22 Декабря 2011 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 550

19 December 2011



Chernovik editor Khadzhimurad Kamalov murdered in Makhachkala

By Magomed Magomedov, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Prominent journalist and human rights activist Khadzhimurad Kamalov, the founder of the independent newspaper Chernovik, was gunned down in Makhachkala on 15 December as Russia was marking Murdered Journalists’ Remembrance Day.

According to the eyewitnesses, Chernovik’s chief editor Biyakai Magomedov and publishing editor Karimullah Magomedov, as Kamalov was getting into a taxi near his office, a light-coloured Lada Priora with the number 640 on its license plate pulled over; an unknown man got out of it to fire 14 (sic!) shots at the journalist, with 6 bullets hitting the target. Gravely wounded, Kamalov nevertheless attempted to detain the attacker, but the latter broke loose, ran toward the waiting car and drove away. Colleagues rushed Kamalov to the nearest hospital but he died en route.

His next-day funeral brought together, by different estimates, 2,000-3,500 people; his body was carried by hand over the heads of the crowd for nearly 10 km from the mosque in Kotrov Street to the International Cemetery. Mourning rally speakers included prominent Dagestani public figures; Geidar Dzhemal, head of Russia’s Islamic Committee; and Maxim Shevchenko of Moscow’s Modern World Religion and Politics Strategic Research Centre.

Dagestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov expressed condolences to the journalist’s family, friends and colleagues and said he will personally oversee the investigation of his killing. “Kamalov did a lot to make the press freer and help people exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression,” he said. “He held an active life stand and vigorously fought against evil practices. He always called for peace, unity and public dialogue. His death is an irreparable loss not only for the journalistic community but also for the whole of our republic, since Kamalov was a prominent public activist with whom we closely co-operated and whose opinion mattered much to us. He was a member of the Presidential Economic Council who put forth many interesting initiatives that we planned to implement.”

The president added that the killing must have been masterminded by “those opposed to peace, stability and development” and who “would like to destabilise the situation and sow chaos in the republic”.

Magomedsalam Magomedov said the investigators already have gathered some evidence “giving reasons to hope that the crime will be solved soon”.

Kamalov’s relatives and friends said they have set up an organising committee to coordinate further action. In view of not a single high-resonance killing of journalists ever solved in Dagestan so far, they plan to establish a Khadzhimurad Kamalov Memory Fund and to hire professional detectives to investigate his murder.

P.S. Chernovik journalists are busy working on a special newspaper issue entirely dedicated to their colleague’s memory.


Journalists continue to be killed in Dagestan

By Vakha Chapanov, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

In 2005-2006, Khadzhimurad Kamalov was chief editor of Chernovik, a weekly newspaper known for its sharp criticism of the Dagestani authorities. He consistently defended people’s rights and liberties on the pages of his newspaper and used all legally allowed means to make law enforcement effectively investigate crimes committed in the republic. This more than once led to his clashes with corrupt government and law-enforcement officials. Also, Kamalov actively defended believers’ rights.

From the very outset, Chernovik has been listed as an opposition newspaper. Officials repeatedly lodged legal claims against it in a bid to get it shut down, but the journalists won all the cases in court. Kamalov’s articles assessing the social and political situation in Dagestan were reprinted by leading Russian and foreign newspapers.

Dagestan’s Investigative Committee has started criminal proceedings under Articles 105.1 (“Homicide”) and 222.1 (“Illegal turnover of arms”), according to a committee spokesman. One of the major versions currently being checked links the journalist’s murder with his professional activities.

This is not the first journalist killing in Dagestan: earlier this year alone, Yakhya Magomedov, editor of the Avar-language version of the Islamic newspaper As-Salam, and Garun Kurbanov, chief of the presidential administration’s Information Policy and Press Department, died at the hands of unidentified assassins.



Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience” handed in Moscow

By Natalia Yusupova, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

A ceremony to honour the winners of this year’s Andrei Sakharov Competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience” was held in Moscow’s Central House of Journalist on 15 December, with the jury keeping the public in suspense until the very last moment by not disclosing the laureate’s name until the ceremony’s opening.

