12 Сентября 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 813

September 4, 2017


Attacks on journalists in Yekaterinburg

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

No sooner had the trials of Yermak journalists' attackers ended where they got the deserved punishment (see Digest 811) that two new incidents occurred in the Urals region capital in late August.

Channel One reporter Alexei Ivanov was beaten up as he was taking footage of dedicated public transport lanes on 29 August. The conflict occurred in the Malysheva and Rozy Luxembourg Streets area when passengers of a Mercedes driving along the dedicated lane saw that they were being captured on video. The car stopped, and an altercation ensued between the journalist and Mercedes passengers which escalated to a fight. The driver threw Ivanov onto the ground and it was only after eye-witnesses' intervention that he stopped beating him. The journalist was rushed to hospital with a broken nose and brain concussion.

“The infliction of bodily harm on a mainstream channel reporter was reported to the Kirov district police on 29 August. The police are investigating a criminal case over purposeful infliction of light bodily harm with hooliganism motives (Article 115.2 of Russia's Criminal Code),” the Investigative Committee Department for the Sverdlovsk Region said.

Police might refer the case to the Investigative Committee as the offence also bears the signs of crime covered by Criminal Code Article 144.3 (“Obstructing legitimate professional activity of journalists aggravated by using violence on journalists”). Meanwhile, the attacker was identified as Albert Mamakayev, 25, a Verkhnyaya Tura resident and Universal Fighters martial arts club member.

On 28 August, Krik TV cameraman Yevgeny Russkikh took footage for the One Day programme in Vainer Street in central Yekaterinburg. As he sat down on a bench to replay the video a group of youngsters came out of an underground pass and began to pick on passers-by. “They attacked every second person,” the journalist said. He suffered a jaw injury and a knocked-out tooth in the ensuing assault. Russkikh immediately phoned the channel's editor, Yevgeny Anisimov, who reported the incident to police. The next day, the channel ran the trailer showing a clear picture of bloodstained sidewalk.

“A citizen reported to Police Department No. 5 the infliction of bodily harm by unidentified persons,” the city police press service said in comments on last Sunday incident. “A check into the incident is under way. The man was sent for medical expert examination to assess the gravity of harm caused to his health”.

GDF will follow up on the story.


Omsk regional information policy chief disliking a journalist's Facebook comment urges him to resign

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Director of the Omsk Region's Main Department for Information Policy Stanislav Sumarokov has showcased new technology of “authorities and media interaction” in social media posts. This interaction is a priority, the Department said on its webpage.

A Facebook community recently had a heated discussion on the Omsk media forum which addressed regional mass media development problems. Taking part in the discussion were Moscow experts, including Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Alexei Volin and Communication Agency Director Lesya Ryabtseva. Sumarokov was offended by Tarskoye Priirtyshye newspaper correspondent Andrei Kurnikov's remark who found it odd that “the invitations to attend the forum were only sent to district newspapers' editors-in-chief”. On the face of it, an innocuous remark made the official lose his temper and brought him to the state where he could give vent to the feelings he had hitherto supressed. This is what he replied: “Because district editors are more or less adequate journalists, don't you know it, buddy?! (((“The spelling and punctuation are the same as in the original - GDF.).

This one phrase revealed what kind of person Mr Sumarokov was and how he felt about journalists: “Everybody's inadequate except his appointees”. GDF reported in Digest 782 (www.gdf.ru) that after he took office at the Main Department for Information Policy, contracts were cancelled with all “inadequate” editors of district newspapers. In the opinion of department officials, being adequate means being loyal to the authorities; any journalist whose views are at variance with the administration's is “inadequate”. Tarskoye Priirtyshye's editor-in-chief was replaced with “adequate” Tatyana Shatova, a math teacher by education who had never had a mass media job yet she had headed the local Executive Committee of the ruling United Russia Party.

Judging by Stanislav Sumarokov's background, he never had problems with adequacy; he worked for the press centres of the city administration's Transport Department and the Omsk Central District Administration, headed the People's Party Propaganda Department and the Advertising Department of the Sibirsky Bereg company and was Rosselkhozbank and Rostelecom press secretary. It so happened that he always had to represent the customer's interests in the mass media (not the interests of the reader, listener or viewer), hence his conviction that journalism is all about “what you will,” and open insolence toward lower-rank people, as this highly-paid “people's servant” views them.

