Дайджест
16 Декабря 2010 года

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION DIGEST No. 503

TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Journalist Mikhail Beketov acquitted

The city court in Khimki, Moscow Region, has acquitted Mikhail Beketov, editor of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda, whom local mayor Vladimir Strelchenko accused of libel. Having found no elements of crime in the journalist’s actions, the court closed the case December 10, lifting the ban on his leaving town and declaring his right to seek full exoneration in connection with the unlawful prosecution he was subjected to.

Criminal proceedings against M. Beketov were instituted on libel charges back in September 2007, after the editor expressed the view that V. Strelchenko may have had a hand in the torching of his car. In November 2008 Beketov became the target of a crippling attack that sent him into wheelchair for life.

The first two hearings of the libel case – October 12 and October 21 – were ignored by the plaintiff, who did not appear in court until the third one, held November 9. The mayor said he had “nothing personal” against Beketov and was ready to settle the conflict amicably – but did not withdraw his legal claim. A justice of the peace found the defendant guilty, sentenced him to a fine of RUR 5,000, but relieved him of any punishment in view of the limitation period expiry.

The defence lawyers protested the sentence before the higher-standing city court, where some interesting details surfaced. It turned out the first-instance court had passed its sentence based only on the testimony of Strelchenko and witnesses for the prosecution – nothing else had been presented to prove the defendant’s guilt. Significantly enough, investigation into who set Beketov’s car on fire is still unfinished and the arsonists’ names are still unknown…

Announcing her ruling on the Beketov case, Judge Neonila Zepalova said that “the first-instance court’s sentence was purely conjectural and failing to reflect the real facts of the case”; hence the defendant’s acquittal.

It looks like justice has finally been done to Mikhail Beketov. But his brutal attackers still go unpunished, although the investigators once again promised to “track them down soon”.

The entire country is waiting for them to fulfil their pledge.

 

EVENT OF THE WEEK

International conference “Defending the Future of Journalism in Eastern Europe” held in Moscow

An international conference, “Defending the Future of Journalism in Eastern Europe”, was held in Moscow December 8-9, organised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Russian Journalists’ Union (RJU), with assistance from the Glasnost Defence Foundation.

Apart from the Russian representatives, the conference was attended by guests from Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the IFJ.

The main report delivered by IFJ Secretary General Aidan White was dedicated to the future of journalism in Eastern Europe, where “the culture of political tolerance is only budding” and where journalists “fall victim to impunity”, find themselves “intimidated and suppressed”, with the judiciary “failing to duly safeguard their rights”. The speaker emphasised that over the past year, journalists in Russia have been threatened about 200 times. The atmosphere of impunity exposes journalists to periodic pressure, which problem needs to be tackled without delay, and the beatings of reporters cause serious public concern, A. White said. He welcomed President Medvedev’s call for an end to this pressure and beatings, but stressed that “words are not enough” – the state must take effective steps to prevent those practices.

Security problems that journalists face in fighting impunity were discussed at length during the conference. IFJ analyst John Crowfoot presented a report entitled “Attacks on Media in Russia in 2005-2010: Realities and Threats of Violence”. He said that to the existing database on journalists’ deaths in Russia another one will shortly be added, featuring data on six other forms of pressure on reporters, including attacks, criminal prosecution, censorship, detention, unlawful dismissals and threats. This database, compiled jointly with the GDF, is to be posted on the Internet early next year, to become “a kind of reference book, even a manual, on how to fight for one’s rights,” J. Crowfoot said.

GED president Alexei Simonov pointed out in his speech that over half of all crime incidents involving journalists have been preceded by telephone, e-mail or face-to-face threats that often have not been taken seriously either by the journalists or law enforcement. However, life shows that in most cases the facts of such threats become known only after they are translated into reality. Elaborating on the theme of impunity, A. Simonov suggested reassigning investigations from the regions where crimes were committed to neighbouring regions, to minimize interference by persons who for some reason or other are not interested in seeing a crime solved. “Whenever threats, attacks or killings are investigated in the same regions where they occurred, the investigations are not very effective,” the GDF head said.