The Sakharov Award is traditionally conferred on journalists for publishing stories that reflect the authors’ active life stands and defend the values which Dr. Sakharov used to defend during his lifetime. Geographically, the contest covers the whole of Russia from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk to Kaliningrad and from Karelia to Tyva and Kabardino-Balkaria. In different years, the main prize went to Elvira Goryukhina, Anna Politkovskaya, Galina Kovalskaya, Otto Latsis, Dmitry Furman and others – people who are thought to be the pride of Russian journalism.

This year’s (eleventh) competition attracted about a hundred authors in different regions across Russia. The jury selected 14 finalists whose writings produced the greatest impression, among them Viktor Bulavintsev (Novaya Gazeta vo Vladivostoke newspaper, Vladivostok); Pavel Gutiontov (Delovoi Vtornik newspaper, Moscow); Abdulla Duduyev (DOSH magazine, Moscow); Vassily Avchenko (Novaya Gazeta vo Vladivostoke newspaper, Vladivostok); Natalya Ostrovskaya (Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Vladivostok); Lev Rubinstein (Grani.ru web newspaper, Moscow); Lada Glybina (Dalnevostochniye Vedomosti newspaper, Vladivostok); Boris Vishnevsky (Novaya Gazeta newspaper, St. Petersburg, and others.

A group of six nominees was further selected, which included Yelena Kostyuchenko of Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Dmitry Florin, founder of the InterKavkaz.ru website, Moscow; Novaya Gazeta regional correspondents Georgy Borodyansky of Omsk and Alexei Tarasov of Krasnoyarsk; Natalya Fonina of Arsenyevskiye Vesti, Vladivostok; and Russia’s best-known prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The final voting revealed the name of this year’s winner – Georgy Borodyansky. A GDF correspondent in Siberia, he was in the group of nominees in 2010 too, when he lost by only one vote, according to the jury chairman, GDF President Alexei Simonov. So this year’s victory comes well-deserved to him.

The jury awarded a special diploma to the imprisoned oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky for a series of articles published by The News Times and Kommersant-Vlast magazines and the newspaper Vedomosti. The diploma was received on his behalf by his parents.

Honorary diplomas were given not only to all the finalists but also to the media that had published their writings. The largest number of Sakharov diplomas went this year to correspondents for Novaya Gazeta. A special diploma was awarded to Anna Selesnyova, a member of the Public Council under the Maritime Region Human Rights Ombudsman and a GDF correspondent in the Far Eastern Federal District – “for strengthening the Andrei Sakharov Award’s prestige in the Far East”.

The award-presentation ceremony coincided in time with Murdered Journalists’ Remembrance Day, marked on 15 December. Sadly, that day was again stained with yet another Russian journalist’s blood – Khadzhimurat Kamalov, editor of the Dagestani opposition newspaper Chernovik, was killed in Makhachkala that evening.



Rostov Region. Newspaper editor detained by police, released hours later

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Alexander Tolmachev, editor of the newspaper Upolnomochen Zayavit, along with Vit Co. director Yuri Galagan and deputy director Yelena Morozova, were detained by officers of the regional counter-terrorism police force in Novocherkassk late on 15 December.

While confirming the fact of their detention, the police refused to supply details pending a decision on whether to bring criminal charges against the detainees.

The Rostov news agency cited a law enforcement spokesman as saying that the arrest followed a confidential report about Tolmachev and the two Vit Co. head managers allegedly attempting to extort a BMW car worth 1.2m roubles (US $400,000) from businessmen Kozlov of Sofia Ltd., in exchange for not publishing compromising information about his son, 25, an officer of the task force against economic crime.

Tolmachev himself described the incident as another provocation by the regional court often coming under criticism in his publications.

All the three persons were released after a few hours at the police station.

Omsk. Governor’s legal claim turned down in full

By Georgy Borodyansky,

GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Judge Irina Magdenko of the Oktyabrsky district court in Omsk has turned down in full a legal claim lodged by Governor Leonid Polezhayev against elderly human rights activist Valentin Kuznetsov who said addressing a crowd of protesters that the regional head “has ruined the Omsk Region industry and agriculture and subjected residents to economic genocide”. The governor claimed half a million roubles in moral damages from the pensioner (see Digest 547).

