15 Февраля 2012 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 557

13 February 2012



Who cyber-attacked Kommersant’s website?

Last week Demyan Kudryavtsev, general director of Kommersant Publishers’, made public a statement saying the organisers of a recent cyber-attack on Kommersant Daily’s website have been identified as belonging to the Nashi movement [“The Guys on Our Side”, positioning itself as a youth wing of the ruling United Russia party – Translator.]. He stated this with reference to e-mail exchanges – hacked by computer specialists from the group “Anonymous” – between Vassily Yakemenko, head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, and Nashi press secretary Kristina Potupchik.

Actually, Kudryavtsev’s statement was not sensational inasmuch as many had suspected the Nashists [pun built on the fascists pattern – Translator.] were behind the cyber-attack – especially after a January 2008 Kommersant publication hinting that the ruling party might deprive the youth movement of its further support. Some of the hacked e-mail messages were particularly about anti-Kommersant actions, including pickets outside the publishing house and a cyber-attack aimed to “create unbearable conditions”, “block their operation”, and “finish them psychologically and physically”. Those messages “clearly showed they did realize the unlawfulness of their actions; they simply were sure they’d get away with impunity,” Kudryavtsev pointed out.

Kommersant has estimated the damage caused by the cyber-attacks at several million roubles and is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. It has officially urged the Moscow police department to start criminal proceedings, and asked the Investigative Committee to check the Nashi spokeswoman’s alleged complicity in these criminal acts.

After a pause, youth activists moved to distance themselves from the dirty action. “We hereby state that none of the Nashi movement’s leaders, including Kristina Potupchik, had anything to do with cyber-attacks or other potential causes of the Kommersant website’s suspension,” a Nashi press release said. Moreover, they threatened to sue Kudryavtsev unless he stops “censuring and accusing” their movement.

One should acknowledge, though, that evidence of Nashi’s unlawful activity was gathered through equally unlawful hacking of e-mail correspondence. But hackers from “Anonymous” believe “anything goes” when it comes to unmasking impudent cyber-attackers and social network spammers. “That’s a good and noble thing to do,” their representative told Gazeta.ru.

So who was it who cyber-attacked Kommersant’s website? This is a question to be answered by the police. There are quite a few reasons to doubt that our law enforcers – unlike our hackers – will ever be able to identify the wrongdoers.

Or maybe they will, after all? President Medvedev himself once made an angry speech calling cyber-attacks “unlawful” and “outrageous”. Let’s wait and see, to begin with, how law enforcement will react to Kommersant’s demand for the institution of criminal proceedings.



Kostroma. Journalist threatened

By Natalya Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Rinat Musin, a reporter for the newspaper Moi Gorod-Kostroma (MGK), was threatened on 11 February by unknown plain-clothed men who, upon showing what looked like IDs usually carried by FSB officers, told him they knew he had been working on a story that they would “strongly recommend” he’d refrain from publishing, and “quit co-operating with that newspaper”, MGK general director Albert Stepantsev told the GDF correspondent.

“The men also said they’d been closely watching the journalists, editors and founders of the newspaper which they said was ‘financed from abroad’, and that a certain ‘special operation’ was underway that might be disrupted by the would-be publication,” Stepantsev said.

Asked by the journalist to present their credentials, the strangers started threatening him with “potential problems” and the possibility of his wife’s car getting torched.

The article Musin was working on described a high-resonance criminal case being heard in one of the city courts – one suggesting that the regional police command may have covered illegal gambling business.

The incident has been reported to the regional FSB department. It looked like the unknown men were using forged security service IDs particularly for the purpose of intimidating Musin, Stepantsev said adding that the release of the regular MGK issue had had to be postponed.

Perm Region. Attempt to replace editor through newspaper’s liquidation

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Journalists from the 80-year-old municipal newspaper Kamskiye Zori (KZ) have come out against their newspaper’s liquidation, started by the Dobryanka district authorities soon after the end of December’s parliamentary elections.

In their open letter to 5,300 subscribers and retail buyers, featured in KZ No. 10991, the staffers cited district administration head Konstantin Lyzov’s decree of 20 January ordering the newspaper’s liquidation, and the dismissal notice received by its chief editor and director Natalya Irzhanova. Similar notices were sent to all the other KZ staff members after a conference at the district administration headquarters.

A liquidation committee was established, and the newspaper’s settlements account was frozen. “This renders impossible any attempt by the management to pay the staffers’ wages, or taxes, or printing service bills,” the letter said. “And this is only the top of the iceberg. The newspaper’s release may be disrupted or terminated altogether. We would very much like to prevent this, but the authorities’ behaviour shows they are willing to close our newspaper without establishing anything in its stead.”

