28 Июля 2011 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 529

July 25, 2011



Perm Region. Court turns down legal claim against editor

By Vassily Moseyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

The regional court in Perm has completed hearings, which lasted more than a year, of a moral compensation claim in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation.

On April 2, 2010, the Kuyedinsky District newspaper Za Spravedlivost, issued by the local branch of the Communist party, published “Selected Comments from Newspaper Zvezda’s Website” that contained criticism of the local police chief, Col. Vladimir Plishkin. The colonel found some of the comments insulting, including such phrases as “The police chief is a patron of local gangsters…”, “Himself, he acts like a gangster…”, “He doesn’t care a damn about what goes on in the district…”, etc. Seeing those comments as falling under the effect of Article 152 of the RF Civil Code (“Circulation of false and smearing information”), Plishkin filed a legal claim, demanding a refutation and RUR 1 m from the editor in moral damage compensation.

Editor N. Bashmakov, however, filed a counterclaim, explaining that he had reprinted the comment from another newspaper’s website and, in line with Article 57.6 of the RF Media Law, it was not he but the original source, Zvezda, was to be held answerable for the publication.

Zvezda editor Sergey Trushnikov, for his part, contended that, pursuant to Supreme Court Resolution No. 16 of June 15, 2010, “On Media Law Application by RF Courts”, his newspaper was not to be held liable either, since the comment in question had been reprinted from Zvezda’s chat forum in an unedited form.

The GDF reported on this legal conflict late last year and promised to keep the readers informed about further developments.

In April, the Kuyedinsky District court turned Plishkin’s legal claim down, causing the police chief to appeal against that decision to the higher-standing regional court. The latter left the primary court’s ruling in force, qualifying the controversial comment as an expression of its author’s personal opinion about a government officer’s performance. The regional court, too, turned Plishkin’s claim down citing Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention which requires public officials to be more tolerant to criticism. “This is necessary for them to perform their official duties in a transparent and responsible manner,” the final ruling said.

That was the last report by Vassily Moseyev, who died recently. A former head of the Perm Region branch of the RF Journalists’ Union, he was one of the best GDF correspondents in the 20 years of our Foundation’s operation


Moscow Region. Legal charges brought against official who crippled reporter

By Natalia Severskaya,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

Investigators of the Naro-Fominsk District police department have started legal proceedings under Article 112 of the RF Criminal Code (“Deliberate infliction of medium-gravity bodily damage”) against a municipal administration official who attacked Alexander Koltsov, a reporter for the local newspaper Nara-Novost, two months ago.

The attack was preceded by Koltsov’s critical publication about the collapse of a pedestrian overpass in Naro-Fominsk. Shortly afterward, Maxim Pomitun, the administration official overseeing the municipal media, called the newspaper office to express dissatisfaction with Koltsov’s article and promised to meet the journalist and “have it out” with him. The meeting took place late on May 22. After a brief verbal exchange, Pomitun attacked Koltsov and proceeded to beat him. The reporter was left with numerous bruises, a large facial haematoma and a badly cut eyelid. He had to spend two weeks in district hospital and quite a long time receiving out-patient treatment. Worst of all, he partially lost his eyesight.

After Koltsov reported the beating to the Naro-Fominsk police, the latter checked the circumstances and instituted criminal proceedings against Pomitun, who is now in for up to three years in prison.


Republic of Karelia. FSB becomes alerted to investigative journalism

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

Investigative journalists need to have special knowledge and skills in order not to be turned themselves into targets for persecution. That is why media workers in Russia’s north-west heartily welcomed the announced opening of a school for investigative journalists – the more so the group of organisers included experienced and renowned specialists from the Swedish-Danish project Scoop Russia.

Scoop worked in some other ex-Soviet countries before the associations of investigative journalists of Sweden (FGJ) and Denmark (FUJ), operating under the auspices of the International Media Support (IMS) group, came to Russia earlier this year. Journalists in the North-Western Federal District were the first to take training courses. The Scoop seminar held in Petrozavodsk was, in the view of its participants, very interesting and useful, focusing of methods of investigation and ways of organising legal support.

