3 Ноября 2010 года



New socially significant project launched

It all boils down to this: if TV has long abandoned its information-disseminating function for the sake of sheer entertainment, and most newspapers and magazines carefully skirt “sensitive” topics to report on, people have nothing else to do but grab video cameras and turn into self-made reporters.

Activists of the new all-Russia movement “Kirill Mefodyevich” [a hint at the Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs, who invented the Russian alphabet – Translator.] posted on the Ekho Moskvy radio station’s website an appeal to be signed by anyone recognizing the relevance of the project. The idea is “to set up a team interested in teaching ordinary people to speak the modern language of TV reporting, and create the adequate format for them to express themselves publicly”. The organizers maintain such a format can be created on public organizations’ websites where all socially significant video reports from across the country would be gathered and systematized. People need to be taught to work with the video, the organizers say. And the teaching system should be self-regulating and self-developing, which may eventually lead to profound changes within Russia’s media community and the whole of society.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, had this to say about the Kirill Mefodyevich initiative:

“They aim at something we have long dreamed of – taking the government institutions and government officials under public control, and turning individual attempts to do so into systematic work to keep the bureaucratic performance under public scrutiny. The task of human rights defenders is to make sure this becomes a routine process.”

“Videos recorded by ordinary people are indeed impressive, as shown by clips shot during the dispersal of dissenters’ marches, or clips featuring Putin driving a yellow Lada Kalina or people protesting against the destruction of the Khimki forest, etc.,” writer Viktor Shenderovich told Ekho Moskvy. And Yulia Latynina observed that just a few years ago, TV was the sole source of video news. “Today, the situation is different – the bulk of the news is disseminated via the Internet – and not by professionals but mostly by eyewitnesses,” she wrote in her LiveJournal blog.

The Glasnost Defense Foundation, which is among the signatories of the Kirill Mefodyevich appeal, urges all its friends, clients and defendants to read that document and learn about the goals of the project to which we all can contribute.


Kirill Mefodyevich is a project that has proved able to bring together politicians Yavlinsky and Nemtsov, actress Chulpan Khamatova and radio editor Alexei Venediktov, environmentalists from Khabarovsk, the Liberal Democrats from Azov, and the Communists from Kazan. Let us embark on the road of a 21st-century literacy campaign! (For further details, see http://www.echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/719845-echo/).



New Moscow mayor in conflict with press

Taking over as the mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin shocked the journalists by barring the press from the conference room where the very first sitting of the Moscow government was in progress.

Gazeta.ru had quoted mayoral press spokeswoman Galina Sugak as saying not a single accredited media reporter would be admitted to the conference room, except for the TV Center’s team of journalists. Those who had laughed at the announcement were to find out shortly afterwards it was not a joke. “The lists of accredited reporters for all the media – print, online, news agencies, and radio and TV stations, including federal ones – have been taken away, and we have orders not to let anyone in,” security guards at the mayoral office’s gate told the Interfax news agency.

“We are resolutely against ‘the new broom sweeping clean’ the reporters for federal and municipal media out of the mayor’s office,” GDF president Alexei Simonov said. “The notion of accreditation cannot be redefined only because of a new boss’ appointment, because accreditation means facilitating the journalists’ work, not fighting dissent.”

The newspaper Kommersant noted that the latest incident is nothing out of the ordinary: Sobyanin showed the same attitude toward the press during his tenure as the governor of Tyumen and the federal government’s chief of staff.

Nevertheless, his ban on accredited reporters’ admission to the mayoral conference is strikingly wrong. In line with the RF Media Law, a journalist may only be stripped out of his/her accreditation under a court decision in full legal force. The new mayor’s press service is either ignoring the law deliberately or has introduced new rules skirting the established procedure. What next, one may wonder…



Tymen. Website editor being intimidated

Continued from Digest 496


Journalist Viktor Yegorov has told the GDF about another incident that occurred in Tyumen October 22. A week earlier, he had been attacked by an unknown man armed with a baseball bat which the journalist had captured as a trophy (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/777#r1).

