Дайджест7 Апреля 2011 года
Glasnost Defence Foundation Digest No. 518
April 4, 2011
Event of the week
Glasnost Defence Foundation
EVENT OF THE WEEK
The Moscow City Court has continued hearings of the murder case of defence lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.
On March 29, the court considered a plea by the defence lawyer for Yevgenia Khasis, one of the defendants, who suggested that the illegal items found during the search may have been planted by the secret agents who had bugged the apartment rented by Khasis and the other defendant, Nikita Tikhonov. The defence requested that the court summon those officers for questioning, but the judge turned the plea down.
The court also declined to question Vladimir Pronin, former chief of Moscow’s Internal Affairs Department, in connection with his having said in one interview that there were “no eyewitnesses to the crime” and it was impossible “to make an identikit of the killer”. The judge noted that it was the Investigative Committee under Moscow’s Prosecutor’s Office that had been assigned to investigate the case, and V. Pronin had nothing to do with that committee. Besides, defence lawyer Vladimir Zherebyonkov, who represents the victims’ interests, said the Moscow police chief might have said that deliberately, in order to mislead the perpetrators.
The prosecution then continued presenting proofs of the defendants’ guilt. Thus, Khasis’ notebook PC turned out to feature the severed head of a man from Central Asia; the photo picture had been stored on the PC prior to the date of its posting in the Internet. Other computer files included statements by the Militant Organisation of Russian Nationalists taking on the responsibility for a number of would-be killings (that were never actually committed); and instructions on how to fire shots in complicated weather conditions (e.g. with a strong wind blowing), and how to use the knife, stalk apartment houses and backyards secretly, etc. A file named “TO LIQUIDATE” featured the names of three judges of the Moscow City Court, Newsru.com reported.
The defendants actively discussed Markelov’s killing and investigators’ performance, as shown by audio recordings made by the secret agents eavesdropping on Tikhonov and Khasis as the latter were trying to guess who of their comrades might have tipped the police as to their whereabouts. Also, asked by Khasis how many people he might kill per day, Tikhonov was overheard as saying, “If not for the cops, I’d spend whole days shooting right and left.”
The recordings were played to the jurors during the following hearing on March 30. As he proceeded to testify, Tikhonov acknowledged that Khasis had been “pretty quick to learn to handle the gun” and that she had participated in charging cartridges, on which he had asked her not to leave her fingerprints, Novaya Gazeta reported. But he declined to identify the persons they had been talking about.
At the March 31 hearing, it was the turn of the defence to start presenting proofs of the defendants’ innocence. Nikita’s father, Aleksandr Tikhonov, said his son is “a Slavophile, not a nationalist”, and that he even criticised the Russians for “the loss of traditional values”. A. Tikhonov also said it was he, a veteran secret service agent, who had taught Nikita some essential professional skills, the Russian Legal and Judicial Information Agency reported.
We will continue following the trial closely.
By Natalia Severskaya,
Yet another journalist writing about campaigners against the destruction of the Khimki forest has been beaten up in Khimki near Moscow. This time, Vitaly Kuzmin of the newspaper Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye was attacked and beaten “with either a baseball bat or a metal bar” on March 21, according to Yevgenia Chirikova, leader of the movement in defence of the Khimki forest.
The journalist himself reported the beating as late as March 28, saying he had been attacked from behind in R. Luxembourg Street. He had tried to protect his head with his hands; so he was brought to a local hospital with a scull trauma and broken fingers.
Kuzmin’s colleagues and friends link the assault with the re-launch of his newspaper after the sudden death of the previous editor, Anatoly Yarov, last December. The new issue featured a lengthy interview with Khimki forest defenders Y. Chirikova, Alla Chernyshova and Serafima Naumocheva, and a story censuring the poor performance of Council members.
Meanwhile, the RIA Novosti news agency has reported the police are investigating Kusmin’s beating. After a phone call from the hospital where he had been brought on the day of the attack, the police started a probe into the circumstances, regional police department spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said. Yet the victim does not want official criminal proceedings to be instituted, calling the attack “a matter to be settled privately”.
By Olga Vassilyeva,
Aleksandr Chernega, the author, editor and publisher of the newspaper Paramushir-Vesti, is preparing for a new trial.