In the course of further dialogue with Andrei Kurnikov, Mr Sumarkov offered him to resign. What a way for Information Department chief to publicly handle human resources issues using social media! Apparently his superiors, including the Omsk Region governor, do not question his adequacy.

Judges in Krasnodar Region unlawfully bar reporters from courtroom

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Until recently, the Ust-Labinsky District Court had a notice at the entrance listing the rules of conduct for citizens at magistrates' offices. Item 6 of the “document” clearly stated that “A mass media representative is allowed into the courtroom only if they produce a written permit issued by the court's chairperson or presiding judge on the eve of the hearing”.

Spravedlivaya Kuban television programme journalists who said they wanted to attend an Ust-Labinsky District Court hearing were told that this was not possible under the court's effective regulations.

After the programme's critical reports on the topic in August, the court removed the regulations from the notice board. However, television journalists are still largely denied access to legal proceedings running at Krasnodar Region district courts. Judges deny entry to journlists without citing any regulations despite the judicial authorities' statements about the openness of the courts.

Convicted ex-MP tries but fails to cover his embezzlement-related debt to Perm regional budget by referencing personal data protection law

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Perm's Lenin District Court has turned down lawyer Alexander Petrov's request to clear the courtroom of journalists and review the petition of his client, former deputy of the Prikamye Legislative Assembly Andrei Agishev, behind closed doors. The former legislator from the United Russia Party, convicted of misuse of funds and fraud, asked the regional court to allow deferred payments of the stolen sum to the regional budget.

GDF reported in Digest 635 on Agishev's putting pressure on the Novy Companion weekly which dared break the news about the arrest of the suspect's property (see digest 635). Although the Perm Regional Court reviewed the former deputy's property arrest complaint at an open hearing, he blamed the publication for illegal dissemination of his personal data and information about his private life. On 17 July 2015, Perm's Lenin District Court found Agishev guilty of misuse of 25.5 million roubles belonging to Permregiongaz (renamed to Gazprom Mezhrigongaz Perm) company he had headed and 30-million-rouble fraud involving regional budget funds. The crimes were committed in 2007-2009 under purported charity project for the Ural-Great basketball club which the deputy de facto headed. Agishev was given a five-year suspended sentence and fined one million roubles.

The 5 September 2016 court ruling granted the prosecutors' demand that Agishev reimburse the damage caused to the regional budget. The defendant asked for a three-year deferment to pay back the 30 million rubles. He did not turn up at Perm's Lenin District Court hearing on 28 August 2017.

“I request to hold it in camera because my personal data and information on property and its addresses might be disclosed. We object to the presence of the press,” Agishev's lawyer A. Petrov said citing his client's wish. Prosecutor Dmitry Sverguzov reminded about the openness of legal proceedings and demanded transparent proceedings.

Judge Irina Shabalina ruled not to meet the defendant's petition saying that “The Court cannot prevent the journalists from attending an open hearing” and that the mass media can leave out personal data in their reports.

Lastly, the court granted Agishev's petition of 28 August allowing a three-year deferment. Monthly payments to the regional budget will amount to 100,000 roubles in the first year, 400,000 roubles in the second year, and two million roubles in the third year.

Road-building worker attempts to seize videographer's TV camera in Karelia

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

Nika Plus television company editorial office learnt that the Avtodorstroi road construction firm in Petrozavodsk with which the city administration had cancelled the contract, continued road repairs. The construction firm began to replace asphalt paving on a stretch of a busy city street. Nika Plus sent a camera crew to the scene of unlawful works. When the cameraman began to take footage of the functioning road construction equipment and a long queue of vehicles crawling past, an Avtodorstoi employee attacked the journalist to make him stop video recording. A correspondent came out in defence of the videographer saying that the man was doing his job and warning about a legal action. The attacker stopped reaching out for the camera; stepping aside he began to throw insults at the journalists telling them not to interfere with road repairs. Nika Plus aired the verbal assault episode as well.