The conference also focused on ways of bringing power abusers to justice, stepping up the struggle against censorship and rights restrictions, and strengthening the ethical standards of journalism to secure its future.

Summing up the conference, IFJ’s Oliver Money-Kyrle welcomed the very fact that such a meeting took place. He pointed to the need to continue fighting impunity, an area where the IFJ, GDF and the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) “have a very important role to play”, and urged other organisations, including human rights associations, to join in that work as partners.

 

RUSSIA

Orenburg Region. Lenient punishment for killers

By Alexander Andreyev,
editor-in-chief, newspaper Buzulukskiye Novosti

The regional court in Orenburg December 9 passed a decision on a criminal case involving an attempt on the life of Viktor Dmitriyev, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Buzulukskiye Novosti (BN). One of the assailants, Ilghiz Garipov, was sentenced to three and a half years in tight-security prison. The other two suspects, R. Imangulov and S. Fyodorov, are on the run and wanted by the police.

This sentence might have been passed back in June, when all the three men were tried and found guilty by a jury panel. The court had all the legal grounds for taking them into custody. But Judge A. Gorodkov, evidently regarding the convicts as law-abiding citizens, left in force the previous restraint – their written pledge not to leave town. Two of the three men grabbed at the lucky chance and escaped, causing the proceedings to be suspended for six months and resulting in Garipov alone finally put on trial.

As established by the court, on December 1, 2006, a group of corrupt officials organised an attempt on the life of editor V. Dmitriyev who was left with six gunshot wounds. The crime was committed by Svyatoslav Fyodorov of Orenburg and Ilghiz Garipov and Ruslan Imangulov of the Republic of Tatarstan – all of them retired police officers with records of fighting in the Chechen war.

According to the victim’s representative Alexander Korolyov, Dmitriyev intends to appeal against the Orenburg court’s sentence which he sees as too lenient – three and a half years is less than the threshold punishment envisaged for this kind of crime under Article 105 of the RF Criminal Code. The prosecution insisted that I. Garipov be sent to jail for 12 years.

 

Republic of Karelia. Intra-party accord gives rise to party censorship

By Anatoly Tsygankov,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

Karelia’s media have long been divided among owners who have not allowed them to deviate from the prescribed editorial course. In the past, when the owners’ public and political interests still differed, the newspapers, websites and TV companies they controlled used to engage in polemics with one another, allowing the readers and viewers to have a more or less diverse picture of the republic’s political life. The more complicated were the relationships among the media owners, the broader was the area of glasnost in Karelia.

It looks like this public-friendly diversity has petered out, now that the said media owners have also become prominent politicians and leading members of the United Russia party (URP). Since inter-media polemics used to shed light on ill-performing local URP activists too, the party’s regional Political Council, having reviewed the conflicts, recommended that the high-ranking URP members from the number of media owners take care to prevent any future publications that might undermine the ruling party’s public image. The owners then gave relevant oral instructions to the editors-in-chief of their media holdings who, in turn, not only removed from the newspaper pages and websites all polemic publications concerning United Russia but also switched off the chat forums on websites that might host ordinary political discussions, such as StolitsaNaOnego.com.

The political moratorium is likely to last, as a minimum, until next March’s election of deputies of the City Council of Petrozavodsk – or even longer, until the subsequent elections to Karelia’s Legislative Assembly and the RF State Duma are over. The fact of the media being heavily censored by the ruling party is no one’s secret in the republic.

 

Omsk. Regional news agency editor threatened

Since December 6, Sergey Starovoitov, editor-in-chief of the SuperOmsk news agency, has been receiving anonymous threats that the journalist links with his professional activities. After several threatening calls to his cell phone in the evening, he received a night SMS message reading as follows: “You’ve been dropping bricks by the score. Repent, until it’s too late!”

Seeing the message as a clear threat to the editor, the SuperOmsk lawyers prepared complaints to the regional prosecutor’s office and police.

“It’s hard to say who may be behind those threats,” Starovoitov commented. “Over the past weeks and months, SuperOmsk – an independent news agency – has published sharp-worded critical articles about the mayor’s office, the regional administration and some commercial entities. Someone must have got seriously offended. I urged the caller to meet with me to discuss his claims, but he refused. Hopefully, law enforcement will help establish that person’s identity.”