This time, several shots were fired from a fowling piece – but for some unclear reason, through the windows of the apartment of Viktor’s neighbors. Since the latter are humble and innocent people, both Yegorov and the police maintain that the attackers simply hit the wrong target. “The person who fired the shots must have made a mistake selecting the windows to shoot at, hitting apartment No.65 instead of No.66,” Yegorov said.

The journalist responded by posting the following text on his web blog:

“This is a warning to those armed with a fowling piece.

“You fired the first shot at the window of a room where the lights were on. The curtain contained the glass fragments. Your second shot was at the window of the kitchen which was not illuminated – maybe you thought someone was hiding in the darkness looking out at you? The glass fragments flew all over the wall.

“There were kids in the apartment, who survived only by a lucky chance, hiding away in the back room.

“Look here now. You must have fired those shots for money, which means it’s senseless to talk to you. But if I find out who you are, our conversation won’t be much longer than a return shot.

“Attention those who sent you to shoot. Life is unpredictable, and someone’s deepest secrets may come out someday to become known to all. I’ll have it out with you without turning for help to law enforcement.

“Not a single article posted on my website will be removed. Nor will your attack prevent any of the publications I may choose to post in the future.”


Perm Region. Documentary finally shown and discussed

Continued from Digest 496

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The previous edition of GDF Digest featured the story “Evolution of University Glasnost” (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/1/777#r4) about a scandal at Perm State University over the canceling October 21, under pressure from Lukoil Perm Co., of the show of Robert Karapetyan’s documentary “The Oil People” (an abridged version of the film is available in the Internet) about the disastrous ecological situation near the village of Pavlovo where Lukoil extracts oil.

In response to numerous protests in the media, the university management decided to show the full version of the film after all, but “with the mandatory participation of experts and Lukoil representatives”.

Debates in the rector’s office over whether or not to show the film had continued throughout the week until October 28, when the documentary was finally shown, with Biology Department professors posing as experts. The largest number of questions, however, was addressed to the oil company representatives. Students were eager to know why the ecological catastrophe had not been prevented, why so many hazardous agents were found in the blood of Pavlovo villagers, including children, and even how Lukoil had learned about the would-be show of “The Oil People” at the university.

The discussion did take place in the long run, which is much better than concealing the bitter truth from the public.


3. Samara. Media during elections: informers or propagandists?

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

A conference called “Media and Elections: Between Freedom of Expression and Propaganda” has summed up the results of the recent election of the city Duma and mayor of Samara. Co-sponsored by the school of journalism of the Volga State Social and Humanitarian Academy (VSSHA) and the regional branch of Russia’s Journalists’ Union, the conference attracted local journalists, scientists, students of journalism, parliamentarians, PR specialists and sociologists. The program included two discussions: “Political Campaign 2010 in Media Coverage: Was There a Choice Indeed?” and “Media During Elections: Unbiased Informers or Propagandists?”

The conference stated in no uncertain terms that there is no independent journalism in Samara, and there will not be any as long as Russia continues to pass legislation restricting freedom of expression and media freedoms, such as the law “On the General Principles of Local Self-Government in the Russian Federation” which is seen as controversial and incomprehensible.

Exchanges of views yielded two meaningful conclusions.

First, the authorities are not interested in encouraging political debates, generally. During the latest election campaign, they did not organize any press clubs or information centers, did not ensure the parity of candidates, and even openly sided with the ruling party nominees – despite the government’s apparent interest in persuading the people their opinion does matter.

And second, as the sociologists observed, the media cannot be independent in principle, as long as they rely for funding on their founders whose views they are required to reflect. With luck, they can hope to enjoy some freedom of expression if the founder happens to be a democratically-minded type.

With the conference’s findings as pessimistic as that, the very fact of frank and open discussions taking place laid the foundation for further research and arguments that may ultimately result in the truth brought to light.


4. Sverdlovsk Region. Hooliganism or intimidation attempt?

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A stone was flung, or an air rifle shot fired into a fourth-floor window of the media holding Dosye Novouralsk (DN) at 5, Frunze Street in the closed city of Novouralsk late on October 25. Neither the stone nor the bullet that broke one layer of the triple-glass pane could be found.