The GDF wrote about that journalist thrice before – in Digests 510, 512 and 515. He won in court defending against a legal claim filed by an attorney, who is also chairman of the regional election committee, and was beaten up by unknown attackers in February (which incident is still under investigation).
Since his discharge from hospital, Chernega has released several issues of his newspaper. In one of them, published in March, he described the city mayor as a “frozen and impeded person”, whom he advised “to read newspapers once in a while”. The mayor claimed insulted and demanded RUR 1 m in moral damage compensation. His interests in court will be represented by defence lawyer Antonenko – the one who lost to Chernega in court recently.
Here is what Aleksandr Chernega told the GDF correspondent:
- I’ll be happy to publish a refutation saying, “The court has established that Mayor A. Krinitsyn, contrary to what editor A. Chernega asserts, is not ‘frozen’ or ‘impeded’ and that he ‘does read newspapers from time to time’.” I have already published a refutation of that kind within the framework of an amicable settlement on a conflict over my having called the director of a large industrial enterprise “homeless” and “poor”. In a refutation statement, I said he only had three apartments in the city, had reported RUR 600,000 as his income for the past two years, over which time he had purchased a car, yet another apartment and a snowmobile worth a total of 2-odd million roubles…
By Vladimir Golubev,
The prosecutor’s office in Pervouralsk, Sverdlovsk Region, has declared unlawful the detention of Dmitry Salyukov, a correspondent for the newspaper Gorodskiye Vesti-Pervouralsk, during last November’s official visit to the city by Premier Vladimir Putin. The head of the city police was instructed in that connection to have the guilty persons held liable, Prosecutor Aleksandr Rudykh told the URA.ru news agency.
Salyukov and two other persons, among them Aleksandr Klyukin, leader of the Revda-based EcoCare Association, were detained on November 18, as Putin was taking part in putting into operation an arc-furnace melting shop at the Novotrubny tube-rolling mill. All the three spent about 5 hours at the police station.
In preparation for a protest action planned by environmentalists, A. Klyukin had brought about a hundred black balloons to be handed to passers-by and sent up into the sky. D. Salyukov intended to publish a report about the action.
The police officers told the detainees that sending up black balloons was dangerous, since the premier’s helicopter was to fly over the city shortly. The prosecutor’s office checked the circumstances of Salyukov’s detention in response to a complaint filed by his newspaper’s management.
By Vassily Moseyev,
After Yekaterina Tseulya, a student of journalism taking an internship course with the newspaper Permskiye Novosti, broke a finger late on July 13 last year, she turned for assistance to the accident ward at Municipal Hospital No. 4. The negligent treatment she received caused her to tell the details to journalist Darya Churilova of the same newspaper, who decided to take a closer look at how traumatology centres in Perm perform.
Soon an article was published, entitled “Treatment with Preconditions: Intricacies of Night-Time Traumatology”. Describing the first-aid process at Hospital No. 4, the author wrote, “An intoxicated nurse chucked up a plaster bar, cursing the girl in the filthiest language ever for not waiting until the morning. After the broken finger was plastered somehow, the patient felt good she hadn’t had another one broken in the process…”
Maria Gashchenko, a lawyer with the regional Human Rights Centre, turned to the same accident ward a few days later, having received a blow on the temple from a mentally imbalanced woman. She spent an hour and a half telling one and the same story now to the registry lady, now to the dentist, now to the surgeon to whom she was wrongfully directed. But when she reached the traumatologist’s in the long run, his office turned out to be locked, with a long queue of unattended patients waiting in the corridor.
The lawyer reported on the medics’ negligent attitude to injured people in the human rights newspaper Za Cheloveka, adding an excerpt from the Permskiye Novosti story about a broken finger.
Nurse Natalia Diyeva, whose name was not mentioned in either of the two articles, figured out by the date of the publication it was she who was the main character, and filed a legal claim in defence of her honour, dignity and business reputation, demanding RUR 100,000 from Tseulya and each of the two newspapers.