After the seminar, however, its organisers in Petrozavodsk came across problems totally unrelated to educational programmes. The project coordinator was summoned to the FSB for questioning about the “insidious plans” of the Swedish-Danish school of journalism.

During the interrogation, two FSB officers asked the names of seminar participants and the roles they played in the course of the training. The officers claimed to be acting in the interests of Russian journalists who may be “used by Western educators as instruments in their pursuit of evil purposes”. The secret agents wanted to know whether the arrival of foreign investigative journalists in Russia was connected with pending State Duma elections, and what specific topics had been selected for discussion. The Scoop coordinator noted that no one was making secret of the project and anyone was free to visit the Scoop website to get all the necessary information.

Having fulfilled their task, the FSB officers warned the coordinator they would have to meet once again, but did not specify what for.

Karelian FSB agents have lately been seen showing a particular interest in international educational projects, and willing to attend relevant conferences and seminars. A short while ago, they approached a Barents Press project coordinator asking to put an FSB man on the list of seminar participants. The coordinator said yes but warned that before the seminar’s opening every attendee would be presented to the group, and his or her employment place and position would be specified. That instantly killed the secret agents’ desire to “upgrade their skills”. They refrained from appearing at the Barents Press seminar. Whether or not they attended the Scoop workshop is unclear; if they did, they must have acted with insufficient professionalism – otherwise, why ask for an additional meeting with the project coordinator?

P.S. The first Scoop project got underway in 2003; in Russia, it was launched in 2011. It has provided support for a total of 400 successful journalistic investigations in East and South-East European countries.


Republic of Dagestan. Law enforcers hamper journalist’s work

By Magomed Magomedov,
GDF staff correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

On July 14, officers of the Criminal Investigations Department in the Sovetsky District of Makhachkala seized the camera of Ruslan Alibekov, photo correspondent for the Dagestani weekly Chernovik, and erased the photo pictures from the memory stick.

The journalist, who had been taking pictures of the place where Shamil Murtazaliyev, deputy leader of the OMON-1 special police unit, had been killed one day earlier, was surrounded by a group of plain-clothed men who identified themselves as criminal investigators and demanded his camera. “They returned the camera later, but without the memory stick,” the photo correspondent said. “They did return that, too, towards the evening, but all the images had been erased.”

As soon as he learned about the incident, Chernovik’s editor Biyakai Magomedov contacted Magomed Khizriyev, chief of internal security at the Dagestan Internal Affairs Ministry, who promised to look into the circumstances and identify the officers who had hampered the journalist’s work. The newspaper is preparing a request for law enforcement to institute legal proceedings under Article 144 of the RF Criminal Code (“Interference with journalist’s lawful professional activities”), Magomedov said.

This is not for the first time that law enforcers prevent reporters from doing their job in Dagestan. Chernovik journalist Magomed Khanmagomedov was beaten up by two unknown men recently while taking pictures of a house being pulled down in Derbent. No criminal proceedings have been started in connection with that incident so far, because the Investigative Committee in Derbent declined to open a criminal case and reassigned investigation to the local police department, claiming that Khanmagomedov’s beating was outside its jurisdiction as one motivated by personal reasons.


Samara. RosZdravNadzor takes on censor’s functions

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Evidently, Alexander Antimonov, department head with the Samara branch of the Federal Service for Health Care and Social Development Oversight, has too much free time, judging by his willingness to take on a censor’s functions in addition to his primary range of duties. One can draw this conclusion after taking a glance at his claims to the newspaper Puls Povolzhya which published a critical story about supplies of low-grade medicines to the regional pharmaceutical market.

The publication was based on a press release prepared by Antimonov’s own department. However, the department head frowned at some assessments and generalisations the author had taken the liberty to make. Assuming a prosecutor’s stance, Antimonov blamed the newspaper for failing to coordinate the article with him prior to publication, and demanded not only a refutation but also an internal investigation into how the story had happened to be released without his personal approval. He also called for having the author held liable.