“We are wondering where they might be, and from where the shot – if it was a shot – was fired,” DN staffers told the Ura.ru news agency correspondent. “There isn’t a single tall building near our office, and the company grounds are surrounded by a tall fence and shut down for the night.” The media holding has no apparent enemies: the local TV company is reputed to be “tame” and loyal to the authorities.

On the other hand, as one analyst noted, with elections pending, someone might warn the journalists in advance that they are easy to reach even in a closed city, should any of the canvassing materials fail to satisfy certain political groups…


5. Maritime Region. Customs service wins in court against newspaper

By Anna Seleznyova,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Sergey Murashko, chief of the Far Eastern customs service, claimed RUR 1.5 m in moral damage compensation from the newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti for last summer’s publication “Contraband Vertical” that suggested he controls “an organized group of smugglers acting in collusion with Putin’s law enforcement”. None of the other persons mentioned in the article filed legal claims against the author.

The AV staffers see this as the first attack of the contraband vertical against them. The newspaper’s interests were defended in court by activists of the Khraniteli Zakona (Defenders of Law) public movement against corruption in the Maritime Region’s government and self-government bodies.

The court satisfied the claim partially, slashing the compensation amount to only RUR 6,000, and required AV to publish a refutation.



Court confirms Russian journalist’s conviction

The city court in Tashkent decided October 29 to leave in full legal force the sentence passed on the case of Russian journalist Vladimir Berezovsky. Earlier, the Yakkasarai district court had found Berezovsky, editor of the Vesti.uz website, guilty of belying “another person” whose identity was not disclosed.

The defendant asked the court to question E. Zufarov of the Uzbekistan Communications and Information Agency, who had provided “expert conclusions” regarding 16 news reports (by Interfax, RIA Novosti, Ferghana.ru, and Stoletiye.ru news agencies) reprinted by Vesti.uz, as well as S. Tukhtayev, head of the UzASI Monitoring Center, three media experts and the “other person” allegedly belied and defamed by Berezovsky. Yet the judge summoned none of them to the courtroom, since the Tashkent prosecutor’s office was against their questioning.

As a result, the “expert’s” qualifications, work record and scientific degree remained unknown. Even his passport data were not available, although it was based on his conclusions that Berezovsky was again found guilty – an absolutely absurd decision, considering the absence of anyone in particular hurt by his publications.

The district court decision came into effect October 13. The journalist was instantly amnestied and, in line with Article 77 of Uzbekistan’s Penal Code, is considered to have never been put on trial. Yet he intends to challenge the convictive sentence before a higher-standing judicial authority.



Some statistics cited

Last week, the Glasnost Defense Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, including at:









Provintsiya Publishers’ returns to Arkhangelsk

Provintsiya Publishers’ has resumed the release of the newspaper Courier Belomorya (CB).

The publishing house continues expanding its geographical reach and re-launching weeklies that were shut down in different years for different reasons. After Ufa, where the newspaper Ufimsky Meridian was revitalized last spring, CВ is again in operation in Arkhangelsk since October.

The crisis-related decision to liquidate the weekly was taken by Provintsiya’s former management early in 2009 in view of the need to get rid of the assets that had stopped yielding profit. Yet the newspaper had already become part of the Arkhangelsk residents’ life by that time, and regional businessmen offered by the score to finance its revitalization.

The first issue of the renewed CB will be released November 9 in 8,000 copies, to begin with. It will be available in the retail trade networks on Tuesdays.


This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF), http://www.gdf.ru.


We appreciate the support of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Digest released once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.
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Editor-in-chief: Alexei Simonov

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ФЗГ продолжает бороться за свое честное имя. Пройдя все необходимые инстанции отечественного правосудия, Фонд обратился в Европейский суд. Для обращения понадобилось вкратце оценить все, что Фонд сделал за 25 лет своего существования. Вот что у нас получилось:
Полезная деятельность Фонда защиты гласности за 25 лет его жизни