Дайджест8 Февраля 2012 года
Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 556
6 February 2012
Glasnost defence foundation
By Irina Gundareva, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District
The city prosecutor’s office in Chelyabinsk has sent to court the case of a 23-year-old resident of the village of Kazantsevo who attacked James Brown, a member of the Russia Today film crew which was shooting a film about the South Urals, in early July 2011.
The attacker is charged with assault and battery resulting in severe bodily harm to the victim (Article 162.4 of the Russian criminal code). As established by investigators, early one morning the accused with a friend, armed with gas pistols and a sharp-edged object – presumably a broken bottle – pulled over to a man who was walking along an empty street, and demanded his personal effects under the threat of using their weapons. Hearing “no” in reply, the assailants started beating the man, then took his cell phone, bank card, watch and money and drove away. Passers-by called an ambulance which rushed the victim to hospital with a scull trauma.
The incident occurred during the last days of the film crew’s work on a documentary entitled “Discovering Russia”. The journalists were interested in showing unique industrial production, historical monuments, talented people such as inventors, artists and musicians, as well as the region’s beautiful nature and traditions. “We weren’t interested in politics, crime or other such things,” producer Alexei Chemodanov said. “We were shooting an entertaining and educational documentary to show Western viewers that Russia is a normal country where good people live who do normal, often interesting, things.”
After the prosecutor signed the indictment, the case was submitted to the Central district court in Chelyabinsk. The accused is in for up to 15 years in prison.
The second assailant is wanted by the police.
See Digest 555
Journalist Mikhail Lobanov, the target of a violent attack reported by the GDF, was detained in Perm on 1 February by police operatives Roman Ovchinnikov and Dmitry Kirsanov on orders from Svetlana Konstantinova, senior investigator at the regional Investigative Committee, who wanted him to be forcibly brought for questioning as the victim of deliberate beating that had resulted in crippling traumas inflicted on him.
“I see the police officers’ actions as unlawful and aimed at putting physical and psychological pressure on me in the wake of an open letter to presidential candidate Vladimir Putin that I published in the Perm-based newspaper Novy Kompanyon on 17 January 2012 under the heading ‘NO to Dirty Practices and Lies’,” Lobanov said adding that he had never shirked investigation. On the contrary, following his beating on 24 June 2010, he had insisted on having the attack fully investigated. After 4 months of futile attempts to get criminal proceedings started, he had complained to the police, prosecutor’s office and judicial authorities specifically asking for a probe into the assault. And when he wrote a letter to Putin describing the law enforcers’ unlawful inaction and cited the grounds for delegating his case to the RF Investigative Committee for further handling, his arbitrary treatment by law enforcement grew still worse.
The warrant to have him brought to the police by force did not mention any fact of his unlawful behaviour. It did not even mention his name and only said someone “fails to come to the investigator for questioning without a good excuse”. The journalist is sure the pressure has been deliberately put on him to shield one of his attackers – jobless Sergei Pogor, son of Ivan Pogor, Inspector at Large at the regional Interior Department – from criminal liability.
“My written appeals to the regional prosecutor’s office and FSB, dated 19 and 25 January and 2 February, have again been left unanswered,” Lobanov said. “The case files have not even been requested from the prosecutor’s office for purposes of checking the validity of the reasons I cited. This gives the police a free hand to continue concealing a grave crime – attempted homicide – committed in respect of me.”
By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District
A January 31 conference at the headquarters of the RF President’s Personal Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, chaired by Dmitry Bezdelov, head of the Federal Agency for State Border Delineation (Rosgranitsa), was also attended by his deputy Boris Khaitovich, regional office chief Viktor Yelyutin and Sergei Sazonov, head of the Federal Borderline Construction Agency (Rosgranstroi).
Apart from the above generals, the meeting brought together high-ranking federal and regional executives, representatives of the Far Eastern Prosecutor’s Office on Transport, and members of public associations and other organisations interested in promoting the region’s cross-border co-operation with neighbouring countries. The host’s part was performed by Presidential Deputy Envoy Vladimir Pysin.