[Omsk300.ru report, December 7]

Sverdlovsk Region. Journalists accused of fanning inter-ethnic strife

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

A serious interethnic conflict is brewing in Artyomovsky, the home town of Sverdlovsk Region Governor Alexander Misharin. But instead of dealing with the problem, the force agencies have chosen to shift the blame onto the local newspaper Yegorshinskiye Vesti (YV) which made the conflict known to the public.

It all began with a story about the killing of Artyomovsky resident Vladimir Rukomoikin – the guy was beaten to death in late October. Soon afterwards, the victim’s friends and relatives came to the YV office to say members of the local Armenian community may have had a hand in the beating. Once posted on the YV website, that information triggered a real verbal battle: a total of 300 comments were left by anonymous authors, most of those boiling down to threats against the Russian residents. It was those comments that gave rise to the story entitled “YV Website Explodes”, in which journalist Galina Taskina cited some of the postings and urged the law enforcers to show some kind of reaction to what is going on in the city.

“After we published that story, an officer of the city police department came to our office to question the staff in connection with the publication,” YV editor Alexander Sharafiyev told the Ura.ru news agency. “I asked him to come again later because we were busy preparing to celebrate the newspaper’s jubilee. He told me in a rude form that he would ‘summon everyone to the police station’. I then reported to the regional police department.”

As a result, the Irbit inter-district investigative unit of the regional Investigative Committee launched a preliminary investigation, and ordered a linguistic study of the story’s text, suspecting the journalists of committing an offence under Article 282.1 of the RF Criminal Code (“Instigation of interethnic hostility”).

The Sverdlovsk Region Human Rights Ombudswoman Tatyana Merzlyakova has qualified the article as “having nothing to do with fanning interethnic hostility”. Herself a former district newspaper editor, she studied, together with her colleagues, the YV texts and readers’ comments and came up with the following conclusions:

“I think the publication is fairly balanced. A journalist not only may but must make public the local people’s impression that law enforcement has refrained from investigating that man’s (Rukomoikin’s) death.”

The ombudswoman has prepared an appeal to Investigative Committee head Valery Zadorin to assign a regional team of special investigators to look into the circumstances of Rukomoikin’s murder.

 

Volgograd Region. Mikhailovka mayor claims RUR 15 m from journalists

By Grigory Gudkov,
editor-in-chief, newspaper Novoye Vremya-Mikhailovka

On November 9 this year, the Mikhailovsky district court received an honour, dignity and business reputation protection claim filed by Gennady Kozhevnikov, mayor of the town of Mikhailovka, Volgograd Region, against the independent newspaper Novoye Vremya-Mikhailovka (NVM) in connection with several publications featured three years ago. The mayor wants RUR 15 m in moral damage compensation.

The publications in question were local residents’ letters of complaint to the newspaper about the mayor’s poor performance. NVM is the town’s sole newspaper that has for 12 years now provided truthful coverage of local developments, repeatedly causing the municipal rulers to frown.

The legal claim lodged by the mayor is seen as an attempt at suppressing the journalists and having the disagreeable ones punished – with the help of the judiciary.

The first hearing of the mayoral claim took place December 8 but was adjourned until December 15 at both parties’ request. Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s office has conducted a probe into the performance of the Mikhailovka administration and Mayor Kozhevnikov in person.

 

Chelyabinsk. Newly purchased TV company to be auctioned off

By Irina Gundareva,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

In his latest address to the nation, President Dmitry Medvedev called on Russian authorities at all levels to divest themselves of non-core assets, including media outlets under their control. That caused the regional and municipal administrations in Chelyabinsk to sit down as a team to figure out which assets may be deemed redundant.

