Дайджест
9 Декабря 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 502

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” to be handed December 14

The tenth annual competition for the Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” is over. The Jury named the 17 finalists:

Dayan Shakirov (Chelyabinsk), newspaper Chelyabinsky Rabochiy (posthumously); Vladimir Voronov (Moscow), newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno; Pavel Gutiontov (Moscow), newspaper Delovoy Vtornik; Dmitry Florin (Moscow), website Novy Fokus; Yuri Tutov (Moscow), magazine Index on Censorship/Dosye na Tsenzuru; Andrei Piontkovsky (Moscow), web publication Grani.ru; Igor Tsagoyev (Nalchik), newspaper Severny Ravraz; Vassily Avchenko (Vladivostok), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Izolda Drobina (Yekaterinburg), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Irina Kizilova (Perm), newspaper Permskiye Novosti; Marina Zavadskaya (Vladivostok), newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti; Natalia Ostrovskaya (Vladivostok), newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda; Georgy Borodyansky (Omsk), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Olga Bobrova (Moscow), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Boris Vishnevsky (St. Petersburg), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Irina Gafarova and Roman Prytkov (Voronezh), newspaper Moyo.

Special diplomas were awarded to Georgy Ramazashvili (Moscow/Tbilisi), magazine Index on Censorship – for fighting against restrictions on access to archives; AltaPress Publishers’ website (Barnaul) – for AltaiGate Action; the online version of the newspaper Moyo (Voronezh) – for a series of reports about last summer’s forest fires; and Dayan Shakirov (Chelyabinsk), newspaper Chelyabinsky Rabochiy (posthumously).

The names of the winner and laureates, selected from the above list of the finalists, will be announced at a ceremony to honour the 2010 Competition winners, which will open at the Central House of Journalists in Moscow (8a, Nikitsky Boulevard, metro station Arbatskaya) at 3 p.m. December 14. The guests will be presented with the newly released book “That’s the Way We Live” featuring the best works of participants in last year’s A. Sakharov Competition.

This year’s contest involved about a hundred authors from dozens of Russian Federation regions – from Kaliningrad to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Vladivostok, and from Syktyvkar to Nalchik and Grozny. The winner and nominees have been invited to come to Moscow to receive the prizes and honorary diplomas. The Jury’s diplomas will be handed to all the finalists and the media outlets that published the winner and nominees’ writings.

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

Rally in defence of journalists held in Moscow

A rally in defence of journalists under the motto “Enough is Enough!” has been held in Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square, bringing together about 150 civil society activists. The action was authorized by the city administration.

The participants paid tribute to the murdered journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Natalia Estemirova, Magomed Yevloyev and others. They held placards reading “Stop the Violence!”, and “Word is Harder than Steel!”

Their main demand was for the authorities to ensure that all the killings and attacks on journalists are fully investigated, Radio Liberty reported.

The group of speakers included Gazeta.ru reporter Alexander Artemyev, who had his arm broken during the May 31st action in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution; Kommersant-Dengi correspondent Anastasia Karimova; Dozhd TV network journalist Ilya Vasyunin and others.

GDF president Alexei Simonov took the floor to say that if the rally participants were to stand in a minute of silence for each of the journalists killed over the past ten years, they would have to stand for about six hours. Russia needs not so much tougher legal sanctions for attacks on reporters as the political will to enforce the already existing laws, Simonov said.

So far, we have only heard promises by high-ranking officials to “track down and prosecute” the perpetrators, and by law enforcers to have those crimes disclosed “as soon as possible” – with no real action following, Simonov said.

 

RUSSIA

Maritime Region. TV cameraman killed in Nakhodka

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

A cameraman who had at different times worked for different television networks – Vostok-TV, Neo-TV and TVN – was brutally murdered in Nakhodka December 3, the RIO Panorama news agency reported without even mentioning the victim’s name.

Colleagues helped the GDF correspondent establish that it was Andrei Mertins who died at the hands of unidentified criminals who gave him 15 knife stabs. The killing gave rise to criminal proceedings, but law enforcement has so far declined to give any details.

Local analysts maintain the crime may have been committed by a teenager gang.

 

Kirov. Journalist threatened

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

According to GDF information, Yelena Ovchinnikova, a correspondent for the newspaper Vyatsky Nablyudatel, has repeatedly received threats lately.