A couple of days earlier, reporters for the newspaper Khabarovsky Ekspress (KE) had duly applied – the first among the local media – for accreditation at the meeting and the follow-up news conference to be held by Gen. Bezdelov. Significantly enough, the accreditation had been granted to them by the federal agency, Rosgranitsa. They had also prepared questions about the critical situation at the Pokrovka border checkpoint requiring immediate action, specifically by conference participants. However, hours before the beginning, a phone call to the newspaper office notified them they had been crossed out from the list of accredited journalists - reportedly by local officials from the presidential envoy’s office.
This kind of “selective treatment” may be punishable under Article 144 of the criminal code (“Interference with a journalist’s lawful professional activity by someone abusing one’s official position”) and entail a fine of 100,000 to 300,000 roubles, KE deputy editor Andrei Mirmovich said.
The way the journalists look at it, the generals and high-ranking executives feared that critically-minded reporters might start asking “awkward” questions, particularly in the wake of a recent KE publication that cited ample evidence of the Pokrovka checkpoint being used by government servicemen as a source of illegal earnings on the side.
Sverdlovsk Region (Urals). Judicial novelty: editor who won in court must compensate his opponent’s judicial expenses
By Natalya Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District
Margarita Konovalova, chief editor of the newspaper Kachkanarka based in the region of Sverdlovsk, has informed the GDF about a curious incident that occurred during otherwise ordinary judicial hearings of a legal claim in defence of honour and dignity, lodged against her by one of the readers. After a first-instance court partially satisfied the claim, awarding the plaintiff 1,500 roubles in moral damages while charging his judicial expenses – 1,439 roubles – to the defendant, the latter challenged the decision before the higher-standing regional court which cancelled it, turning down the claim in full.
“Although each of the facts cited in my article was confirmed as accurate and the plaintiff’s claim of moral damage compensation was rejected,” Konovalova said, “a few days ago I was notified of a diligence process started for purposes of having me pay the 1,439-rouble amount in compensation for his judicial expenses.” She also asked whether the enforcement order issuance was lawful; if she had to obey; what to do next; and, most important, why she as the winner in court should compensate the loser’s costs.
GDF lawyer Svetlana Zemskova called this an obvious judicial mistake, because a claim turned down in full entails no payment of judicial expenses. “At the same time, you’d better pay the requested amount to avoid the levying of a fine,” she told Konovalova, “and then be sure to challenge the enforcement order to return your money.”
Republic of Khakassia. Sayanogorsk electoral committee head attempts, fails to lodge legal claims against two reporters
By Mikhail Afanasyev, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District
G. Syomkin, chairman of the electoral committee in Sayanogorsk, Khakassia, has asked the city police to take steps to “stop unlawful campaigning” and “confiscate the agitation leaflets illegally issued” by Grigory Nazarenko and Erik Chernyshev, journalists from the republican newspaper Karatosh, who are running for seats on the city council.
On 24 January, the electoral committee identified those campaigning materials as “unlawful”, which became known to the two journalists only on 27 January at the city police department where they were summoned for questioning. They had not been invited to attend the committee meeting, which was against the law.
Without bothering to read the leaflets, printed in full accordance with effective legislation, paid for from the official electoral fund and presented to the electoral committee prior to distribution, as required, the committee failed to issue an official decision qualifying the leaflets as illegal or spurious; it hastened instead to report to the police asking their confiscation – only on the grounds that it seemed to Chairman Syomkin that a leaflet enclosed in a newspaper was part of that newspaper which therefore should be regarded as an illegal instrument of campaigning. The committee ordered “seizure of the entire print run and bringing those responsible to justice”.