Her colleagues from the traumatology centre posed as witnesses for the prosecution. The hospital had furnished a document certifying the “unbearable moral suffering” with “attending neurosis” to which the plaintiff had been subjected as a result of the “libellous” publications. And a certificate of soberness was supplied by the tram depot where she had been examined by a paramedic after her night shift at the hospital before starting a day’s shift as a tram driver (sic!). She turned out to work only part time as a nurse…
The Leninsky District court in Perm, chaired by Judge Y. Baksanova, did not hear out Permskiye Novosti’s D. Churilova, did not call into question the validity of the hospital-supplied “moral suffering” certificate, and disregarded the public significance of the publications exposing medics’ negligent attitude to patients. The court declared both articles libellous and smearing the good name of nurse Natalia Diyeva, and charged RUR 100,000 to Permskiye Novosti and RUR 5,000 to Y. Tseulya, payable to the plaintiff in moral damage compensation, but no fine to the newspaper Za Cheloveka due to its reference to the original source when reprinting the broken finger story.
The higher-standing regional court in Perm left the newspaper’s protest unsatisfied, in defiance of Supreme Court Decision No. 16 “On the Application of the RF Media Law”, in which Article 30 warns against charging inordinately large compensation amounts from media outlets. To Permskiye Novosti, the payment of 100,000 roubles to Diyeva may mean closure.
By Dmitry Florin,
Aleksandr Tokarev, reporter for the newspaper Astrakhanskaya Pravda, has been convicted of insulting a government official (under Article 319 of the RF Criminal Code). It all began on May 31, 2010 during a rally in Astrakhan’s Bratsky Garden in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. Ms. Yemelina, an official of the Kirovsky District administration, tore away the journalist’s photo camera which fell and broke. Tokarev’s repeated complaints to the police and prosecutor’s office in a bid to get Yemelina held liable resulted in nothing.
Tokarev described the conflict in an angry article that censured the police officers who watched law and order during the rally for staying indifferent to what was going on. That publication gave rise to criminal proceedings instituted against him on September 19 on charges of defaming a police officer on duty.
“In court, I publicly apologised to the police officer, Mr Susin, and we agreed I would also publish an apology on the pages of my newspaper,” Tokarev said. “The officer proved sensible enough not to fan the conflict further. But the prosecutor was resolutely against an amicable settlement.”
The judge turned down the journalist’s plea for closing the case and sentenced him to a fine of RUR 20,000. District Judge Solovyov confirmed that sentence, which came into full legal force a few days ago.
Astrakhanskaya Pravda has announced a fundraising campaign to help its author pay the fine imposed on him by the court.
By Anna Seleznyova,
As she was writing a story about the illegal felling of trees and timber smuggling in the city of Dalnerechensk, Maritime Region, in March, journalist Natalia Fonina of the district newspaper Udarny Front turned to the city police department for information. She had filed her questions in advance and was hoping to get the police chief answer them briefly and to the point. A secretary sent her to police department acting head O. Khan, who wondered what the young reporter wanted to know.
- I am interested in timber contraband cases – those already investigated and subject to public discussion. I would expect you to comment on the unlawful cutting of forests and timber smuggling in Dalnerechensk.
- Why are you so sure I’m going to talk to you about that at all?
- Okay then, I’ll note in my report that you came up with a “No comment” reply.
- Shall I take this as a threat?!
- By no means – I am only stating my intentions. Acting behind your back would be improper …
Khan was enraged. “No one is supposed to ask me this kind of questions!” he roared, promising to do everything in his power to kill the reporter’s interest in matters related to timber smuggling.
“If that’s the way they talk to media reporters, then how do they treat ordinary citizens?” Fonina wondered in a conversation with the GDF correspondent.
The Board of the Belarussian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has made public a statement urging an immediate end to pressure on the journalists.
The statement says freelance reporters have found it exceedingly difficult to work in Belarus lately.
Journalists and BAJ members Vladimir Laptsevich, Ales Osiptsov and Dmitry Solovyov were detained in Mogilev on the eve of Freedom Day (March 25) and then tried and sentenced to 3 to 7 days of administrative arrest. TV journalist Vladislav Staroverov was kept for several hours at a police station in Vitebsk. “All those detentions were unjustified,” the statement says. “On March 25 law enforcers – both in uniform and in plain clothes – again prevented journalists from doing their professional work, i.e., providing coverage of street rallies.”