Puls Povolzhya appealed to the Grand Jury of the Samara branch of the RF Journalists’ Union asking for help in settling the problems that arose in connection with criticism of the situation on the pharmaceutical market. It also sent Antimonov a message meant to explain to him some basic provisions of effective media legislation and warn him in no uncertain terms that no one is allowed to censor the media in Russia, and that one civilised way to settle a conflict is to exercise one’s right to publish a reply. Let us wait and see whether a high-ranking government official can not only teach others but learn, too…


Kurgan Region. Prosecutor apologises to editor

By Valentina Pichurina,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

Prosecutor Andrei Ganshevsky of the Kargapolsky District, Kurgan Region, has officially apologised on behalf of the state to Lyudmila Mezentseva, former editor of the district newspaper Selskaya Pravda, for wrongfully calling her to criminal responsibility.

Mezentseva was accused of embezzlement and action in excess of her official authority. Four volumes of case files were compiled, and the district administration’s refusal to extend its work agreement with the editor left Mezentseva jobless until the end of preliminary investigation.

According to investigators, Mezentseva as head of the municipal newspaper would unlawfully, without prior coordination with the founder, write out bonuses for herself – in spite of the work agreement provision banning her from “performing any legal action in respect of herself or her family and relatives”. Besides, she was accused of “stealing” RUR 3,500 from the cash office for purposes of celebrating the newspaper’s jubilee in 2005. The editor had to live with this heavy burden of grave accusations for two and a half years under a written pledge not to leave town. Now all those charges have been lifted.

The court established that Article 22 of the RF Labour Code, which the prosecutors claimed Mezentseva had violated, does not restrict an organisation head’s authority as regards assessing or rewarding his or her own work efforts. In line with labour legislation, a salary includes, apart from remuneration for the work done, some stimulating payments (extra pay, bonuses, etc.) The system of pay for municipal servants’ work is regulated by collective agreements, contracts and local legislative acts. One such act, a statute on bonus payment, was among the documents regulating Selskaya Pravda’s performance. In line with it, employees could be paid monthly bonuses from the wage fund in the amount of a monthly salary for the attainment of certain work targets. Considering that each worker’s earnings depend on his or her qualifications, work complexity, time input and quality, and that they therefore are not restricted in size (Article 132 of the RF Labour Code), the editor’s actions were found to be in line with effective legislation and work agreements. The bonus amounts Mezentseva received in 2007 and 2008 did not exceed her 12-month salary for each of the two years and hence were compliant with the bonus payment regulations. The Kargapolsky District administration had not passed by that time any alternative regulatory documents on the payment of bonuses to the workers or heads of municipal institutions.

The vaguely-worded provision in the work agreement with Mezentseva, forbidding her to perform and legal actions in respect of herself or her family, did not allow the court to establish which specific “legal actions” the editor was prohibited to perform. Nor could Lyudmila Kharlova, head of the district administration’s Municipal Property Management Committee, specify which legislative provisions Mezentseva had breached.

As regards the “stolen” money, the editor said she had spent both editorial and her own funds on organising celebrations of Selskaya Pravda’s 75th anniversary, and later received the three and a half thousand roubles from the cash office by way of reimbursement of her personal contribution, which act was duly reflected in the company’s books.

Her becoming the subject of criminal prosecution strangely coincided in time with her refusal to retire on pension, Mezentseva noted. “I wanted to earn the status of a veteran worker, which was due after eight more months of work,” she said. “But that was evidently at odds with the founders’ plans. After I declined to retire, they first ordered an unplanned financial audit and then advanced those criminal charges against me. By the way, ever since then a high-ranking district law enforcer’s wife has worked in my former position.”

After her acquittal in court Lyudmila Mezentseva wanted to be reinstated, but the court turned down her request on the grounds that her former work agreement with the newspaper’s founder had expired and no new one had ever been concluded. Exercising her lawful right to full exoneration, Mezentseva is claiming compensation from the RF Finance Ministry for her wrongful prosecution.