“One may wrap a volume of ‘War and Peace’ into a newspaper, but this won’t turn Lev Tolstoy into a Karatosh reporter, anyway,” Roskomnadzor [federal agency overseeing the sphere of public communications] commented in response to the electoral committee’s complaint, and ordered that the leaflet confiscation be cancelled. This was facilitated by Khakassian MP O. Ivanov’s filing a well-timed inquiry with the republican-level electoral committee about the lawfulness of Sayanogorsk committee actions. Viewed from the right legal angle, the problem was promptly solved, and Syomkin’s legal claims against the two journalists were turned down the same day.
Nazarenko and Chernyshev themselves link their biased treatment by the city committee with their highlighting the fact of ballot-box cramming by United Russia representatives during the previous elections, and violation by the committee of electoral legislation already during the ongoing campaign in the form of confirming the list of nominees submitted by one of the city’s voter associations despite the wrong order in which the names were listed.
Undoing injustice in a remote Siberian city took two unreleased issues of Karatosh, and lots of time that the two journalists were caused to waste.
By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District
The Rostov Region’s electoral committee on 2 February reviewed suspected violations of the rules of campaigning by the newspaper Donskaya Iskra, with a protocol of administrative offence made in the name of its chief editor Yevgeny Sukhorukov, who was required to pay a fine.
Officially, the committee met in response to “voter complaints” about Donskaya Iskra handed out during a Communist rally in Rostov’s Teatralnaya Square, featuring unlawful calls to vote for one of the presidential candidates.
A committee working group in charge of information support for the elections found that the newspaper did contain calls to vote for Gennady Zyuganov before the official start of campaigning in the media. Besides, Donskaya Iskra had not applied for participation in the campaigning, and the agitation materials had not been paid for from Zyuganov’s electoral fund.
Editor Sukhorukov was already held liable for a similar violation committed during the latest State Duma elections.
The newspaper provided coverage of party performance, Yevgeny Bessonov, Communist faction leader in the regional Legislative Assembly, told journalists. “It’s a political party’s newspaper covering activities of the party leader,” he said, adding that this is exactly what Donskaya Iskra is supposed to do in line with the party charter.
Significantly enough, articles written by another presidential candidate, Vladimir Putin, were published in federal media also before the race officially started – and also without a note that they had been paid for from the candidate’s electoral fund. However, the Central Electoral Committee has not discussed this violation thus far.
By Anatoly Tsygankov, GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District
Coming to the office early on 30 January, Aleksandra Mollayeva, the Segezha-based TV-Kontakt private television company’s deputy director in charge of news broadcasting, was shocked to find her desktop PC missing. As it turned out, company director Vladimir Popov had ordered her computer’s removal because of sending her on vacation. He personally told the lady journalist about this, showed the relevant order and asked her to sign it. Mollayeva refused outright, saying no one had informed her about the leave, and no vacation schedule had ever been seen in the office, so she was staying to work. If she is unwilling to sign the order, he is firing her, the director said.
She requested a copy of the dismissal order, and it was soon handed to her, saying that her replacement follows “repeated breaches of the work discipline, work schedule, and her rudeness toward the company management”. But not a single fact was mentioned to prove Mollayeva’s irresponsible attitude to work ever since her coming to the company in September 2010. It seemed TV-Kontakt’s director and owner V. Popov did not care at all about labour code provisions.
The conflict came into a deadlock, causing Mollayeva to complain to the district prosecutor’s office on 31 January, describing the organisation of office work in the company and asking to protect her labour rights.
The GDF will follow the developments in Segezha closely.
The Adil Soz International Freedom of Expression Foundation on 31 January published statistics regarding media and journalist rights violations in Kazakhstan in 2011.
Imprisoned journalists – 1 (Ramazan Yesergepov, Alma-Ata Info, Almaty)
Attacks on media offices and journalists – 14 (Savva Dautov, Vecherny Taldykorgan newspaper, Almaty Region; Yuliya Minina, The Aktobe Times, Aktobe; Daniyar Moldashev, ADP Lts., Almaty; Nikolai Solovyov, Nasha Gazeta newspaper, Kostanai; Anar Bazmukhametova, Interfax Kazakhstan news agency, Akmolinsk Region; Dmitry Rura, Municipal TV/Radio Company, Petropavlovsk; Alexander Baranov, Gorodskaya Nedelya, Golos Respubliki newspapers, Pavlodar; Talgat Umirbekov, Stan, Almaty; Orken Bisenov, Tan TV, Almaty; Asan Amilov, Stan? Almaty; Aibanu Anarbayeva, Alfarabi Gesentsov, Almaty TV Company, Almaty; Roman Raifeld, journalist, Almaty).
