18 Января 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 553

16 January 2012



Attempt on journalist’s life in Moscow

In downtown Moscow late on 12 January, prominent Tajik journalist Dododzhon Atovulloyev was stabbed by an unknown attacker who fled the scene of the crime.

Atovulloyev was found in a very serious condition near the apartment block at 15, Komsomolsky Prospekt, rushed to the Sklifosovsky clinic, urgently operated on, and placed in a resuscitation ward. He has already come to his senses and there is no immediate threat to his life anymore.

The Khamovniki district investigative unit has started proceedings under Article 111 of the RF Criminal Code (“Deliberate infliction of grave bodily damage”) and is investigating the circumstances. One of the versions being checked is that the journalist may have been wounded in a domestic conflict; another is that he may have been attacked by a hired killer.

As established by the investigators, someone called Atovulloyev on the phone and appointed a meeting hear his home in Komsomolsky Prospect. The meeting ended in the journalist left badly wounded and bleeding. On the next day, the police detained a suspect – a citizen of Tajikistan looking much like the person whom eyewitnesses had seen attacking Atovulloyev. The man had blood on his hands but claimed it was his own blood. An expert study was ordered, but the suspect was released later that day, after security camera recordings proved his non-involvement.

Since 1991, D. Atovulloyev has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Charogi Ruz; in 1992 he was compelled to emigrate to Russia. After receiving information about an attempt on his life being prepared, he moved to Germany, where he was offered political asylum. He has visited Russia frequently, and co-operated with the Glasnost Defence Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, Novaya Gazeta, Radio Liberty and Amnesty International. He has led the Vatandor (Patriot) opposition movement since 2007 and is known as an active critic of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon. With several criminal cases opened against him in his home country, Tajikistan has filed more than 20 official requests for Atovulloyev’s arrest in Russia.

GDF President Alexei Simonov, who has known Dododzhon for more than 20 years, cannot think who or why attacked Atovulloyev. “The assault may have been organised by anyone,” he said. “It may have been a political meeting, a meeting of journalists, or just a meeting with an acquaintance; no one knows this so far, except Dododzhon himself who, though, may not know this for sure, either.”

Simonov managed to contact Atovulloyev on the phone late on 13 December. The journalist said they had had his “liver sutured up”, and that he was feeling stable and would soon be transferred from intensive care to an ordinary therapy ward. He added he was glad the attack had resulted in “nothing more serious” than his bad wound.



Khabarovsk Region. Another press distributor run down by car

By Tatyana Sedykh, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

N. Perepechai, a distributor of the newspaper Moyo Poberezhye (MP), was run down by a car in the township of Vanino on 12 January, when she was due to carry newspaper stacks around the neighbourhood. The car hit her on her way to the office, as she had already passed a pedestrian crossing and stepped onto the pavement. She was taken to hospital with a scull trauma and a broken collar bone. The police are investigating the circumstances. Newspaper delivery has had to be suspended.

This is not the first MP staffer to be run over by a vehicle. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief narrowly escaped a deliberate run-down in 2007. The police first ignored her report completely, and then, after her repeated complaints to the district police and prosecutor’s office, the case was formally registered as an administrative offence by a concocted driver (a man whom the editor had never met and whose car she had never seen) and eventually closed, with all the circumstances of the incident distorted. The police investigator who handled the case was promoted to division head shortly afterwards, and three replies from the prosecutor’s office fully replicated those from the district police department.

Khabarovsk. Web newspaper editor’s notice to Roskomnadzor

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Below is the text of a notice sent by Konstantin Pronyakin, the founder and chief editor of the web newspaper Debri-DV, to S. Sitnikov, head of the Federal Service for Oversight of IT and Public Communications, with a copy to V. Bogdanov, Chairman of the RF Journalists’ Union:

“This is to inform you that in protest against demonstrative disregard by Khabarovsk media-oversight officials for the Debri-DV web periodical, and their repeated refusals during the past six months to have our reporters accredited with the apparatus of the Russian Federation President’s Personal Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, our media outlet will suspend its operation on Russian Press Day for 24 hours – from 9 p.m. (local time) on 13 December until 9 p.m. on 14 December.”

Rostov-on-Don. New criminal charges brought against editor

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

As announced by the press service of the Rostov Region police department, another criminal case has been opened against Alexander Tolmachev, editor of the independent newspaper Upolnomochen Zayavit (UZ). The criminal proceedings against him were started this time in the wake of a complaint filed by a woman claiming that Tolmachev had put pressure on her to sell her apartment and give him the proceeds – 2 million roubles.

Police department spokesman Alexei Polyansky broke the news to Tolmachev’s colleagues at a round table in the UZ office, dedicated to the editor’s arrest. An official press release made public later said that Polyansky had attended the round table specially to explain to the journalists that none of the criminal proceedings initiated against Tolmachev were “pre-ordered or politically underpinned”. The police press service advised everybody not to draw any specific conclusions until the investigation was over.