Republic of Altai. Journalist convicted of libel

The city court in Gorno-Altaisk has passed a decision on the case of Sergey Mikhailov, a journalist and deputy of the regional State Assembly, who was accused of smearing Altai Republic Governor Alexander Berdnikov and of instigating interethnic strife.

On July 21, the court found the journalist guilty of libel and sentenced him to a fine of RUR 40,000, while relieving him of the need to pay the penalty in view of the limitation period expiry. As regards the instigation of strife and insult to a government official, those charges were lifted.

The court also satisfied A. Berdnikov’s civil claim in part, awarding him RUR 200,000 in moral damage compensation payable by the journalist instead of the originally claimed amount of RUR 500,000.

S. Mikhailov releases the newspaper Listok which positions itself as the region’s sole opposition publication actively criticising local authorities.

The journalist said he will challenge the sentence before a higher-standing judicial authority. So will the prosecution, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.


Blagoveshchensk. Journalist acquitted

By Olga Vassilyeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

The Amur Region court has acquitted journalist Vladislav Nikitenko of libel in respect of a deputy chair of the Blagoveshchensk city court. Nikitenko is the only journalist in Russia to have been tried on defamation charges five times and acquitted four times.

This unique case was first opened under Article 298 of the RF Criminal Code back in 2003, only to be closed later that year in view of no corpus delicti. It was then reopened on charges of contempt of court (Article 297) – by a queer coincidence soon after Vladislav demanded that his prosecutors be called to responsibility for bringing criminal charges against an a priori innocent person. The case was again closed in 2004 to lie dormant until November 2007, when it was again reopened already after the end of the period of limitation – and again by a strange coincidence, after the twice acquitted defendant demanded an apology from the prosecutor’s office…

The case was repeatedly closed in view of the limitation period expiry, but that was not enough for Nikitenko, who sought full exoneration. On June 8 this year, a jury panel finally acquitted him by a 6-6 vote.

But that did not settle the scandal. According to Nikitenko, the jurors were “carefully selected”. Prosecutor Svetlana Sych, for her part, said she had evidence that one of the jurors was a close friend of the defendant. The defence instantly suggested cancelling the verdict and having Nikitenko tried on embracery charges – Vladislav was ready to stand trial again or get other parties held answerable for their unlawful actions.

Anyway, he intends to challenge his own acquittal before the Supreme Court to be able to unambiguously prove that there were no elements and no event of crime in his actions. The prosecution is unlikely to protest the verdict in view of the limitation period expiry.

Over the years of his journalistic career, Vladislav Nikitenko has stood trial several times. He was first convicted under Article 130 of the Criminal Code of defaming former Khabarovsk governor, Mr Belonogov, in 2000 – and acquitted by the presidium of the Amur Region court in 2008 in view of no elements of crime in his behaviour.

Towards the end of 2008, he was sentenced to a suspended two-year term of imprisonment under his “favourite” Article 298 (“Libel in respect of a judge”), with the same person, judge E. Kuzmina, posing as the victim. Nikitenko admits he was wrong in declining to have his case considered by a jury panel – he hoped the Supreme Court would do full justice to him. Today, he is preparing a package of documents for the Supreme Court Presidium to have him fully exonerated. If he succeeds, he will become Russia’s sole journalist to have been called to criminal responsibility for his professional activities five times – and as many times acquitted! Naturally, he will demand compensation, Nikitenko said and explained why.

“Among Murphy’s and Todd’s fundamental laws,” he said, “there is one that strikes me as the most fundamental. It says, ‘Whatever may be discussed at the moment, money always is the only topic for discussion.’ They started prosecuting me because I was getting in the way when those at the helm were busy dividing money. Today it’s my turn to claim money – in compensation for the newspaper Amursky Letopisets which was shut down after they brought criminal charges against me.”

Vladislav has his own vision of how Russia’s criminal law can be liberalised. He is against crossing out Article 298 from the Criminal Code: citizens must have the right to challenge unfair court rulings. He believes cases involving defamation of judges should necessarily be considered by regional-level courts, with the option of having them handled by jury panels. In his view, this category of cases must be heard only outside the RF constituency on the territory of which an actual or alleged crime was committed.

