24 Ноября 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 823

November 13, 2017


City TV channel correspondent fired in Magadan

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Vyacheslav Filogriyevsky, editor-in-chief of the Magadan-based television channel MTK, has been fired from the company without notice, allegedly for a series of professional shortfalls.

According to the journalist, however, he was dismissed on orders from Magadan Mayor Yuri Grishan. His conflict with the city head started back in spring, when MTK learned that the 3-million-rouble subsidy offered by a private sponsor for the city channel's development (MTK was facing bankruptcy prospects at the time) was for some reason to be shared with the private television company Karibu, as mayoral spokesman Oleg Dudnik told journalists. For a description of administration official Dudnik's relations with Karibu, see digest 807 (gdf.ru).

The MTK staffers, who had suffered from wage payment delays for quite a long time by then, protested the proposed scheme of money-sharing and filed a complaint with the City Duma. The group of signatories included MTK Director Lyudmila Malysheva (who later resigned) and Vyacheslav Filogriyevsky. Although the MPs required the mayor to explain the situation, no subsidy money ever did reach MTK because the municipal contract went to Karibu. Also according to Filogriyevsky, he might have been fired because he had not sung the authorities' praises as the mayor would like him to, and had even criticised those at the helm on his YouTube channel.

Yelena Shirokova, the incumbent MTK chief editor, says she did not participate in decision-making on her predecessor's dismissal. Filogriyevsky plans to challenge the decision in court.

This is not for the first time that an editor gets kicked out after stating his position in social media. In April this year, a critical Facebook post about Vladimir Safronkov, Russia's representative at the United Nations, cost the chief editor's chair to Andrei Grishin of the newspaper Vecherniy Magadan (see digest 799).

Mass picketing action held in protest against journalist and human rights activities in Chechnya

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

Dozens of people from different parts of the Chechen Republic came to the courthouse in the capital Grozny on 9 November to attend hearings of an Interior Ministry claim against the Civil Co-action group led by Svetlana Gannushkina. The group of action participants was dominated by female activists holding hand-made placards and chanting, “Kalyapin, out of the republic!”, “Milashina, go away!”, “We want justice!”, “NO to lies and libel!” etc.

When Novaya Gazeta journalist Yelena Milashina came out to face the crowd, the slogan chanting grew louder, urging her to stop “shielding terrorists”.

Inside, the court was busy reviewing an appeal filed by human rights defenders in a bid to avoid a lawsuit brought by the Chechen Interior Ministry (MVD) in defence of its reputation. On 10 November, the republic's Supreme Court granted the MVD's claim against a local resident, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, and the Civil Co-action group, allowing the defendants 10 days to disclaim their report about local resident Ramazan Jaladdinov's having become a target for repression.

As reported earlier, Jaladdinov of the village of Kenkhi complained last year about “poor living conditions and widespread corruption” in his native village. Days later, he was forced to publicly apologize to the republic's head, Ramzan Kadyrov, for that complaint.

Glasnost in Yekaterinburg: Setbacks and victories, Urals style

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Yet another media resource has ceased existing in the Urals: Olga Chebykina, head of the Malina Internet channel, announced its closure while launching another project, King of Content, on its basis to produce custom-made videos. As seen recently, this means that information for audiences will grow scarce, but judicial battles will go on: currently, there is a lawsuit for Malina to pay back the 20 million roubles the channel borrowed at one time from its more successful peer, Channel Four.

Another piece of news is that the Public Chamber of Yekaterinburg is to be “protected” from journalists. Public activists seconded by the press have actively criticised local authorities lately for the poor reconstruction of different sites and poor road repairs. To scale down tensions, the more so on the eve of the 2018 World Football Championship, a decision has reportedly been taken to restrict public activists' access to the media. At present, journalists are simply not invited to cover events involving debates over reconstruction/repairs. The timing of such events, while not being hushed up altogether, is not being announced out loud either to avoid attracting media attention.

There's encouraging news, too. Until recently, Pravozashchitniki Urala (Urals Human Rights Defenders) website publications about “activist” outrage committed in Sverdlovsk Region penal colonies under prison-guard protection were frequently, although futilely, challenged in court. Yet of the two lawsuits filed at the initiative of the regional Penal Department against prominent prisoner rights defendant and member of the regional Public Supervision Commission Larisa Zakharova and the above-mentioned website's administrator, the first one - from Ivdel Penal Colony No.63 deputy head Anton Kozlov - was won back in August this year. The second trial initiated by the colony itself as a legal entity ended on 10 November. The plaintiff challenged Zakharova's Facebook publications about illegal drug trade at Colony No.63 and two more stories about the harassment of four inmates who'd had their fill of torture and humiliation by “activist” prisoners was turned down by Judge Marina Orlova, who also charged the judicial costs to the “law enforcers”.