On March 28 alone, the Supreme Economic Court turned down two complaints – by the newspaper Narodnaya Volya and the radio station Avtoradio – about official warnings issued by the Information Ministry without due reason. Criminal proceedings have reportedly been instituted against journalist Andrei Pochobut under Article 368.1 of the Belarussian Criminal Code (“Defamation of the President”). Aleksandr Lashmankin, editor-in-chief of the Russian news agency Svoboda, has been stripped of his accreditation with the Belarussian Foreign Ministry. Shortly before that, he was taken off a train at Orsha and sentenced to three days of administrative arrest – allegedly for disorderly behaviour.
“Those developments clearly signal a campaign to target media workers,” the BAJ statement says. “The state demonstrates brazen disrespect for the journalists’ rights, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This is a continuation of the repressive campaign launched against journalists after December 19, 2010. Seven reporters and BAJ members are facing the charges of organising, and participating in, mass unrests. One of the accused, Aleksandr Otroshchenkov, has already been sentenced to four years in a tight-security colony (the sentence has not yet entered into force). Six others – Irina Khalip, Natalia Radina, Aleksandr Feduta, Sergey Voznyak, Pavel Severinets and Dmitry Bondarenko – are awaiting trial. Each may be in for up to 15 years of imprisonment,” the BelaPAN news agency cites the BAJ as saying.
The BAJ “resolutely denounces the harassment of colleagues, demands an immediate end to the pressure on journalists and the media, and reminds everyone that freedom of expression is not only a fundamental civil liberty but also a criterion of the observance of other rights and freedoms.”
[Belorusskiy Partizan website report, March 30]
GLASNOST DEFENCE FOUNDATION
Attacks on journalists – 7 (Vladimir Bogatyryov, newspaper Grazhdansky Golos, Kaliningrad Region; Gennady Sulimenko, commentator, Omsk State TV/Radio Company, Omsk; Irina Muzyka, correspondent, Chas Pik TV show, Moscow; Igor Makeyev, freelance journalist, Kaliningrad Region; Sergey Topol, freelance journalist, Moscow; REN TV crew of reporters, Moscow; Vitaly Kuzmin, reporter, newspaper Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye, Moscow Region).
Instances of censorship – 5 (website Vesti Karelii, Komi Republic; Tambov media, Tambov; Amur.Info news agency, Blagoveshchensk; Dozhd TV channel, Moscow; RF Investigative Committee Department for Republic of Mariy El).
Criminal charges against journalists and media – 2 (Andrey Koretsky, editor, UralDaily website, Chelyabinsk; Boris Obraztsov, founder and editor, newspaper Tridevyaty Region, Kaliningrad).
Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 1 (Yebgeny Kotyayev, editor-in-chief, newspaper Kurskaya Pravda, Kursk).
Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 8 (Yulia Aleksandrova, correspondent, Tulskiye Novosti news agency, Tula; Yevgeny Feldman, correspondent, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Pyotr Zimovets, reporter, newspaper Oblastniye Vesti, Kursk Region; Aleksandr Alperovich and Andrei Morgunov, correspondents, newspaper Grazhdansky Golos, Nizhny Novgorod; Vladimir Mashatin, photo correspondent, newspaper Noviye Izvestia, Moscow; Dmitry Salyukov, journalist, Gorodskiye Vesti newspaper, Sverdlovsk Region; Natiya Paladashvili and Andrei Lisichenko, correspondent and cameraman, First Georgian TV Channel, St. Petersburg).
Legal claims against journalists and media, registered – 31, worth a total of RUR 66,974,500.
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.) – 29.
Threats against journalists and media – 5 (web publications Studline and Zebra, Voronezh; newspaper Zianchurinskiye Zori, Republic of Bashkortostan; newspaper Kabansk-Info, Republic of Buryatia; Natalia Beshkareva, editor-in-chief, newspaper Pro Gorod, Republic of Komi; Andrei Khokhlov, observer, newspaper Gorodskiye Novosti, Krasnoyarsk).
Ejection of publication etc. from its premises – 1 (newspaper Sobytiya, Moscow Region).
Refusal to print (or distribute) media – 1 (newspaper Moy Rayon, St. Petersburg).
Disruption or radio or TV broadcasts – 1 (state radio station, North Ossetia).