Moreover, Nikitenko believes the corps of judiciary and government officials would become altogether healthier if all offences against Russia’s government and justice systems, including those against public order and security, as well as the majority of economic crimes, were considered only by jury panels without the opportunity for any defendant from the number of incumbent or former government executives or judges to be tried otherwise.


Khabarovsk. Multi-thousand moral damage claims filed

By Tatyana Sedykh,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

A whole six honour-and-dignity protection claims have been filed against Irina Kharitonova and Konstantin Pronyakin, reporters for the newspaper Khabarovsky Express and authors of the article “Viktor Ishayev’s Power Tree”, as well as against Grand Express Publishers’ and the online newspaper Debri-DV. The total worth of moral damage compensation claimed is RUR 3,240,000.

The way the plaintiffs see it, the article aimed at compromising regional leaders in the eyes of the public by presenting them as corrupt officials allegedly linked with underworld kings. “The publication leads the reader to believe that a crime ring (‘The Tree’) has been formed in the Khabarovsk Region, uniting high-ranking officials, law enforcement commanders, top military officers, and business leaders,” the plaintiffs’ said in their complaints. “The article opens with a passage reading, ‘His efforts in the construction and upbringing areas have been extensive – but most importantly, he has planted a tree [a hint at the well-known maxim, “A man who has built a house, brought up a son and planted a tree did not live in vain” – Translator.]. That is not an ordinary tree. Anyone climbing it up can instantly make a wish: ‘I want everything in this world and no one to punish me for that!’ This is followed by a picture of a tree with an illegible small-font subscript, the content of which is disclosed in the text of the article below. The tree symbolises a community of persons who the authors say are tied together by unseemly behaviour and corrupt practices.”

Similar multi-thousand claims have been filed against the authors by several generals who, though, have never appeared in court so far. According to the defendants, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Yuri Kuleshov did not come to the courtroom either, sending Oksana Fatyanova, an assistant to State Duma Deputy Boris Reznik, to attend the first court sitting in his stead. That hardly surprised anyone, since back in June Reznik, a prominent investigative journalist, had said this in an interview for the newspaper Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda:

“Whenever I become the target of slanderous attacks, I as a civilised person respond by suing. Actually, I was awarded RUR 300,000 in a lawsuit against that apology for a journalist, which sum was then confirmed by the regional court to which he had protested (the primary court’s ruling). Feeling sorry for him, I later asked the regional court presidium to reduce the amount payable to RUR 70,000. Instead of saying thanks, this guy wrote that Reznik’s honour and dignity had grown ‘five times cheaper’. I’ll never take pity on him anymore. We are now preparing about a dozen legal claims against him and the miserable, slanderous local newspaper he works for, which has defamed several prominent and respected personalities – former commanders of the Far Eastern Military District, and two deputy general prosecutors of Russia. As a professional journalist, I think they (the article’s authors) should be given full justice for their slanderous writings.”

I. Kharitonova and K. Pronyakin’s story “Viktor Ishayev’s Power Tree” did mention Reznik’s name among others, but he has not filed any legal claims yet. Nor has V. Ishayev, former regional governor turned President Medvedev’s personal envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. But Ishayev had not filed any legal claims in the wake of critical articles published over the five previous years, either, such as “How Viktor Ivanovich (Ishayev) Chased a Detective on His Jeep”, “The Platinum Governor”, “Ishayev’s Family Business”, “Viktor Ishayev’s Crime Ring”, etc. Why keep silent, not sue as the enraged Boris Reznik did to settle his personal scores with the journalists? If all those publications were not true to life, what stopped Ishayev from gearing the law to shut down that “miserable, slanderous newspaper”, the sole “troublemaker” undermining “peace and harmony” in Khabarovsk, years ago?