The 17-member KZ team are determined to defend their rights. On 1 February, they filed a report with the regional prosecutor’s office; on 2 February they held a meeting with readers in the city library in Dobryanka; and on 6 February their representatives met in Perm with the visiting GDF President Alexei Simonov, who is a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, to hand him an appeal for help.

In their view, the KZ liquidation initiative voiced by K. Lyzov in the District Assembly on 16 December and coordinated with the local deputies on 21 December is at odds with effective legislation. In line with the district charter, a municipal newspaper’s operation may be suspended or terminated only in the event of a long-time shrinkage of its circulation to less than 1 per cent of the district population, or the absence of funds to finance the publishing process. But today, the number of KZ subscribers and readers exceeds 6 percent of the population of Dobryanka, and the newspaper has been financially self-sufficient and not received any financial or material support from the administration. Up until now, it has paid salaries to its staffers, as well as its taxes and duties, regularly.

The true reason behind the pressure campaign, staffers believe, is local administrators’ desire to get rid of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief who has fallen into disfavour, KZ senior correspondent Lydia Rakitina and manager Diana Kashina said. Attempts to replace Natalya Irzhanova were made earlier too, in violation of Article 261 of the RF Labour Code which prohibits the dismissal of female workers with children under 3 years of age.

Kamskiye Zori has prepared a legal claim asking to qualify the district administration’s actions as unlawful. “We are determined to defend our rights and the rights of our readers,” the open letter said.

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

Trans-Baikal Region. Seized computers returned, but with part of information missing

By Marina Meteleva, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Alexander Polupoltinnykh, editor of Rezonans, a newspaper for prisoners released by the Trans-Baikal Region Penal Department, posted a statement in his web blog on 7 February saying he is concerned with the possibility of provocations in connection with recent developments in his office.

Over the 16 years of his tenure as Rezonans chief editor, Lt.-Col. Polupoltinnykh has earned the reputation of a good professional who has not received a single reprimand from his commanders. So what happened to him recently? According to the editor, on 11 January officers of the Internal Security and Organisation & Analysis units carried away three office computers involved in the publishing process.

“They did not show a confiscation warrant, or make a protocol, or explain why the computers were being seized,” he said. “On 16 January, one computer was returned and the other two were retained by Internal Security. Significantly, all the three PCs are newspaper staffers’ personal property that is off the balance sheet of the Penal Department’s accounting office. Two were purchased with journalists’ own money and one was received as a gift; stored on their hard discs is private information which, if made public, may harm the owners and signal a violation of their right of privacy.”

Another PC was returned on 18 January. “But when we switched it on, we found some hard-disc data missing – particularly, a large collection of news reports about activities of the Penal Department, Justice Ministry, Presidential Administration, as well as news reprints from local web portals, and private information,” the editor said. “The situation is unclear: Lt.-Col. A. N. Kozulin, the Internal Security chief, says ‘no one ever seized your computers’, although their confiscation and destruction of part of the information stored on them are undeniable facts.”

“I see this kind of reaction as a manifestation of cowardice and a lie in respect of a fellow serviceman,” Polupoltinnykh wrote in his blog. “It is an act below a military officer’s dignity. I received a similarly mendacious comment also from Capt. B. B. Norboyev, one of the computer confiscators in the presence of my fellow journalists and other persons whom I can name if need be. He said it was not he but ‘someone looking like him’, who had taken part in carrying out the PCs. Yet I can prove it was he in person who did it, and I have eyewitnesses to confirm this.”

One of the most likely versions – one shared by Alexander himself – is that the reason behind this strange confiscation is the honest and principled stand held by A. Polupoltinnykh, who makes no secret, by the way, of his critical attitude toward the ruling party. With presidential elections in the offing, his fellow servicemen evidently decided to give him a warning signal – lest he should say something “wrong” – but failed to muster up enough courage to say it to his face.

Republic of Altai (Siberia). Listok correspondent’s house searched, computer seized

By Sergei Mikhailov, founder of Listok newspaper, city of Gorno-Altaisk

The home of Ruslan Makarov, Listok’s correspondent in the Ust-Koks District and chief editor of the district newspaper Listok v Ust-Kokse, was searched on 8 February, according to Makarov himself.

The search was carried out by officers of the republican Investigative Committee on a 6 February warrant issued by district court Judge V. Manatov within the framework of criminal proceedings on charges of “violence in respect of a government officer” (Article 318 of the RF Criminal Code). The point is Makarov wrote a report about an incident involving law enforcement officials – a case in which he poses as a witness.