“They’ve been telling me all the time that ‘we’ll kill you and no one will ever look for your body’, or ‘we’ll get you in jail and no one will ever help you’, or ‘we’ll have you arrested while carrying planted drugs’,” Ovchinnikova told the GDF correspondent. “Also, they’ve been eavesdropping on my telephone conversations and sometimes had me and my daughter shadowed, so I had to hide my kid away in Moscow.”

It is not for the first time she feels she is being targeted. An unknown man attacked Ovchinnikova June 14, 2000, breaking her head with brass knuckles – in her view, as an act of intimidation. “Although I described the attacker to the police and cited the licence plate number of the car he had got out of, he was never found,” Yelena said. “The investigators closed the case telling me I myself was to blame because I’d failed to duly repay my debts. By mentioning the name of my alleged creditor, they actually pointed to the person who had ordered the attack.”

Y. Ovchinnikova often criticizes the poor performance of local law enforcers, judges and administrators. She has often received requests for assistance from police officers who happened to fall into their bosses’ disfavour.

 

Perm Region. Prosecutors teach journalists how to write

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Ivan Chazov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Chusovskoi Rabochiy, has sent Perm Region prosecutor Alexander Belykh an open letter complaining about “open pressure” exerted on him by Andrei Deliyev, prosecutor of the town of Chusovoi.

During the past few months, the town prosecutor has frequently called the editor on the phone, summoned his colleagues for questioning, openly meddled in the newspaper’s economic activities and even advised the journalists how to write, the letter said. “Clearly, he wants to establish a regime that would make any criticism of the law enforcers impossible,” Chazov wrote.

As the latest example of pressure, he cited Deliyev’s sending almost about a dozen men – nearly the entire staff of the prosecutor’s office – to perform a total check-up of the editorial office and the local printing house following a minor technical mistake – the newspaper’s failure to mention in its output data the method of its distribution. As a result of incessant phone calls and personal visits to the editorial office, the newspaper failed to be released on time.

“Was that really the most important task for law enforcement to fulfil in Chusovoi, a heavily criminalised town with a population of 70,000? Or is the very fact of Chusovskoi Rabochiy’s existence is deemed to be a crime?” the editor wondered.

According to Chazov, prosecutor Deliyev has not come up so far with any response to the complaint except publishing a series of new “recommendations” to Chusovskoi Rabochiy in another newspaper and promising yet another chain of sudden inspections.

 

Tula. Political writer convicted for libel

Continued from Digest 501

By Roman Zholud,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Court hearings completed in November 29, resulting in Vladimir Timakov, a local parliamentarian, public activist and political writer, found guilty of libel in respect of Governor Vyacheslav Dudka. The court, however, imposed no legal sanctions on Timakov.

As we have reported, the governor’s two previous legal claims against V. Timakov, lodged in the wake of his publications censuring corrupt practices in the region, were satisfied in full last spring, with RUR 500,000 and RUR 1 m charged from the defendant, respectively. Those were followed by the criminal proceedings instituted against Timakov on libel charges.

All the three cases highlighted the courts’ heavy dependence on the authorities and their readiness to seriously breach the rules of procedure. For example, the state fee for the filing of his legal claim was paid by the governor from the regional budget, and his interests were defended in court by staff lawyers of the regional administration. Besides, two linguistic studies pertaining to the libel case were carried out by a psychologist and a teacher of mathematics (sic), who are staffers of a non-linguistic organisation – the Russian Institute of Culture Studies (Moscow). Neither of the two “experts” had previously had anything to do with linguistics or philology.

Although found guilty, the defendant was relieved of any legal punishment because “he has not had prior criminal record and has published an official refutation, thereby rendering his actions socially harmless”.

His defence lawyers, however, see the trial as politically underpinned and hence unlawful. The judge disregarded the fact that Timakov had never actually said the words that were later qualified as libellous. Nor the validity of the “expert opinion” presented by the plaintiff was called into question. Timakov’s conviction will result in his losing his deputy’s mandate, leaving Tula actually without an opposition to gubernatorial power. His lawyers intend to challenge the sentence before a higher-standing judicial authority. They maintain a fair decision is only likely if his case is reviewed outside the Tula judiciary. The Media Rights Defence Centre in Voronezh has filed two complaints with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with V. Timakov’s prosecution for criticism of the regional governor.

Despite the trial’s completion, Timakov is still not allowed to leave town. His lawyers believe this is done deliberately, to prevent him from holding news conferences outside Tula – for example, in Moscow.