Detention by police – 14 (Sergei Zalepukhin, Golost Respubliki newspaper, Almaty; Igor Petrov, Stan.kz, Almaty; Andrei Sivko, Alga, Taraz; Nurken Zhalmukhambetov, Astana TV Company, Aktobe Region; Timur Yermashev, Basurzhan Idrisov, Stan.kz, Zhanaozen, Mangistau Region; Saniya Toiken, Ak Zhaiyk, Atyrau; Georgy Epstein, Sotsialist, Moscow; Ilya Azar, Lenta.ru, Russia; Vassily Shaposhnikov, Vladimir Solovyov, Kommersant; Zhanar Kasymbekova, Golos Respubliki newspaper, Zhanaozen, Mangistau Region; Murat Tungishbayev, blogger, Zhanaozen, Mangistau Region; Viktor Vologodsky, Moi Gorod, Ust-Kamenogorsk).
Threats against journalists – 15 (31 Kanal TV Company, Almaty; Nurzhan Baimuldin, Ekspress K, Akmolinsk Region; Georgy Semyonov, Nadezhda, Uralsk; Natalya Silvanovich, Temirtausky Rabochiy, Karaganda Region; Berik Zhagiparov, Molodyozhnaya Gazeta, Zhezkazgan, Karaganda Region; Alla Zlobina, Golos Respubliki, Uralsk, West Kazakhstani Region; Marina Rybalko, Kurs, Kokshetau, Akmolinsk Region; Natalya Silvanovich, Tatyana Bardina, Temirtausky Rabochiy, Temirtau; Oleg Gubaidulling, Karavan, Almaty; Gennady Benditsky, Vremya, Almaty; Sherniyaz Shagatai, Azamat Yesbergen, Stan.kz, Almaty; Aksaule Baimenshina, Vladimir Fedotov, Samat Kalekenov, Kazakhstan-Aktove TV Company, Aktobe; Murat Sultangaliyev, Ak Zhaiyk, Atyrau; 31 Kanal TV Company, Aktobe; Gulbadam Nazbenova, 31 Kanal TV Company, Atyrau Region).
Blocking or restricting access to websites – more than 200 instances (Kazakhstan Today site; Radio Azattyk site; Hidemyass.com и Ninjacloak.com, anonymisers; Twitter account of Young Professionals Community public association; Google service domain; www.zonakz.net, Minber web newspaper; websites in .KZ domain zone; Google Cache and Google docs applications; Respublika newspaper’s website; www.guljan.org, www.livejournal.com, www.liveinternet.ru, www.forbes.ru, WordPress.com web platform, gcup.ru, http://vse.kz, http://ct.kz, www.video.gamesfather.com; www.go.mail.ru; www.islamunveiled.livejournal.com; www.newsland.ru; www.djamalat.com; www.forum.voinenet.ru; www.ummanews.com; www.ik-media.inf; www.videolica.com; www.as-ansar.com; www.smotri.com; www.liveinternet.ru; www.extraklipovi.com; www.biggdi.com; www.djamal.wordpress.com; www.caucase.wordpress.com; nuruddin-info.blogspot.com; www.din-islam.ru, http://krasnoetv.kz; Novosti Kazakhstan news agency’s website; Golos Respubliki forum partner).