“On the following day… Tolmachev’s lawyers went to Novocherkassk in search of details, but investigators at the city police department did not present any official documents to them,” UZ acting editor Valentina Prosvetova told the GDF correspondent. “No official indictment has been brought in against Tolmachev in the second case, either. The first criminal case was opened against a group of persons including Gologan, Morozova and Tolmachev, but only Tolmachev was taken into custody. Meanwhile, the car they allegedly extorted from the victim, Mr. Kozlov, was registered in the name of Morozova, not Tolmachev; it was she who was the beneficiary under that car sale deal. As regards Tolmachev, he defended Gologan and Morozova’s interests in court during hearings of a case involving Kozlov’s repayment of a debt to the company in which he worked together with Gologan and Morozova. Before the last hearing, at which a final decision was to be passed, he proposed an amicable settlement to the plaintiffs by agreeing to partly repay his debt by re-registering his son’s car in Morozova’s name, which he did on 15 December 2011.”

“Kozlov had offered Tolmachev 300,000 roubles for declining to represent Gologan and Morozova’s interests in court, but Tolmachev told him to get out,” Prosvetova said. “Evidently, they had planned to arrest Tolmachev as the money would be changing hands – but the editor refused to take that money. Nevertheless, he was arrested.”

The Glasnost Defence Foundation will follow the developments in Rostov closely.

Yekaterinburg. Editor threatened with murder

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Police Precinct No.15 in Yekaterinburg has launched criminal proceedings on charges of murder threats to Tatyana Popova, acting editor-in-chief of the newspaper Vedomosti-Ural. The threats came shortly after the arrest of persons suspected of beating the same newspaper’s photo correspondent, Sergei Avdeyev.

As we have reported, Avdeyev was beaten up and robbed by a group of North Caucasians on 22 October while fulfilling an editorial assignment – taking pictures of several barbeque shops illegally operating in the Leninsky district of Yekaterinburg. His beating near the eating joint at 2, Aviatsionnaya St. involved the shop owner, Azad Dzhavadov, and his nine accomplices.

After Precinct No.5 started legal proceedings on robbery charges under Article 161 of the RF Criminal Code, police officers did not detain anyone on the spot for some unclear reason, although none of the attackers attempted to escape when the police patrol arrived. Moreover, the police did not even identify the assailants or question any eyewitnesses. It was not until the incident became widely known and raised a wave of public anger that the case was reassigned for handling from Precinct No.5 to the higher-standing investigating unit of the Yekaterinburg police department. On the 5th day after the attack, two suspects – Azad Dzhavadov and his son Mubariz Dzhavadzade, 18 – were detained by the police (see Digest 543), and the Leninsky district court on 28 October served a warrant on their arrest.

Toward the same day’s evening, Popova received a threatening phone call from an unknown man who urged her to take back her report from the police and never write about Dzhavadov again in the future. “I won’t repeat twice – you’ll get killed together with that photographer brat!” he told her.

As established during confrontations between suspects and the victim, the father and son Dzhavadov had beaten the journalist together. However, investigator Konstantin Adushkin decided to release the junior, disregarding information about murder threats to the editor and the victim, as well as an attempt to give the latter a bribe of 500,000 roubles – already in hospital – for his giving the “right” kind of testimony. As a result, after three weeks in hospital, the photo reporter has been compelled to continue taking outpatient treatment while staying on the sick list. The senior Dzhavadov is in custody in Remand Centre No.1 in Yekaterinburg on assault and battery charges. A whole two months after the phone threats to the editor, and owing only to the prosecutor office’s interference, did the police finally start criminal proceedings in that connection.

Meanwhile, a sentence passed in the case of another member of the Dzhavadov clan – Ibad, 27, administrator at the same barbeque shop – signalled that this family is used to breaking the law with impunity and able to efficiently “work” with law enforcement. As is known, on 10 December 2010 Ibad Dzhavadov fired gunshots at a youth who had allegedly refused to pay for a broken radiator. The young man got bullet wounds in the back, and a few friends who attempted to stand up for him were beaten up. After a year of investigation and court hearings, the Leninsky district court (Precinct No.9) finally acquitted him of insult (Article 130 of the RF Criminal Code) but convicted him of beating (Article 116), sentencing him to a total of 10,000 roubles payable in compensation to the victims.

Omsk (Siberia). Governor says media “must criticise” authorities

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Governor Leonid Polezhayev’s meeting on Russian Press Day with young journalists in Omsk has been the talk of the month among regional public activists and netizens since the New Year. “Authorities should be subject to criticism, including in the media, without which no state order or political system can exist,” the regional head said addressing the meeting. “But there should be some limit, determined by the degree of a journalist’s inner culture, of which each (journalist) should always be aware – otherwise, he wouldn’t feel a really free person.”

Government officials seldom point to the need for public criticism of their performance. It was particularly surprising to hear this from the lips of the Omsk governor, who had never until then brought up the subject during the 20-odd years of his stay at the helm in the region. Since not a single blogger could remember him ever saying anything like that, most netizens did not trust the governor’s words. Many concluded that “authorities” referred only to the Omsk mayor’s office which is criticised by the regional media every day. But now that ex-Mayor Viktor Schreider has been elected to the RF State Duma, this criticism no longer seems as important as it used to be.