 

Kaliningrad. Journalist wins in court against police

Judge Y. Protasova of the Oktyabrsky District court of Kaliningrad partially satisfied December 2 a legal claim by Konstantin Rozhkov, editor of the regional newspaper Svetlogorye, challenging the actions of several police officers – Col. Klimov, deputy head of the city police department; Capt. Komandirov, his deputy; and policemen Soldatkin, Popov and Vasyuchenko.

As Roshkov was fulfilling an editorial assignment and shooting a TV report about a one-man picketing action outside the city administration headquarters July 30, he filmed a group of security guards and a team of patrolmen from police station No.3.

The police officers cracked down on the picketer, Yuri Matsnev, 74, and on Rozhkov, too, taking both to the police station. They confiscated the reporter’s camera, beat him up, rudely cursed him for his publications, searched him, and drove him to the narcological dispensary for alcohol tests. After that, they brought him back to the police station, searched again, confiscated all his personal effects and locked him into a cell for more than 4 hours without food or water. While he was in the cell, they erased the video evidence from his camera and drove him directly to a justice of the peace in a police vehicle.

The judge, however, disregarded the charges they had trumped up against Rozhkov and closed the case in view of no elements of crime in the defendant’s actions. The editor then filed his legal claim with the district court.

 

Rostov-on-Don. Million roubles claimed from editor

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The underage son of the late Judge Galina Abramova, who died six months ago, has filed a legal claim in defence of her honour and dignity against journalist Alexander Tolmachev.

For two previous years, the prosecutor’s office and investigative committee of the Rostov Region tried in vain to institute criminal proceedings against G. Abramova, then chair of the Leninsky District court of Rostov-on-Don, in response to a complaint by local businessman Alexei Ivankov about her having extorted money from him. Ivankov presented a video cassette featuring him handing the money over to Abramova. The regional college of judges, however, did not authorize the opening of a criminal case for purposes of a full-scale investigation. The RF Supreme Court went over to the side of its colleagues in Rostov. Even the Prosecutor General’s Office’s and Chief Investigator Bastrykin’s personal interference did not help.

The litigation lasted for more than two years, regularly covered by Alexander Tolmachev, editor of ProRostov magazine and the local supplement to the newspaper Argumenty Nedeli. Abramova sued him for calling her a bribe-taker in his publications, and was awarded by the Oktyabrsky District court RUR 1 m in moral damage compensation. Tolmachev appealed against that decision to the higher-standing regional court which was to decide whether to confirm or cancel it. It was then that an unexpected thing happened: Judge Abramova withdrew the legal claim she had already won in the district court.

In his numerous publications, Tolmachev put the blame for Abramova’s protection and for the general “judicial outrage” in the Rostov Region on the regional court chairman, Viktor Tkachev.

Six months ago, G. Abramova died of cancer leaving her underage son alone. The family lawyers filed an honour-and-dignity protection claim on his behalf, demanding a refutation and RUR 1 m in moral damage compensation.

For his part, Alexander Tolmachev has filed with the Kirovsky District court a similar claim against Judge Viktor Tkachev. But, according to the regional court’s press service, the district court refused to consider the claim against its direct boss. The regional court followed suit, forwarding the editor’s claim to the Supreme Court which is now to decide which judicial authority on RF territory will consider it. The Glasnost Defense Foundation will follow the developments closely.

 

AZERBAIJAN

Opposition journalist attacked

Ramid Ibragimov, a reporter for the Azerbaijani newspaper Bizim Yol, was beaten up by unidentified persons in Baku November 26.

A scandalous campaign to pull down houses is underway in Fizuli, Topchubashe and Badalbeili Streets, with mayoral officials, supported by the police, driving out residents who are unwilling to leave their homes for meagre compensation. The authorities intend to build a Winter Garden where historic architectural buildings used to stand.

The journalist was attacked while taking photo pictures to illustrate a story he was writing in response to local residents’ complaints. He was approached by three plain-clothed men who demanded that he erase the pictures he had taken. He refused to, showing his journalistic ID and explaining that he was fulfilling an editorial assignment. The men then took away his camera by force and broke it, and beat Ibragimov severely.