To begin with, the searchers urged him to voluntarily submit firearms. Of course, no firearms were found, but the visitors seized his PC, cell phones and all the data carriers, including DVDs. That actually froze the operation of our correspondent’s office in Ust-Koks.

On the following day, all the confiscated equipment was returned, but at about 5 p.m. on Sunday, 12 February, Makarov’s workshop caught fire. A neighbour rang the alarm, and the journalist managed to save his dog and pull his car out of the burning workshop, but by the time a fire brigade arrived – soon enough, though – the shop had been fully burned down. Makarov is not sure whether the fire was caused by wiring problems or arson.

He is known as an active critic of the authorities, including the incumbent district head Sergei Grechushnikov who is running for re-election on 4 March; Makarov has repeatedly reported the district leader’s unlawful behaviour to the law enforcement agencies.

Grechushnikov, for his part, is notorious for his “passionate love” of the independent media. First, he initiated criminal proceedings on libel charges against the previous editor of Listok v Ust-Kokse, Ivan Kudryavtsev, and later went as far as attacking the journalist, beating him and breaking an office photo camera. Repercussions of that scandal reached the New-York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) at the time, but later it was soft-pedalled – maybe due to Grechushnikov’s friendship with the republic’s ex-prosecutor Andrei Volkov. One cannot rule out that this time, too, the district head may be relying on his connections in law enforcement for putting pressure on Makarov.

Yekaterinburg. Police officer convicted for killing TV studio engineer

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Ordzhonikidze district court in Yekaterinburg on 10 February sentenced former police officer Pavel Miroshnikov to 13 years in a tight-security prison for killing TV studio engineer Yevgeny Ilyushchenko. The sentence was passed based on two charges – action in excess of one’s official authority (Article 286) and homicide (Article 105 of the RF Criminal Code).

The high-resonance killing occurred in an apartment block in Yekaterinburg’s Ilyich Street early on 23 January 2011, when Miroshnikov, 44, a serviceman of the special unit against economic crime at Police Precinct No. 15, quarrelled with his 29-year-old neighbour Ilyushchenko. The policeman, being in a state of intoxication, discharged his pistol into his opponent’s chest. An ambulance arrived only to certify the young man’s death.

As pointed out in the text of the sentence, most of Miroshnikov’s defensive arguments were found “untrue” or “illogical”. Specifically, the court turned down his self-defence plea after establishing that the police officer had fired the shots deliberately, from under his jacket, which meant that had been anything but self-defence.

During the reading of the sentence to the “Urals version of Yevsyukov” [a hint at another police officer who had gunned down about a dozen shoppers in a Moscow supermarket – Translator.], the courtroom was crammed. Shortly before the sitting, Miroshnnikov’s former colleagues staged a picketing action outside the court building to express solidarity with the defendant.

The court also required Miroshnikov to pay a total of 715,000 roubles (15,000 to reimburse pay for the lawyer’s services and 700,000 in moral damages) to the victim’s widow, who told the Novy Region news agency she was satisfied with the sentence passed.



Some statistics cited

Last week, the Glasnost Defence Foundation was referred to at least 10 times in the Internet, including at:

IFEX: Journalist detained for questioning after publishing open letter to Putin

Noviye Izvestia: Journalist in Kostroma threatened for highlighting corrupt practices in police

Ne Sekretno: Molotov cocktail as a weapon against free press

Novy Fokus: Rossvyazkomnadzor in Khakassia protects Karatosh newspaper against Sayanogorsk electoral committee

Park Gagarina: Federal authorities grant accreditation, local authorities cancel it

Ne Sekretno: Anna Klimova: All we need is to provide PR promotion for Chirkunov

Civitas.ru: Journalist who won case in court required to compensate loser’s judicial expenses

Novy Fokus: Mailboxes stink

RIAN: Reports about threats to Kostroma-based journalist will be checked



Journalist and media rights defence centre opened in Karelia (Northwest)

By Anatoly Tsygankov, Chairman, Karelia Journalists’ Union

The idea of setting up a journalist and media rights defence centre under the auspices of Karelia’s Journalists’ Union began to be discussed back in autumn 2009, when we agreed that lawyer Yelena Paltseva of the Soyuz Partnership of Legal Experts will consult individual journalists and media staffs on media law-related issues.

Since then, we actively looked for a grant to finance the plan; finally, the necessary funds were found. The Open Door Project today enables any journalist to come to the new Centre to request legal assistance, if need be.

Consulting and mutual assistance will be available on any matter related to media and journalists’ professional work, such as violations of professional rights, interference with journalistic activity, etc. We believe sharing expertise, even negative experience, will be helpful to all.



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