Although the case is yet to be reviewed by an appellate panel, the truth will hopefully prevail.

Karelia's head toughens rules of interaction with social-media users

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

Karelia Governor Arthur Parfenchikov seems to be abandoning his almost sole real achievement so far - his social-media dialogue with residents of the republic. As indicated on his VKontakte page, he is changing the rules of user comment moderation to make them harsher than before.

This can be taken as an attempt to cope with heaps of “negative” information constantly dumped on the governor. Evidently, giving answers is often too difficult for him - sometimes impossible, because he has nothing to say in essence, while moderators' runarounds irritate complaining citizens even more when they read replies “from Parfenchikov”.

The governor has long ceased making a secret of the fact that he “interacts' with social-media users through his aides who prepare replies to questions and complaints addressed to him in person. True, he does his best to personally monitor the most sensitive topics fraught with public scandals, and to promptly react to them. Yet it is equally true that Parfenchikov has broken down and can no longer sustain the previous rate of personal correspondence with Karelia residents, which fact he acknowledged by changing the rules.

At the initial stage, Governor Parfenchikov's openness in social media added to his public prestige: it was really uncommon for the head of a republic to personally correspond with residents. With time, he started frowning - especially at those asking “awkward” questions, and simply because of time shortages for answering all the questions. That is why he first delegated the handling of correspondence to specialists, and now his aides are seeking to streamline the questions-answers flow by making it more rational and rigidly manageable.

Parfenchikov's desire to back out of public have-it-outs with angry citizens - and the bulk of his correspondents are people dissatisfied with the poor performance of the republic's government - has logically ended in the establishment of stricter rules of commenting for the readers, and of more austere rules of moderation for the “public reception office”. The governor has got tired of his former “unbridled openness” which now will be reduced to the usual flow of public complaints through the cement-floor corridors of official instructions. Many thought the new governor would be able to run a longer race…

Russian “Companion” in Perm reminded of English lord's son

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Region

Companion Publishers', founder of the business weekly Novyi Kompanyon, has become the defendant in a 1-million-rouble moral damage lawsuit brought against it in a bid to defend “the honour and dignity” of a group of Perm regional Rosimushchestvo (Public Property Management) officials including its former deputy heads Galina Postanogova and Andrei Bayev, ex-head of the Legal Department Yuri Podpaly, and lawyer Mikhail Postanogov, who estimated the worth of their moral suffering at 250,000 roubles each.

In digests 726, 729 and 742, the GDF reported on legal claims brought against the same defendant by OAO Port Perm and its actual owner Charles Butler, a British subject described by journalists as an “English lord”. In the publications titled “Perm to Have No Port in Another Couple of Years” and “Nearly Run Ashore”, the plaintiffs disliked passages about the transfer of big sums of money from Russia to the Czech Republic, the sale of vessels, wage and tax defaults, violations of the Foreign Investments Act, the shortening of the working week accompanied by a swelling of pay to top managers, etc. The Arbitration Court of Perm on 3 February 2016 dismissed Port Perm's claims as ungrounded, and the Leninsky district court on 29 February 2016 rejected Butler's lawsuit altogether.

Novyi Kompanyon continued covering port affairs. Its article “Charles Butler on the Run” dated 14 February 2017 reported on yet another criminal case opened against OAO Port Perm: the “English lord's son” was suspected of land machinations worth over 1 billion roubles and put on the federal wanted list. That was followed by the filing of a new claim by persons not mentioned in the publication.

“My name has been smeared in clashes among shareholders whom I don't know,” Podpaly said on 9 November at a preliminary sitting of the Leninsky district court in Perm. “False assertions underpinning the publication are casting a shadow on our professional community,” said Bayev who was fired from Roskomimushchestvo in 2016 for one-time gross neglect of his official duties.

The names of Podpaly and Bayev are missing in the story being challenged, but both plaintiffs are insisting they recognised themselves in the sentence, “Responsible Rosimushvhestvo officials wrote a testimonial a priori dooming them to failure, did not even appear in court, and lost the case”. The story was about privatizing federal land plots on the Kama bank in the historical centre of Perm.

Plaintif Postanogova, also fired in 2016 from Rosimushchestvo with the same motivation, and her lawyer M. Postanogov did not come to attend the preliminary hearing. They want a quarter of a million each for the sentence, “Accidentally or not, but Butler's lawyer is barrister Mikhail Postanogov, husband of Galina Postanogova who held a top position at Rosimushchestvo when the land plots were being privatized”.

Judge Yekaterina Opletina appointed further preliminary hearings for 7 December, and the main court sitting for 13 December.