Criminal charges against journalists and media – 26, including libel charges – 18 (Yelena Kulakova, Temirtausky Rabochiy, Temirtau; Lydia Frolova, Vechernyaya Gazeta, Temirtau; Stas Kiselyov, Vremya, Kostanai Region; Zulfiya Nabiyeva, Kostanai-Agro, Kostanai; Sergei Kharitonenko, Kurs, Kokshetau, Akmolinsk Region; Alyona Pankova, journalist, Karaganda; Farkhat Kinzhitayev, Vzglyad na Sobytiya, Karaganda; Olga Klimonova, journalist and director, Aktobe office of International Human Rights and Law Observance Bureau, Aktobe; Alexander Synkov, blogger, North Kazakhstani Region; Valery Surganov, www.guljan.org, Karaganda; STV television company, Almaty; Vzglyad newspaper, Almaty; Alima Abdirova, Aru Ana NGO, Aktobe; Igor Fizer, blogger, Karaganda; www.guljan.org website; Oksana Matasova, Akmolinskiye Vesti, Kokshetau; Kuanybek Botabekov, Adilet, Shymkent; Barlyk Almagambetov, Yuridicheskaya Gazeta, Temirtau, Karaganda Region).
Interference with lawful professional journalistic activity – 49
Media suspension or closure – 1 (Stan, Almaty)
Tax evasion charges against media – 4 (Vzglyad, Golos Respubliki, Azat and Alga newspapers, Almaty)
Civil law charges against journalists and media – 90, including 77 legal claims in defence of honour and dignity, filed by administration officials – 29, legal entities – 18, and individuals - 30.
Refusals to provide information, or restrictions on access to publicly significant information – 325.
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Attacks on journalists – 3 (Dododzhon Atovulloyev, publisher and chief editor, Tajik newspaper Charogi Ruz, attacked in Moscow; Yevgeny Feldman, Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Moscow; REN TV film crew, Moscow).
Attacks on media offices and TV centres – 1 (Vecherny Krasnokamsk newspaper, Perm Region).
Instances of censorship – 3 (media in Moscow Region; NTVshniki TV show, Moscow; Slavnoye More newspaper, Irkutsk Region).
Criminal charges against journalists and media – 5 (Alexander Tolmachev, chief editor, newspaper Upolnomochen Zayavit, Rostov-on-Don; Andrei Yermolenko, freelance journalist, Chelyabinsk; Vladimir Yefimov, chief editor, Vechernyaya Tyumen newspaper, Tyumen; Mikhail Konyukhov, chief editor, Lyuberetskaya Pravda newspaper, Moscow Region; Natalya Filonova, chief editor, Vsemu Naperekor newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region).
Illegal sacking of editor/journalist – 2 (Vladimir Poltoradyadko, chief editor, Slavnoye More newspaper, Irkutsk Region; Aleksandra Mollayeva, deputy director, TV-Kontakt, Republic of Karelia).
Detention by police, FSB, etc. – 4 (Alexander Pushkash, journalist, Rosbalt news agency, St. Petersburg; Pierre Avril, correspondent, Le Figaro newspaper, detained in Jewish Autonomous Region; Yevgeniya Litvinova, correspondent, Kogita.ru portal, St. Petersburg; Natalya Filonova, chief editor, Vsemu Naperekor newspaper, Trans-Baikal Region).
Refusals to provide information (including bans on use of audio recorders and video/photo cameras; refusals to provide accreditation; restrictions on admittance to official events held by government bodies, industrial enterprises or state institutions) – 17
Threats against journalists and media – 2 (Tatyana Popova, acting editor-in-chief, Vedomosti-Ural newspaper, Yekaterinburg; Sergei Avdeyev, reporter, Vedomosti-Ural newspaper, Yekaterinburg).
Ejection of a newspaper, etc. from its premises – 1 (Moi Gorod-Kostroma newspaper, Kostroma).
Refusals to print (or distribute) media – 1 (Nerm Yun newspaper, Nenets Autonomous Region).
Closure of media – 3 (Sankt-Peterburgsky Kuryer newspaper, St. Petersburg; Moi Gorod-Kostroma newspaper, Kostroma; Abazinsky Vestnik newspaper, Khakassia).