Still earlier publications criticising authorities had not entailed any legal consequences for their authors, either; many of those were used as sources of background information for the “Power Tree” story. The question arises as to why the latter publication should give rise to so many multi-thousand claims… Readers of Khabarovsky Express have already suggested in their chat forum comments that we may be witnessing attempts to have the newspaper ruined on the eve of parliamentary elections.

Who but the judges must establish today whether or not I. Kharitonova and K. Pronyakin were guilty of libel, after all? One should not forget, though, that Lyudmila Boldyreva, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda, is currently on trial in Khabarovsk on charges of libel and defamation. Asked by reporters what had caused her to tackle the theme which had brought her into the felon’s dock, she answered sincerely, “I took the field against the justice system which is not always fair in this country…”



Farewell to a friend

GDF staff correspondent Vassily Moseyev died of a heart attack while rafting down the Chusovaya River with a group of friends.

We do not know if Vassily lived the kind of life he liked, but that he lived and died the way many of us would like to, is perfectly true. He was firm and reliable; he was soft and well-mannered; and he was always sincere. We deeply mourn the loss of one of our Foundation’s dearest friends.



“To rest on one’s oars today is wrong…” (Dedicated to GDF’s 20th anniversary)

By Elvira Goryukhina

There was something about the event [GDF 20th anniversary celebrations – Translator.] I was attending from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. that made me think of jubilee celebrations that had taken place in Tbilisi in March 2003. We had been marking the jubilee of Rezo Chkheidze, director of the legendary film “Soldier’s Father”. Rusiko, the director’s wife, told me she had tried hard to persuade her husband not to hold a “traditional” party. “Rezo, you’re so nice and smart,” she had told him. “Just think of it: you’re sitting in an armchair, with people coming onstage to say hackneyed words about things you know all too well that they think you’ve long since forgotten.” But he was firm, and something wonderful had happened that day, turning the event into a real feast for everyone who’d ever been in the filmmaking business! The grown-up children from Chkheidze and Abuladze’s first film, “Magdana’s Donkey”, and Kakha Kavsadze from “Don Quixote”, and the incomparable Sofiko Chiaureli from “Our Neighbourhood” had all come onstage to greet Rezo… This time, people whom Simonov had introduced as “our Foundation’s clients” became the heroes of the Glasnost Defence Foundation’s jubilee celebrations.

Each client sat down on a chair in the centre of a round table to tell us yet another story of a person saved. The degree of sincerity was so high that I felt a tickling in my throat. However different the circumstances, one could see all those stories had something important in common. As a rule, they were about resistance to authorities boiling up to a point at which those at the helm would order repressive measures against individuals in the opposition. Finding oneself locked in a prison cell, a person would start feeling desperately lonesome and unable to change anything; that was the most dramatic moment, many said.

Historians studying details of the December 14, 1825 uprising in Russia say prisoners sometimes appeared to be “excessively” frank, which added to the gravity of their situation. In reality, what Decembrists feared most of all was that they might be forgotten. The “dungeon effect” – a prisoner’s feeling of silently sinking into oblivion – was the worst torture for them.

Centuries after, at this time of glasnost and information, people still fear obscurity the most, speakers pointed out. The first sigh of relief came, as a rule, when the news about their detention reached the Glasnost Defence Foundation. From that moment on, they felt they were not alone in their fight for justice, and imprisonment no longer seemed as disastrous to them as it had until then. Novaya Gazeta’s correspondent in Samara gave this chronicle of events:

“They came to search the office at 9:20. At 9:25, [editor-in-chief] Muratov called on the phone. Fifteen minutes later, [GDF president] Simonov called.”

“Getting an innocent person out of jail is always a major record of success for the GDF,” the Samara prisoner stated. Actually, what he called a success is an enormously difficult process that sometimes takes years to complete.

Glasnost, this abstract and pretty threadbare notion, thus takes the form of practical action.

As it turns out, our president doesn’t like the word “glasnost”. “Freedom of expression” sounds better to him.