But if the governor meant to say that he, too, may be subject to public criticism, then his statement can indeed be called sensational. Until recently, he did everything to stifle any criticism: as the GDF has reported, last year alone Polezhayev lodged 4 legal claims against his critics, including the newspaper Vash Oreol, Biznes-Kurs magazine, and human rights activist Valentin Kuznetsov, each time claiming half a million roubles in moral damages. Evidently, this is the value of “inner culture” that the governor thinks each of the defendants lacks – in contrast to journalists from the regional administration’s pool (against whom no legal claim has ever been filed) or, say, Andrei Karaulov, author of the TV series “The (Wolf) Pack” about the Omsk mayor and his deputies, which was shown on the gubernatorial TV channel.

Generally speaking, if Leonid Polezhayev wants the press to criticise power, his desire is easy to translate into reality: in his recent address to the Federal Assembly, President Medvedev recommended that the heads of regional administrations should “get rid of the newspapers” and other media financed from the regional budgets. In the region of Omsk, there are over 40 such media outlets. Given full freedom to operate, they would be sure to dump a whole sea of criticism on the ruling elite. The regional administration, for its part, would save about 400 million roubles that might be directed into a variety of useful social projects – a move that the authorities would be heartily praised for by the public.



Some statistics cited

Last week, the Glasnost Defence Foundation was referred to at least 15 times in the internet, including at:



Statement by Saratov Region branch of Russian Journalists’ Union

The Saratov administration’s actions in respect of OAO Rospechat, the largest distributor of newspapers and magazines, have caused broad public concerns. The unilateral termination of land lease agreements and the ongoing campaign to tear down press kiosks will not only result in financial losses for the company, potential joblessness for its 200 staffers and reduced tax inflows into the city budget; we as partners are concerned the most about the negative social consequences of the city administration’s actions. By curtailing press sales in the street, the authorities infringe the rights of citizens who are thus deprived of the right to buy newspapers and magazines within a few hundred steps from their homes. We are inclined to share the widespread assumption that on the eve of presidential elections, we are witnessing tough “purges” of the media sector; a crackdown on freedom of expression; and exertion of pressure on the independent media and journalists. It is the everyday developments we watch that give us reasons to think so.

We support the position of the chief editors of a number of Saratov-based media, who have demanded an end to administrative arbitrariness under the disguise of efforts to improve the urban landscape. The arguments cited by the mayor of Saratov sound unconvincing, and the entire “anti-kiosk campaign” undermines the public image not only of this particular self-government body but of power as a whole.

In acknowledging our responsibility to society, we hereby voice our opposition to rude attempts to place barriers in the way of press distribution. Since we also feel responsible for the actual and potential consequences of our publications, we see it as our professional duty to urge the authorities to respond adequately by starting to rectify their blunders and miscalculations. Continuing to shirk honest dialogue is inadmissible.

Over 6,000 residents of Saratov have spoken out against the tear-down of newspaper stalls, among them Saratov Region Governor P. L. Ipatov and Regional Glasnost and Freedom of Expression Defence Foundation Co-chairmen A. D. Nikitin and A. G. Sveshnikov. The RF Public Chamber, represented by P. N. Gusev, Chairman of the Commission on Communications, Information Policy and Freedom of Expression, has assessed the Saratov administration’s behaviour as an encroachment on people’s constitutional right to free access to information; he awaits correction of the erroneous policy measures taken by overzealous government officials.

We all are waiting for an adequate, intelligible and reasonable reaction from the Saratov administration – instead of its empty talk and full disregard for public opinion.



From TV journalists in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia

Dear colleagues:

On 15 December, security guards in the Fan Park “Bobrovy Log” (Beavers’ Ravine) barred the film crew of the Versiya TV show, released on Channel 12 and TVC-Krasnoyarsk, from attending an assize sitting of the City Council (the film crew of the STS-Prima Channel was not admitted, either), and the Businessman of the Year contest sponsored by the city administration.

The guards cited some internal rules of journalist accreditation allegedly leaving it to their own discretion whom to let through into the park; they did not present any official document showing that such rules are in effect.

We are convinced our non-admission is directly linked with critical reports we have shown in our programme. We repeatedly drew public attention to the fact that the Fan Park owner, Rezonans Co. founded by Norilsky Nickel Corporation, has rented a land preserve sector of 400ha in area for just 32,000 roubles (approx. US $1,000) per month ever since the City Council passed a decision offering this particular company a special rent rate reduction. The said decision was recently challenged by the prosecutor’s office, and it was this issue that the deputies were to discuss at their assize sitting in the park.

We think it necessary to inform you of this instance of flagrant violation of journalists’ rights and ask you to assess it in legal terms.

Sincerely, Versiya TV show team, Krasnoyarsk


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:
Полезная деятельность Фонда защиты гласности за 25 лет его жизни