That was not the first attack on independent or opposition media reporters in Azerbaijan this year. On February 18, Zulfugar Heyirkhabar of SalamNews was similarly beaten up while taking photo pictures for a news story; on July 28 Elmin Badalov of the newspaper Yeni Musavat and Anar Gheraily, deputy editor of the newspaper Milli Yol, were ruthlessly beaten in the village of Mardakan, in the so-called “rich men’s block”, while photographing the villa belonging to a relative of Azerbaijan’s transport minister. Late on August 30, two unknown thugs attacked the prominent sports reporter Rasul Shukyursoy, stabbing him with a knife. The journalist is known to have recently published, in the newspaper KomandaA, a series of articles criticizing Azerbaijani authorities. He has received several threatening e-mail messages over the past few days, he said.

Based on Panorama.am reports

 

UKRAINE

Crimean newspaper correspondent beaten with iron bars

The regional newspaper Zarya Tarkhankuta (ZT) has announced that one of its correspondents, Sergey Antipenko, a local council deputy representing the Party of Regions, was beaten in his home village of Chernomorskoye, the Crimea.

“Three unknown men attacked the journalist near his house and proceeded to beat him with iron bars in an attempt to knock him off his feet,” UNIAN quotes ZT as saying. “He managed to tear away and pull out an air pistol, causing the attackers to retreat. He was left with a lacerated wound on the head that had to be stitched up, and bruises all over his body.”

The incident occurred December 1.

According to ZT, S. Antipenko has published a number of stories “criticizing the budget scheming by the village council head” and his reports. Two weeks prior to the attack on him, a raid on the house of ZT editor Irina Khrol had been attempted.

UNIAN report, December 3

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in November 2010

Deaths of journalists – 1 (Yevgeny Fedotov, reporter, newspaper Ekstra, Chita).

Attacks on journalists – 13 (Vyacheslav Struchkov, news presenter, Sakha TV Company, Yakutsk; Oleg Kashin, reporter, Kommersant Daily, Moscow; Viktor Yegorov, owmer and editor, Skotny Dvor website, Tyumen; Sergei Mikhailov, editor-in-chief, newspaper Saratovsky Reporter, Saratov; Anatoly Adamchuk, reporter, newspaper Zhukovskiye Vesti, Moscow Region; Valentine Politayev, reporter, Centre Against Corruption in Government Bodies, Maritime Region; Kreml.tv crew of TV reporters, Moscow Region; Magomed Khanmagomedov, correspondent, newspaper Chernovik, Dagestan; Nikolai Smirnov, correspondent, newspaper Zolotoye Koltso, Yaroslavl Region; Khussen Shadiyev, editor-in-chief, newspaper Serdalo, Republic of Ingushetia; Dmitry Kaplin, correspondent, RIA Vremya N, Nizhny Novgorod; Larissa Layd, ex-editor, district newspaper Vzmorye, Maritime Region; Ivan Pritulyak, staff member, Mayak Radio, Omsk).

Attacks on media offices – 1 (newspaper Birobidzhanskaya Zvezda, Jewish Autonomous Region).

Instances of censorship – 3 (website Vesti Karelii, Karelia; newspaper Rodnik, Rostov Region; Channel One, Moscow).

Criminal charges against journalists and media – 4 (Marina Goreva, editor-in-chief, newspaper Den Goroda, Nizhny Novgorod; newspaper Kommersant-Volga, Samara; Anastasia Baranova, editor-in-chief, newspaper Primorsko-Akhtarskiye Vesti, Krasnodar Region; Vladimir Timakov, freelance journalist, Tula).

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 5 (Maxim Tikhonov, editor, Karelia Publishers’, Alexei Makarov,k director, Sampo Radio/TV Company, and Yuri Shabanov, general director, Petronet TV Company, all from Karelia; Rashid Garifullin, editor, newspaper Avangard, Samara Region; Erik Chernyshov, editor, newspaper Pravda Khakassii, Republic of Khakassia).

Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 6 (Nadezhda Nizovkina, reporter, newspaper Svobodnoye Slovo, and Natalia Filonova, editor, newspaper Vsemu Naperekor, Trans-Baikal Region; Natalia Belogrudova, editor, newspaper Delovoy Peterburg, St. Petersburg; Veronica Gorbacheva, reporter, newspaper Rubezh Severa, Komi Republic; Andrei Bukreyev, journalist, Rostov.ru web portal, Rostov-on-Don; Alexander Bogdanov, freelance journalist, St. Petersburg).

Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 20, worth a total of RUR 59,727,000.