The broadcast trailer also showed Petrozavodsk mayor Irina Miroshnik confirming the cancellation of the contract with Avtogorstroi because of the company's poor quality of work. All the contract cancellation procedures had been carried out, so it is unclear why the company suddenly decided to unilaterally continue working and remove the asphalt paving which did not need repairs as it was in a good condition. Nika Plus journalists have not yet reported Avtodorstroi employees' actions to the supervisory body; the editorial office does not rule out this possibility.

Karelia's independent online magazine Chernika resumes operation

By Alexander Borisov, GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District

Chernika, an independent online magazine shut down in June 2017 (see Digest 805), has resumed operation. The new editorial office has three journalists on staff: editor Valery Potashov, new website owner Alexei Vladimirov, and correspondent Tatyana Smirnova. The overhauled Chernika is fully autonomous leaning on the support of the business people needing an independent reporter.

Background: The Guberniya Publishing House launched the Chernika online magazine project in September 2015. It published news and analysed hot topics. On 31 May 2017, the journalists were told that the magazine would take a holiday break for the whole summer. The then Chernika editor, Ivan Gusev, said that the decision had been made due to the magazine's low popularity.


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in August 2017

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 7 (Nikita Razvozzhayev, NTV correspondent, Moscow; Ali Feruz (Khudoberdy Nurmatov), Novaya Gazeta journalist, Moscow; Eduard Freier, Sakh.com news agency correspondent, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk; Ksenya Klochkova, Fontanka.ru reporter, Favid Frenkel, photographer, and Nastoyashcheye Vremya TV channel film crew - all attacked in St. Petersburg; Kstati TV channel film crew, Nizhny Novgorod; Yevgeny Russkikh, cameraman, Krik TV channel, Yekaterinburg; Alexei Ivanov, Channel One correspondent, Yekaterinburg)

Instances of censorship - 3 (RBK television channel, Moscow; Channel One, Moscow; regional governor's press pool, Chelyabinsk)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers - 2 (Lyudmila Shilenko, former editor, newspaper Rodnik, Rostov Region; Виктор Ночевнов, блогер, Краснодарский край).

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist - 2 (Alexei Krivtsov, journalist, newspaper Berega, Yaroslavl Region; Alexei Yakovlev, chief editor, Regnum news agency branch office in Yaroslavl, sacked in May 2017)

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) - 4 (Ali Feruz (Khudoberdy Nurmatov), Novaya Gazeta journalist, Moscow; Vladimir Arsentyev, journalist, Za Prava Cheloveka, regional rights groups' newspaper, Moscow; Kstati TV channel film crew, Nizhny Novgorod; Darya Turtseva, Realnoye Vremya journalist, Tatarstan)

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 7 (Nikita Razvozzhayev, NTV correspondent, Moscow; Andrei Koshik, freelancer, Krasnodar - twice; Alexander Serebryanikov, blogger, Murmansk; Denis Korotkov, Fontanka.ru reporter, St. Petersburg; Nikolai Kasyanov, blogger, Stavropol Region; Yekaterina Vinokurova, Znak.com special reporter, Moscow)

Denial of access to information (including bans on audio/video recording and photography; denials of accreditation; restrictions on visits to or presence at events held in government agencies, at industrial enterprises, in state institutions, etc.) - 23

Closure of media - 1 (Life television channel, Moscow)

Withdrawal/purchase, or confiscation of print run - 1 (news bulletin Iskra, Kirov)

Interference with Internet publications - 2 (website of newspaper Oka-Inform, Moscow Region; web portal Glazei, Moscow Region)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 25


Trial over blogger in Karachai-Cherkess Republic

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

The authorities in the Karachai-Cherkess Republic have lodged against an “ordinary guy”, as Nikolai Kasyanov calls himself, three lawsuits in defence of honour, dignity and business reputation.

Kasyanov, a Pyatigorsk-based blogger and member of the North Caucasian Geographic Society, develops and organises tours around the Caucasus. As anyone whose profession is linked with mountains, he cannot remain indifferent toward the environmental catastrophe observable in many localities where mass tourists direct their steps to. For example, one of the most gorgeous places in the North Caucasus, Arkhyz, has actually been turned into a waste dump.