But with its entire history, the GDF has convincingly proved that any fight for justice begins with glasnost – with public reporting on the socially unjust treatment to which a person has been subjected. That climaxes in something hidden and unnamed becoming publicly known and clearly defined. Whenever a person maltreated by the regime learns about the GDF stepping in to defend him, this always signals a psychological turning point, when one gets the message that he is no longer alone, he has been heard, and help is upcoming, speakers said. […]


Remembering everyone by name

By Vladimir Golubev,
GDF staff correspondent in Urals Federal District

On the eve of the GDF’s 20th anniversary, for the first time ever, I visited the bed of honour in which my grandfather, Georgy Golubev, who died fighting near Moscow in 1941, rests. Our family had waited for that day for nearly 70 years, because the “killed in battle” notice never came…

True, we had a letter from his platoon commander, who wrote they had rushed to the attack together when a German shell exploded nearby, killing my granddad. The letter indicated Georgy’s last fight had been near the village of Dorokhovo in the Zvenigorod, currently Odintsovsky, District. But my great-grandmother, Dora Golubeva, never received an official confirmation, although she kept sending inquiries to Defence Ministry archives and military units where her son might have fought, for 25 years after the war. As any other mother, she hoped her son was alive. “He may be in hospital, gravely wounded, but alive,” she would say. – “Listed as MIA,” official replies said.

Not so long ago, I happened to leaf through a remembrance book – one of those that were published in each region of Russia in the 1990s listing the names of soldiers called up by the local army commissariats to fight in World War II. It was in the 14th, additional, volume that I finally read three lines that caused my heart to beat faster: “Private Georgy G. Golubev, born 1911, died December 2, 1941, buried in the village of Khomyaki, Zvenigorod District, Moscow Region.”

The map showed the villages of Dorokhovo and Khomyaki were only 5-6 kilometres apart, on different sides of the Mozhaisky Highway. I sent inquiries to different organisations in the Odintsovsky District but received a reply only from Anatoly Shudykin, chairman of the Council of Deputies in the township of Kubinka within the borders of which the two villages are located. I am deeply grateful to this responsive, very tactful man, whom I asked to check whether my grandfather’s name was on either of the two common graves. Mr Shudykin turned out a lieutenant-colonel in the reserve, who graduated from our Tank and Artillery Academy in Sverdlovsk. First, he wrote there was no such name on the obelisks, but then he personally filed an official inquiry with the military archives, and on May 31 I received the long-awaited news from him: “It has been established for certain that Georgy G. Golubev is buried in the bed of honour in the village of Khomyaki within the township of Kubinka. I bow down before the memory of his heroic deed and congratulate you and your family on the results of our research. See you in Kubinka soon!”

I will remember that trip forever. By the time of my arrival, my grandfather’s name had already been inscribed on one of the memory plaques. Village headman Anatoly Chekov said that of more than 500 soldiers buried in that common grave, Georgy Golubev’s name became only the 99th name known; the rest are still unknown. And their number has steadily grown: the remains of seven more unknown soldiers excavated during the construction of an apartment block were buried there last spring. Only one of them had a soldier’s badge that experts are now trying to decipher.

Many thanks again to everyone who helped me find my grandfather’s tomb. Hopefully, my story will seem inspiring to those who have not given up hope to find the death place of their relatives, heroes of that devastating war.



Dmitry Furman died

Dmitry Yefimovich Furman, a prominent political scientist, historian, sociologist and researcher of religion; chief researcher with the Institute of Europe under the Russian Academy of Sciences and jury member of the Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” (2001-2004), died at his home at 5:45 p.m. on July 22. The funeral ceremony begins in the morgue of the RAS Central Clinic at 1a, Litovsky Boulevard, at 11 a.m. on July 26.


Dmitry Furman’s calling and longing to think gave him the strength to live overcoming his serious illness during the past two years. Ever since his disease was diagnosed in late 2008, in a situation where others would go to pieces, he did not allow himself a single day of idleness, courageously doing what he proudly called his “daily load of work” and releasing 10-12 articles per year. Dmitry ceased working only two days before he died, saying, “I’ve done my all.” Several hours later he stopped breathing.


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.
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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