Many local activists volunteered to act as witnesses for the defence. The courtroom was packed during the 14 December hearings, and people were standing in line in the corridor, ready to cite examples from their personal experience confirming that what the defendant had said was right. Most of them were rural residents who had come to Omsk to support Kuznetsov and share their long-standing worries. They described the deplorable situation in their villages, where they had had enough jobs prior to Polezhayev’s coming into power, and a wide choice of pastime opportunities, and where farms are now in ruins, as are the truck-and-tractor repair workshops, and there are no schools, no clubs, no first-aid stations; where half-starved cows have had to be slaughtered by the thousand and where people have been drinking heavily out of total despair. Witnesses said it is the governor as the region’s top-ranking executive who is to blame for this devastation. “Driving through the Omsk Region, all one can see are fields overgrown with weeds, and half-rotten cowshed carcasses standing here and there”, whereas elsewhere in Siberia, for example in the neighbouring Tyumen Region, “farms are alive and working”, Mr Zenyuk, a witness, said.

The judge heard a total of 17 witnesses for the defence, although the number of those willing to testify was far larger.

Analysts have drawn attention to the unexpected outcome of the hearings, marking the Omsk governor’s first ever defeat in court. While not directly recognising his policy as “economic genocide”, the court pronounced it possible and permissible for people to characterise it so. Adding to this was the inordinately large amount of compensation claimed by Polezhayev, which Viktor Korb, secretary of the Omsk Civil Coalition (OCC) who represented the defendant’s interests in court, described as an attempt to deprive the pensioner of his “right to live”.

Whether or not the district court ruling is to be challenged by the plaintiff, it will not be the end of the process – rather, according to Korb, it will only mark “the first phase in a civil trial over Governor Polezhayev”. A web-aired OCC suggestion that a “public verdict” be returned as to Polezhayev’s long-time gubernatorial performance has been actively supported in the internet.

Vladivostok. Roskomnadzor warns Arsenyevskiye Vesti against state secret disclosure

By Anna Seleznyova, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Roskomnadzor, the federal service overseeing public communications, has warned the Arsenyevskiye Vesti (AV) newspaper of the “inadmissibility of violating effective Russian legislation”.

The warning says after AV published Nadezhda Alisimchik’s story entitled “State Secrets in the Internet” the Far Eastern Customs Department (FECD) lodged a complaint drawing Roskomnadzor’s attention to the fact that “the newspaper disclosed information about investigative operations, which is a state secret”.

The information cited by the author was borrowed from the crime.vl.ru website where it had hung for a long time, now vanishing, now popping up again. The author did not use any special technique to retrieve those data (which may indeed be confidential). She just copied them from a publicly available web resource. Moreover, she was not alone in doing so, since the scandal over the replacement of Gen. E. Bakhshetsyan, the Far Eastern customs service chief, and criminal prosecution of other customs officials caused broad public repercussions and gave rise to a large number of critical publications.

The author asked, “Isn’t it time for the prosecutor’s office and FSB to return to the AV publications about contraband and corruption and ask Mr Yeliseyev what he as former head of the FECD Internal Security knows about it – instead of keeping this information secret and prosecuting those who attempt to make it public? Classifying data on alleged law violations by government bodies or individual officials is against the law. By the way, weren’t those data classified after they hit the internet? Or else they may have been disclosed out of good intentions – to let the public know about existing violations that have been hushed up.”

The author then invited the law enforcers to explain whether web-posted information that has been copied by numerous website visitors can at all be considered a state secret; if this information is not true to life; and whether it contains any operative data.

Arsenyevskiye Vesti did not get answers to any of those questions; instead, it received the Roskomnadzor warning.



Some statistics cited



New independent newspaper issued in Khakassia

By Mikhail Afanasyev, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

A new independent newspaper, Karatosh, has begun to be released in Khakassia, with its 5th issue due on December 21. Karatosh is a Turkic word meaning “black stone”; this is how Khakassia’s highest mountain is called. Therefore, the newspaper’s slogan “Only the skies are higher than Karatosh”, while sounding a bit too perky, is absolutely true to life – at least in Khakassia.