Pochta Rossii fails to timely deliver mail to subscribers in Rostov Region

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Long-adjusted to chronic personnel shortages at the local post offices, Rostov residents have corrected, using a modern phrase, their consumer behaviour by stopping to write ordinary letters (which they hardly ever hope to see delivered to the addressee, unlike registered mail which still has some chance to get through), and by dropping subscription to newspapers altogether. In some urban areas, the number of subscribers to local and federal periodicals has come almost to naught. Why subscribe to a newspaper if you can't hope to receive it anyway?

It looks as if postal workers themselves have got used to this - and not only rank-and-filers but their bosses as well. “Where do I get a postman for you? We have 4 staff positions unfilled: no one agrees to toil for just 10,000 roubles a month!” was Rostov Central Post Office chief Angelica Amrangyan's blistering tirade in response to my angry remark about the postal service's failure to deliver some very important letters from the Bailiff's Service, Prosecutor's Office, and State Housing Inspectorate to me. No delivery at all - neither timely nor belated! By the way, regional Pochta Rossii (Russia's Post) department head Roman Kostenko has left my formal complaint about the poor performance of his subordinates unanswered - or maybe he furnished a reply that the postman again may have failed to deliver.

As it turned out later, the 10-thousand-rouble salary in our neighbourhood had been paid to a guy doing his alternative service at Pochta Rossii instead of the army. Since he also was a university student, he had left on vacation to study, which was the actual reason why I never got my long-awaited mail. Most unfortunately, when the guy's term of alternative service ended, we again found ourselves without a postman! Some, though, have to go through still more unfortunate situations… I watched one elderly lady nearly faint at the Central Post Office upon learning that after her relatives in Switzerland had invited her to come over, paid a significant sum for the necessary documentation, and she herself had arranged for taking a leave from work, she failed to duly get the go-ahead letter she'd been waiting for (evidently, the relatives had sent it by ordinary, not registered, mail). Europeans just can't imagine a message not hitting the addressee's mailbox at some exact moment; they probably know nothing about registered mail at all!

That reminded me of a newspaper rubric, “Tested on My Own Skin”, which used to be very popular with the readers in olden days; so I subscribed for two months to Komsomolskaya Pravda (the daily editions plus a thick release once a month) as of 1 November. For a week, I checked my mailbox every day (to no avail), and suddenly found all the six numbers for the week delivered in a bunch on 7 November. But on the 8th, 9th, and 10th, the mailbox was empty again.

“Untimely delivery, you say - what do you mean?” Angelica Amragyan asked feigning surprise. “You have a full-time postman working in your neighbourhood since 1 January!”

Well, this means they can only afford hiring this kind of “workers” for 10 thousand a month, I thought to myself. The lady boss then spent quite some time trying to avoid accepting my formal complaint written in line with the Rules of Periodicals' Delivery and the RF Law “On Consumer Rights Protection”. She directed me to the other end of the city, allegedly the only location where these kinds of complaints could be filed. So I had to show some real perseverance arguing with her.

What's there to comment on? However hard federal and regional media might try to increase the number of their subscribers, their efforts would be in vain unless Pochta Rossii starts ticking like a Swiss watch - the way it should, following the example of postal services in all the civilized countries. Otherwise, no “Subscriber Week Actions” offering discounted prices and showing other marketing tricks will ever help the Russian media to increase their circulations due to larger pools of subscribers.

…As regards my formal complaints to post office bosses, they may come in handy yet: suing Pochta Rossii is long overdue. I've already got bunches of documents proving their outrageous negligence. There must be someone to call the postal workers - alleged partners of our media - to order.

Double standards in Krasnodar Region

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Yevgeny Filimonov, known in Anapa, Krasnodar Region, as the owner of numerous newspapers and news websites, as well as a retail network selling periodicals, has too often been described in the negative light in the media lately. After his family built a 6-storey hotel in the health resort Vityazevo near Anapa, the mayor's house declared the structure illegal and filed a lawsuit against Filimonov, whom a court of law then required to tear the hotel down.

Instead of complying with the court decision, the Filimonovs hired a private specialist who produced an expert opinion saying the construction pattern in Vityazevo was too dense for the hotel building to be separated and destroyed. Now the owners have lodged an appeal for the hotel to be legalized contrary to the first-instance court's ruling.

Anapa residents are appalled by the media owner's resourcefulness in defending unauthorized construction which he so fiercely criticised not so long ago. They believe journalists should have a moral right for criticism and that double standards are impermissible for reporters.

This digest was prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation in Moscow. The digest has been issued once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.

We acknowledge the assistance of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

Currently it is distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editorial board

  • Editor-in-chief, Alexei Simonov
  • Boris Timoshenko, Head of Monitring Service;
  • Svetlana Zemskova, GDF Lawyer;
  • Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy, translator.

We welcome the promotion of our news items and articles but if you make use of any information from this digest or other GDF materials please acknowledge the source.


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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