The OTV regional television network and the newspaper Yuzhnouralskaya Panorama are financed from the budget with taxpayers’ money; Channel 31 is controlled by the governor due to its financing via Makfa Ltd., a company owned by Governor Mikhail Yurevich’s family; Gradana-Press, a media holding uniting the newspapers Vecherny Chelyabinsk, Moskovsky Komsomolets, Argumenty Nedeli and a variety of political websites, has remained a staunch pro-government organisation for some peculiar, internally known, reasons. Also, there is the official newspaper Guberniya with a very impressive circulation, and the Press Department which oversees the district newspapers. The latter are heavily dependent on power for financial support which can easily be denied to them unless they remain fully obedient.

Having thus taken stock of their resources, the authorities concluded they would be very unlikely to stay voiceless even if some budget-financed media outlets were sold out. The resulting decision, announced by Vice-Governor Oleg Grachev, was to auction off Vostochny Ekspress, a TV network purchased from the regional budget for RUR 120 m shortly before the presidential address.

Alexei Tabalov from the Bloggers’ Club of Chelyabinsk instantly reacted by urging Internet users to chip in on the purchase of the TV network by contributing a thousand roubles per person. The goal would be to get a media outlet that would truly represent the interests of the people, not the ruling elite, at a time when official views and opinions are absolutely dominant on local TV.

“While being somewhat utopian, the idea may turn out workable in certain conditions,” Tabalov commented ironically. “Advanced public activists are invited to club together and purchase the TV company to make it independent again. We may as well establish a special public (investment) fund for the purpose. However, there is one ‘but’: the regional authorities will be unwilling to have an independent television channel beyond their control in the South Urals.”

Web sceptics expressed the view that the channel will most likely be purchased by some businessman reputed to be close to Mikhail Yurevich’s team, to make sure this TV network, too, remains pro-government.

 

Perm. Rally in support of journalists held

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Journalists and human rights activists have held a rally in downtown Perm to express concern over the development of a “fist-show censorship” system in the country, with journalists and public activists, as well as their families, ever more often threatened with violence.

Last summer saw the ruthless beating in the city centre of Kommersant crime reporter Mikhail Lobanov, a brilliant professional with a 20-year record of work. He was diagnosed to have skull base and cup fractures and a brain contusion. Yet the police and prosecutor’s office of the Motovililkhinsky District of Perm have closed the criminal case four times – evidently because one of the attackers is a police officer’s son.

Speakers Arkady Konstantinov, Tatyana Cherepanova, Roman Yushkov and others said they were alarmed by the growing economic pressure on the media leading to the imposition of censorship, the authorities’ unwillingness to react to ever more frequent interethnic clashes in the region, and their extremely negative attitude toward any form of dissent.

 

GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION

Some statistics cited

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

 

OUR PUBLICATIONS

Undeclared war waged against Saratov media

By Yuri Chernyshov,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The relative lull in conflict-laden relations between the authorities and media in Saratov ended abruptly as two alarming events occurred December 6. Olga Aidarova, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Balashovskaya Pravda (BP) from the town of Balashov, was replaced that day on orders from acting district administration head Tatyana Savrasova (whose boss Boris Shamin was away on a sick leave); and law enforcement raided the office of the Sarinform.com news agency at about 4 p.m. to confiscate the PC system units.

The sacking of O. Aidarova brought back memories of the gangster times of the 1990s. District leader Shamin, his deputy Savrasova and a group of parliamentarians came to the BP office that day to announce the appointment of a new acting editor-in-chief, Roman Loginov. While the district head was introducing the new acting editor, the other visitors had all the door locks changed and attempted to break the door of Aidarova’s office. The police arrived just in time to stop them from doing so. “That was a real outrage of unlawfulness,” Olga Aidarova commented. “An editor-in-chief can only be appointed or replaced with the staff’s approval, in accordance with our charter. I was appointed with, but replaced without such approval.” In her view, this editorial reshuffle was carried out by district head Shamin in the wake of the previous weekend’s publication of a story about Yelena Lukyanova, a gubernatorial adviser, having had her arm broken as she attempted to get through into the conference room where a sitting of local deputies was in progress. Olga Aidarova had already been replaced for criticism of Boris Shamin’s performance back in late October – but reinstated in mid-November in view of increased media attention toward the conflict and the lack of solid support from higher-ranking government authorities for her replacement. Significantly enough, the regional Labour Inspectorate had qualified Aidarova’s dismissal as unlawful at the time. Yet the municipal administration refused to cancel the dismissal order, citing the district leader’s right to independently decide personnel policy matters in municipally owned organisations. Nevertheless, the staff protested against the editor’s unjustified dismissal which was against not only the newspaper’s charter but also against the district regulations. Aidarova being also a district council deputy, her replacement should have been coordinated with the head of her district’s administration, which was not done in real terms. Her protest against the unlawful sacking is to be considered in court December 14.