The new weekly, positioning itself as an analytical public-and-political newspaper, is genuinely independent: it is published by its own staffers led by chief editor Grigory Nazarenko, a journalist with a long record of work in the media. The team includes Erik Chernyshev, a nominee for the 2009 Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, and winners of the RF Journalist Union Prize “For the Best Journalistic Work”; they hope their newspaper will find its target audience and prove to be of interest to many Khakassians.

Karatosh is distributed mostly in Sayanogorsk but will soon be available by subscription at any post office.

The reaction to the new publication was prompt: on 13 December the bureau of the republic’s Communist party (CP) committee replaced G. Nazarenko as first secretary of the Sayanogorsk city committee and dissolved the entire committee because of its support for the leader. This radical measure was said to be in response to the city committee’s “flagrant violation of the CP charter by recognising prevalence of a court decision over party decisions”. Yet it is the launch of the Karatosh newspaper that many see as the real motive behind the committee reshuffle. Erik Chernyshev, at one time editor-in-chief of the regional party newspaper Pravda Khakassii, had suffered at the hands of his “senior comrades” still earlier, when they relieved him of his editorial duties and then expelled from the party for “smearing members of the republic’s CP committee bureau”. Chernyshov challenged his dismissal and was reinstated by the Abakan city court. The CP city committee of Sayanogorsk pledged allegiance to him, which finally led to its dissolution.

Legal claim against newspaper turned down in Dobryanka

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The regional court in Perm has satisfied an appeal by Vassily Blaginykh, a businessman from the town of Dobryanka, by ordering a review of his rejected legal claim against the Kamskiye Zori (KZ) municipal newspaper which published what he perceived as “smearing” information about him.

Although the main character’s name was not mentioned in the 25 August 2011 article “Getting No Peace with the Rival Around”, published in the section “Burning Problems”, Blaginykh took the story to be about him and sued the newspaper for libel, claiming 50,000 roubles in moral damages each from KZ and its author Rimma Postnikova.

«…My competitor Mr V., the owner of a neighbouring shop, again started putting spokes in our wheels,” the story cited a woman trader as saying. “First, he smashed the supply meter to pieces, then he cut off a conductor cable… and most recently he tore our advertising placard – a large photo poster featuring beautiful juicy berries – off the wall of our shop. …The point is his former customers go to our trade outlet now and don’t visit his shop anymore because everyone knows he sells alcohol illegally… The guy comes back every day, cursing and threatening us.” Blaginykh asked the court to pronounce this passage damaging to his honour and dignity.

The Dobryanka district court on 1 November turned his claim down: Judge Kristina Vaganova did not find any evidence that the passage referred to the plaintiff, because a company named Ivushka Ltd., not Blaginykh’s outlet, occupies the premises at the address mentioned in the article, leasing trading space to a trader named V. Meanwhile, the plaintiff and defendant have never had any lease agreement concluded between them, the district court said.

The regional court, however, cancelled that decision on 12 December, stating that “the first-instance court disregarded the fact that the above phrases, in terms of their content and meaning in the context of the article, and considering the appended photo picture and address of the shop, as well as the small population of the town of Dobryanka, unambiguously point to the plaintiff as the person to whom the circulated information relates”.

Since the defendant, Ms Postnikova, was not questioned in connection with the dispute, the regional court returned the case to Dobryanka for revision.



Journalists’ Union in Sverdlovsk Region postpones reform until February

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Heated debates at the regular conference of the Sverdlovsk Region Journalists’ Union, called to review the organisation’s charter and work out a programme of action for 2012-2013, proved that the journalistic association is alive and in demand; moreover, regional journalists need instruments to defend their professional interests.

The delegates were surprised by Board Chairman Dmitry Polyanin’s proposal to liquidate the Union as a legal entity and have it re-established in some other form; they asked to explain why such a radical reform was needed. The Board was charged with making an in-depth study of the initiative and work out a new concept to be submitted for discussion at the grassroots.

Considering the chairman’s intention to resign from his position, the conference was postponed until February, for the Union management to be able to prepare a detailed performance report, as the critically-minded delegates insisted.

As regards the programme of action, primary cells suggested setting up a legal service within the regional Union to provide consulting for media outlets and individual journalists exposed to increasingly hard administrative pressure, threats and even physical attacks.


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

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, Svetlana Zemskova  – lawyer, Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy  – translator.


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

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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:
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