Closure of media – 2 (newspaper Sovet, Moscow Region; newspaper Vecherny Novosibirsk, Novosibirsk).
Withdrawal, purchase or confiscation of print run – 6 (newspaper Nam Vsyo Yasno, Petrozavodsk; newspaper Pyatnitsa-13, Perm; newspaper Permskiye Sosedi, Perm; newspaper Spravedlivaya Rossiya-Peterburg, St. Petersburg; newspaper Chestnoye Slovo v Nashem Gorode, Tula Region; newspaper Zapolyarye, Republic of Komi).
Interference with Internet publications – 12 (website irinagundareva.com, Chelyabinsk; website of North Caucasian Ecological Watch; website of Tulskiye Novosti news agency, Tula; websites NeSekretno and Permskiye Sosedi, Perm; web portal LiveJournal; Websites of Russian Radio, Russian News Service, and radio stations HIT FM, Maximum, DFM and Monte Carlo).
Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire and tax services) - 7 (newspapers Moy Rayon, Vash Tainy Sovetnik, MK v Pitere, Fontanka.ru, and Gorod 812 magazine – all in St. Petersburg; newspaper Kurskaya Pravda, Kursk; Dagestan TV/Radio Company, Republic of Dagestan).
Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists’ rights – 44.
The Republican State Broadcasting Company “Dagestan” has asked the Glasnost Defence Foundation for a legal assessment of the administrative sanctions it has been subjected to under Article 19.20.2 of the RF Administrative Code (“Breach of broadcasting license terms and conditions”).
The documentation under study included “Act of Systematic Monitoring No. А-15586-05-05/00”, “Broadcasting License No. 15586”, “License to Provide Broadcasting-Related Services No. 74291”, “Authorisation to Use Radio Frequencies or Radio Frequency Channels No. 634-10-0692”, “Protocol of Administrative Offence of February 10, 2011”, and “Explanatory Note to Administrative Case of February 10, 2011”.
As established, in the course of systematic monitoring of Dagestan Company’s performance by RosKomNadzor (RKN, federal service overseeing the sphere of public communications), the absence of signal was registered in the village of Verkhneye Inkho, with an appropriate protocol of administrative offence made on February 10, 2011. RKN qualified that as “a non-profit activity performed in violation of the terms and conditions of a special permit (license), if the latter is officially required”.
Dagestan Co. management, explaining the circumstances, said that its idleness in the said village was due to the company’s going through the process of document formalisation. Besides, the very existence of a license does not require the commencement of broadcasting at a specific calendar date. Thus, its non-operation while obtaining the necessary authorisations (broadcasting license, authorisation to use frequency, service provision license, and registration certificate) cannot be qualified in terms of Article 19.20.2 of the RF Administrative Code.
Having reviewed the documents submitted for study, the GDF Legal Service drew the following conclusions:
After obtaining a license to broadcast at Verkhneye Inkho on November 27, 2009, Dagestan Co. turned to RKN requesting a license to provide broadcasting-related services, which document (No. 74291) it received on April 1, 2010, requiring the company to start providing agreed services no later than April 1, 2012. Thereafter, in line with Article 24 of the Federal Law “On Public Communications”, Dagestan Co. requested authorisation for the use of radio frequency (frequency channels), which it received on September 1, 2010, requiring it to start operating no later than September 1, 2011. Throughout the process, the company strictly observed the provisions of effective legislation.
Therefore, temporary idleness caused by the need to formalise the above-named authorisation documents cannot possibly be qualified as a breach of license requirements. In view of all of the above, and guided by RF Government Decision No. 1359 of December 7, 1994, the GDF concludes that:
1. Dagestan Co.’s non-operation at Verkhneye Inkho, Republic of Dagestan, at the time mentioned above did not constitute an administrative offence as defined by Article 19.20.2 of the RF Administrative Code.
2. The sanctions imposed by RKN on Dagestan Co. in view of its non-operation at Verkhneye Inkho at the time mentioned above were unjustified.
3. The administrative proceedings in respect of Dagestan Co. in line with the RKN protocol should be terminated pursuant to Article 24.5 of the RF Administrative Code – in view of no event of an administrative offence.
[Svetlana Zemskova, GDF Legal Consultant]
This Digest has been prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF), http://www.gdf.ru.
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