The other anti-media operation – the seizure of PC system units in the Sarinform.com office – ended after midnight December 7. Some of the circumstances attending it give rise to doubts as to the lawfulness of the law enforcers’ actions as well as the level of their competence. According to agency director Alexander Uriyevsky, after lengthy negotiations, the visitors confiscated only the PC of the editor-in-chief. Surprisingly enough, the inspectors from the Volzhsky District police department of Saratov turned out not to know the agency’s exact address, or full name, or line of activity. They spent a few hours trying to prove the news agency was using counterfeit software. “First, they claimed our Home Edition software is to be installed on home PCs only, not on office computers,” editor Irina Lukoyanova told a news conference she had urgently called. “They then started to claim the disc codes did not correspond to those on the PC stickers. Disregarding our arguments, they ended up confiscating all the system units.”

Colleagues from other media outlets rushed to help by starting to video-record the proceedings. They confirmed as eyewitnesses the fact that the software used by the news agency was officially licensed, and finally suggested that the visitors seize only one system unit that seemed doubtful. After director A. Uriyevsky agreed to the compromise, the reporters went away, and one of the police inspectors left “to bring some witnesses”. However, he soon returned to announce he was taking away all the system units. He showed a complaint by a woman named Fadeyeva who had reported to the police the news agency was using counterfeit software. The complaint only popped up 4 hours after the confiscation process had begun. Asked why they had not shown it before, the inspectors failed to provide any intelligible explanation. The complaint was dated December 6 and assigned for execution December 7. The inspectors declined to provide a copy of it. “That was a clear-cut provocation,” Uriyevsky said. “I’d heard about the police sometimes acting that way, but I’d never have thought they would stoop to attempt as brazen a frame-up as this.”

The journalists called for colleagues’ help again. After reporters for other media returned to the Sarinform.com office, the police inspectors finally agreed to seize only one PC unit, which they did in the presence of witnesses. They also notified the agency it was in breach of the neighbourhood improvement regulations – there was no garbage can at the entrance door …

The agency staff sees the police raid as related to their professional activities, specifically criticism of the municipal administration’s performance on the agency’s website and in the SIC magazine they release.

The Internal Security Service at the regional police department invited the editor to file an official report expressing her disagreement with the actions of the police inspectors, Lukoyanova said. Lydia Zlatogorskaya, head of the regional branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union, in an interview for the Saratov-based news agency Vzglyad-Info, disapproved of the way the law enforcers behaved: “I think it’s a clear instance of arbitrariness, because the police are not entitled to check whether the software the agency uses is licensed or not, since Microsoft once authorised the use of all its products. The whole thing looks politically underpinned. Why meddle in the editorial process as rudely as those inspectors did? I think colleagues should complain to the prosecutor’s office and vigorously defend their right to freedom of expression.” According to Sarinform.com, they continue to operate using the PCs that were not confiscated.

 

P.S. If you come to think of it, the sole “disloyal” story in last October’s issue of SIC magazine (No.8/8) might be an article by editor-in-chief Alexander Uriyevsky dedicated to Vyacheslav Volodin, which opened with the following observation: “Vyacheslav Volodin is a person who has paved the way to power for many people whose main virtue, in the eyes of the public, is their personal devotion to the leader.” Can as innocent a passage as that, which points to a commonly known fact, have become the reason for this police raid on the news agency office?

 

Journalism and alcohol

By Marina Meteleva,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

December 11. I light candles and sit down to leaf through the album featuring old-time office photos. I see the smiling faces of elder colleagues who are no longer with us. On this day we pay tribute to all journalists who died – tragically or through illness, accidentally or deliberately, or at somebody’s evil will… December 11 is Memory Day established in 1991 by a decision of the Russian Journalists’ Union.