Prior claims against journalists and media, considered – 13, satisfied – 10, total amount of moral damage compensation charged – RUR 2,580,981.

Denial of access to information (including bans on audio/video recording and photography; denials of accreditation; restrictions on visits to or presence at events held in government agencies, at industrial enterprises, in state institutions, etc.) – 12.

Threats against journalists and media – 7 (Svetlana Kravchenko, freelance journalist, Krasnodar Region; Natalia Shelimova, staff correspondent, newspaper Nashe Vremya, Rostov Region; Oleg Kashin, reporter, newspaper Kommersant, Moscow; Vladimir Posner, Channel One, Moscow; Khussen Shadiyev, editor-in-chief, newspaper Serdalo, Republic of Ingushetia; Larissa Layd, ex-editor, district newspaper Vzmorye, Maritime Region; Sergey Krasilnikov, journalist, Ulyanovsk Online web portal, Ulyanovsk).

Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 1 (newspaper Ivanovo-Press, Ivanovo).

Disruption of TV/radio broadcasts – 4 (РЕН-ТВ, Pozitsiya TV show and Ekho Moskvy radio – all in North Ossetia-Alania Republic; Stavropolye TV/Radio Company, Stavropol).

Closure of media – 1 (newspaper Litsei, Republic of Karelia).

Confiscation, purchase or arrest of print run – 1 (newspaper Rodnik, Rostov Region).

Interference with Internet publications – 3 (Yabloko party website, Tulskiye Pryaniki website and Ekho Moskvy website – all in Tula).

Confiscation of, or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus or computers – 2 (camera of Kreml.tv crew of TV reporters, Moscow Region; memory stick of Andrei Bukreyev, reporter for Rostov.ru web portal, Rostov-on-Don).

Administrative pressure attempts – 1 (newspaper Tomiks, Vladimir)

Economic pressure attempts – 2 (newspaper Stepniye Izvestia, Samara Region; newspaper Selskaya Zhizn, Saratov Region).

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 30.

 

OUR PARTNERS

Media rights defence centre holds training seminar for media lawyers

The Media Rights Defence Centre (MRDC) in Voronezh announces a regional training seminar for media lawyers, to be held December 16-17.

The seminar will focus on:

  • Legal regulation of information exchanges via the Internet;
  • RF Supreme Court Decision “The Media Law: Problems, Innovations, Application Practices”.

A database on Media Law application practices, compiled by the Media Rights Centre, will be presented during the seminar.

The group of experts will include G. Y. Arapova, NRDC director and leading lawyer; and M. A. Ledovskikh, MRDC lawyer and professor of the Central Branch of the Russian Academy of Law.

Please send in your applications for participation in the seminar before December 7 by e-mail or by fax with a note: “Seminar”.

The event will be held at the Regional House of Journalists (14, Lenin Square) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. December 16, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. December 17. Participants from other cities will be accommodated at Rossiya Hotel (23, Teatralnaya St.).

Two-way air tickets (economy class) or railway tickets (compartment), meals (coffee break and lunch) and hotel rooms will be paid for by hosting organisation. Please notify the organisers of the time of your arrival in Voronezh, the time of your departure after the end of the seminar, and whether or not you will stay at the hotel. Be sure to bring your passport and indicate your Pension Fund and INN codes.

For further information, please contact the Media Rights Defence Centre (82, Koltsovskaya St., 394006, Voronezh, Russia; e-mail: gala@media.vrn.ru; telephones: (+7 4732) 20-4696 or 77-8300; fax: (+7 4732) 77-8226 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time). Contact persons: Marina Zalata or Irina Ledovskikh.

 

This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF)

 

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

Digest released once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.
Distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editor-in-chief: Alexei Simonov

Editorial board: Boris Timoshenko – Monitoring Service chief, Pyotr Polonitsky – head of GDF regional network, Svetlana Zemskova – lawyer, Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy – translator, Alexander Yefremov – web administrator in charge of Digest distribution.

We would appreciate reference to our organization in the event of any Digest-sourced information or other materials being used.

Contacts: Glasnost Defence Foundation, 4, Zubovsky Boulevard, Office 432, 119992 Moscow, Russia.
Telephone/fax: (495) 637-4947, 637-4420, e-mail: boris@gdf.ru, fond@gdf.ru

 

To be crossed out from the Digest list of subscribers, please e-mail a note to digest@gdf.ru .

 

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Архив
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