Withdrawal (purchase, seizure) of print run – 2 (Lyudi iz Stali newspaper, Chelyabinsk Region; Nerm Yun newspaper, Nenets Autonomous Region).
Interference with Internet publications – 11 (APN-Severo-Zapad news agency website - twice; Roskosmos website; LiveJournal - twice; Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper’s website; Ingushetiyaru.org; APN news agency’s federal website; Stringer news agency’s website; Ekho Moskvy radio station’s website; website of Committee Against Torture).
Release of duplicate (i.e., rival) newspapers – 1 (Argumenty i Fakty-Ural newspaper, Yekaterinburg).
Confiscation of or damage to photo, video or audio apparatus and computers – 2 (video camera of REN TV film crew, Moscow; Dictaphone of Alexander Laziyevsky, Gorodskaya Gazeta reporter, Perm Region).
Administrative pressure (unplanned inspections by sanitary, fire or tax inspectors) - 7 (media in Tambov Region; Privolzhsky Vestnik newspaper, Samara; Moi Gorod-Kostroma newspaper, Kostroma - twice; Zeisky Vestnik newspaper, Amur Region; Maria Pliyeva, freelance journalist, Republic of North Ossetia; Sovetsky Sakhalin newspaper, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk).
Other forms of pressure or infringement of journalist rights – 28.
Last week, the Glasnost Defence Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, including at:
By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District
During his longest and most representative news conference in the past two years, Omsk Region Governor Leonid Polezhayev spoke disdainfully not only of municipal journalists but of all Omsk residents too, including the pool of his “loyal” media reporters.
A press release of the Chief Administration for the Press and TV/Radio Broadcasting said the news conference brought together “representatives of virtually all the regional media”. The word “virtually” disguised the absence of reporters from the most popular print and online media, such as Domashnyaya Gazeta (with a circulation of 75,000), Vecherny Omsk (15,500), the SuperOmsk and Omskpress online news agencies (each recording 6,500 visits per day), and Krasny Put (circulation 14,000), of course.
The latter, Communist, newspaper has never actually been invited to cover this kind of events; the rest fell into disfavour in connection with the “information war” waged by the regional administration with municipal power; this war has grown in scale and become ever more relentless since ex-Mayor Viktor Schreider’s moving to Moscow after getting a State Duma deputy’s chair. The regional head today is dissatisfied not only by mayoral officers’ and Legislative Assembly members’ performance but also by the entire million-odd population of Omsk, because “you’ve always elected the wrong mayors” during his 20 years at the region’s helm, he said when asked by Kommercheskiye Vesti chief editor Mart Isangazin, “Why has the election of each new mayor inevitably led to confrontation between him and the regional leader?”
“Omsk residents should be more careful about selecting candidates,” Polezhayev said, although all of the city mayors eventually coming to grips with the governor were nominated by the governor himself. “They shouldn’t trust promises or play populism. If they show irresponsibility and not stay true to their principles, nothing good will ever come out of it.”
Evidently, the governor thinks city dwellers are as bad as the media covering their life. City journalists, as opposed to regional and district reporters, “are wolves; they are always distorting reality,” he said.
After noting that “Omsk residents are wrong listing themselves among city dwellers – many have moved (to the city) from rural areas”, the governor called on them to “go back to roots”, since village life is “culturally richer and more distinctive”.
“Which do you think is better – to have a farmstead of your own or to hang about the city?” he asked rhetorically. No one recalled during the news conference that shortly before its opening, one of such “farmsteads” (a house in the village of Pobeda, Maryanovsky District) had been burned down together with a family with three children. According to the Emergency Situations Ministry, on average ten houses a day have caught fire in the Omsk Region this winter, and a total of 39 people, including six children, have died in fires since this year began.
Contrasting village life to life in a big city, Polezhayev observed, “Being a fly’s head is better than an elephant’s ass”. Considering his status as a commonly recognised big politician, this sounded rude enough not only to the city public but also to the regional Press Department officials sitting in the first row. If you come to think of it, being a “wolf” does seem better.
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.
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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