Yevgeny Fedotov (Maisky) is one of our latest losses – he died in late October. He was born in Chita May 23, 1972. Since 1997 he was a reporter for the newspaper Ekstra, since 2001 – for the weekly Effekt. He spent his last years as a freelance correspondent for various Chita-based media. Ironically, he specialised in crime reporting, never hesitating to “poke his nose” where he shouldn’t have, i.e. where it was dangerous and the level of risk was high. He was among the founders of the crime newspaper Delo Nomer, a laureate of the Chita Governor’s Award “For Distinguished Work and an Outstanding Personal Contribution to Media Development”, and the author of the novels “You Can Never Tell”, “The Femme Fatale”, “Demon”, “The Bet”, and “Mine Only”.

As reported November 8 by Marina Maretskaya, deputy head of the regional Investigative Department, “There is every reason to believe it was a domestic killing unrelated to journalism”. Central District chief investigator Andrei Bespechansky explained: “The detained suspect was one of the victim’s acquaintances. Both intoxicated, they happened to have a quarrel. The usual thing – first they called names, then had a fistfight, and then resumed drinking together. But the victim suddenly felt unwell in the middle of the night, and had to be taken to hospital. The person who hurt him has been identified and charged under Article 111 of the RF Criminal Code with ‘inflicting grave bodily damage leading to the victim’s unintended death’.”

Yevgeny died in hospital of a scull trauma October 27. What a bitter loss! I remember him young, full of life and energy, and a very gifted author… One of his friends posted this comment on a city web portal: “They say you can’t squander your talent on drink… Nonsense! Yevgeny – may he rest in peace! – proved the silliness of that saying. He might have made a brilliant reporter. Alas, he won’t, ever. This is a lesson to the entire journalistic community, particularly to veteran journalists: Stop teaching young talent how to write well over a glass of vodka! That is wrong!”

Journalism and alcohol… The two words have always been inseparable in my mind. Fresh from university, I came to work for my first “real” newspaper in the late 1980s. As a necessary attribute of each “macho” office, there was a bottle of vodka or port in the safe, or on a bookcase shelf, or right under the desk. “Talent can’t be squandered on drink,” they would say – and yes, they did pretty well writing and making up their stories after a drink or two, some of them for many a long year… But all those who failed to stop drinking in good time ended up similarly – they all passed away. And their deaths were somehow or other linked with alcohol: one had had “one too many”, another was so drunk he could not understand what was going on. Valya Biryukova, who stood on a suburban platform waiting for a commuter train, was stabbed to death by drunk hooligans who had tried but failed to scrounge a cigarette from her; Viktor Mikhailov was beaten to death near a café where he had drunk too much celebrating the end of his work on a story; Zhanna Rodionova fell out the window; Leonid Kozelsky was found hanged by the neck… Too early and too “unfairly” did Natalia Kolobova, Boris Plotkin and some of my other teachers – brilliant professionals and rarely good and honest creative individuals – end their lives!

Narcologists cite nervous strain and stress as the chief reasons for a person’s taking to drinking. That is why surgeons, traumatologists, police officers, actors and journalists are listed among “the most drinking” professionals. It is believed that the “acceptable” daily dose of pure alcohol is not more than 30 g for men and 20 g for women – but can you name a Russian who would be satisfied with just a spoonful of vodka per day? Journalists drink hard in other countries, too. I recently read that one in three white-collar workers in Britain reports to the office suffering from hangover, and one in ten takes a sip from a bottle several times during the working day. The greatest percentage of heavy drinkers in that country is also in the media sector: 41% of the polled journalists admitted they come to work in a state of intoxication, which is four times the average in other professions. Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University gave it to be understood that many journalists take strong alcohol as a way to relax. “It’s not typical, socially motivated alcoholism – it’s a special phenomenon,” he added.

The journalistic community consists of thousands upon thousands of different people. Some feel strong enough to fight injustice – so successfully at times that one can get a bullet as remuneration… Others start drowning their failures and defeats in a glass of vodka or a can of beer – without noticing, however, that their entire life starts sinking, too, and death starts looming large.

It is Journalists’ Memory Day – and we remember everyone. Each fulfilled his or her professional duty to the end – as one could, to the best of one’s abilities. Just a few years ago, I would have put a bottle of vodka near the burning candle, and poured my friends and myself a glass in memory of the colleagues who died – the way it is always done here… But life shows that the right way to do it is to refrain from pouring, refuse to drink, and continue living and writing – to honour their memory…

 

Adjusting instruments of self-regulation

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

A plenary meeting of the Board of the regional branch of the Russian Journalists’ Union in Perm has discussed some ethical aspects of journalistic activities.

Breaches of professional ethical norms have been growing ever more frequent. The Perm Region Journalist’s Code adopted five years ago has been violated in actually each of its provisions. Regional branch chair Olga Loskutova cited numerous examples to prove this point, such as dissemination of commercial or advertising information disguised as journalistic reports; distortion of facts; judicially proven libel; disregard for the professional rights of colleagues or disparagement of the honour and dignity of persons who feature as characters in journalistic stories; copyright violations, etc.

All those practices breed the reader’s or viewer’s distrust of the media and, hence, discredit the very institute of professional journalism. As a result, subscriptions are shrinking, and people are losing interest in radio and TV newscasts – while the number of those receiving information via the Internet is soaring, even despite the unfavourable balance of impartiality and non-professionalism in the online media.

The Grand Jury’s long-time chair Veniamin Sopin reported on the work done and received positive comments. Each Jury decision had been discussed at length in the regional media. But for this honest work of our colleagues, the situation with the observance of ethical norms in journalism might have been still worse.

Your GDF correspondent was elected to the new body of the regional journalistic association’s Grand Jury.

 

 

OUR PARTNERS

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

The Jury of the Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” hereby invites everyone to attend the ceremony to honour this year’s winners which is to open at 3 p.m. December 14 at the Central House of Journalists in Moscow (8a, Nikitsky Boulevard, metro station Arbatskaya).

The tenth annual competition attracted about a hundred authors from all across the Russian Federation – 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’s and nominees’ writings.

The group of five nominees includes Olga Bobrova (Moscow), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; Natalia Ostrovskaya (Vladivostok), newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda; Vladimir Voronov (Moscow), newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno; Georgy Borodyansky (Omsk), newspaper Novaya Gazeta; and Dmitry Florin (Moscow), website Novy Focus. The winner’s name will be announced during the ceremony 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.

2010 Competition Jury composition:

- Chairman - A. K. Simonov, Glasnost Defence Foundation president;

- Members: N. M. Antufyeva, editor-in-chief, newspaper Tsentr Azii, Kyzyl; M. V. Afanasyev, editor-in-chief, web publication Novy Focus, Abakan, 2004 A. Sakharov Award winner; Pilar Bonet, El Pais correspondent; Peter Vince, founder of the Award; B. V. Dubin, sociologist, Levada Centre; A. S. Lebedeva, staff correspondent, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Rostov-on-Don, 2006 A. Sakharov Award winner; S. A. Lurye, full member, Academy of Modern Russian Philology, St. Petersburg; M. S. Muslimova, assistant professor, Russian Language and Literature Methods of Teaching Department, Dagestan State University; I. V. Naidenov, special correspondent, Russkiy Reporter magazine, 2005 A. Sakharov Award winner; A. B. Pankin, editor-in-chief, Strategiya i Praktika Izdatelskogo Biznesa. Ifra-GIPP Magazine; Y. V. Samodurov, co-chairman, All-Russia Civil Congress; T. A. Sedykh, editor-in-chief, newspaper Moyo Poberezhye, Vanino, Khabarovsk Region, 2009 A. Sakharov Award winner; Gregory White, head of Moscow office, The Wall Street Journal; Y. L Chernyshov, observer, newspaper Bogatei, Saratov; A. R. Shirikyan, publisher, Cigar Clan magazine; Susanne Scholl, head of Moscow office, ORF television company, Austria.

- Executive secretary – B. M. Timoshenko, Glasnost Defence Foundation.

 

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 organisation 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
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