The first legal claim against Kasyanov came after he reported in a social network that the annual tourist festival Maisky Rassvet (May Sunrise) was to be relocated from Arkhyz to Ossetia particularly because of the terrain's heavy pollution, as the Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot) news agency confirmed later. The second was lodged in the wake of a video posted by Nikolai online and showing Kasyanov with friends cleaning garbage near the monument to the defenders of mountain passes who died during the Second World War, and elsewhere in the specially-protected national park zone.

Notably, the authorities in the Zelenchuksky District adequately reacted to that info at first, and even suggested meeting with Nikolai to try and solve the ecological problem together with volunteers.

The officials, though, were quick to come to their senses and file against Kasyanov the following three lawsuits:

- from the Karachai-Cherkess Environmental and Water Resources Protection Department (according to the defendant, “Several hand-thick volumes, with the cost of printed pages and attached photo pictures high enough to hire a truck and clean up a good dozen hectares of forestland in Arkhyz”);

- from the republic's Cultural Heritage Preservation, Promotion and State Protection Department (“That's evidently to be taken as `thanks' for the cultural memorials we've already cleaned up of trash in Arkhyz,” Nikolai commented); and

- from the Zelenchuksky District administration.

All the claimants urged the author to delete his negative assessments of the ecological situation in Arkhyz and “stop hampering the development of tourism in the `clean' and `nobody's-help-asking' Arkhyz and Karachai-Cherkessia”.

Kasyanov, for his part, thinks that it's the officials who are putting brakes on the promotion of tourism in the republic, whereas he is encouraging it in every thinkable way: “I have a letter of thanks from the Ministry of Tourism of Chechnya for the first groups of Russian tourists I brought there; and another letter of thanks from Kabardino-Balkaria for the weighty contribution to developing tourism - particularly for organising tours to the Gorge of Chegem. I remember bringing the first groups of downhill skiers who were heartily welcomed, with the North Ossetian ropeways switched on especially for them. I remember hundreds of kids with cerebral palsy or cancer, as well as orphans, thanking me and rejoicing at the beauty of Arkhyz and the Caucasus at large… Before the court hearings started, we took the trouble of going over to check the current ecological situation in Arkhyz - maybe [officials] had improved something to save their reputation, you know… Nothing of the kind! We made a heap of videos and photo pictures and submitted copies to court, with the rest sent to the relevant competent agencies. Most of the trash had just been trampled down or covered with a thin layer of earth both in Arkhyz and on St. Sophia's Glade; rubbish and broken glass are sticking out like mushrooms from the ploughed-up terrain on which children walk - and this in the vicinity of the Interior Ministry's tourist base! Part of the trash has just been hidden in forests and ravines, and another part, including construction and chemical waste, has been dumped into rivulets and springs”.

Many people came to the court to support the blogger, traveller, and now environmentalist as well, by the irony of fate. Judge Svetlana Suvorova allowed everyone to photograph and tape record the entire process.

According to Kasyanov, the claimants failed to present a single proof that the waste was recycled at the law-prescribed localities. It turned out representatives of the Zelenchuksky environmental-protection agencies did not know their own range of official authority; allowed the dumping of garbage near monuments to WWII heroes; and knew nothing whatever about construction and household waste, including chemicals, still being handled right in the middle of Arkhyz village, in the specially-protected mineral-water resource zone, with the use of heavy bulldozers.

The village head, Magomet Batchayev, claimed in court that they had sufficient numbers of garbage bins and cleaning personnel, and that refuse was carried away in full. Yet a representative of the municipal cleaning company Vershina, which handles and recycles waste in Arkhyz, challenged that assertion, saying they only recycled waste where the job was paid for and that this year, when the inflow of tourists had grown, they did not have enough heavy equipment to cope with the task.

By way of catching at a straw, the ecological agencies' representative suggested the defendant was an opposition activist provoking people to take to the streets to overthrow the government, and that his article - allegedly a prepaid one - was written on the eve of republic-wide elections.

Batchayev, meanwhile, threatened the blogger in the presence of eyewitnesses in a court corridor with “breaking his legs”, while calling the witnesses “a flock of sheep”. “If he doesn't apologize, it'll be my turn to sue him,” Kasyanov said about Batchayev.

The next court hearing of the blogger's case is scheduled for 14 September. The GDF will closely follow the proceedings.


Belarusian Association of Journalists urges presidential administration to stop harassing freelancers

The Belarussian Association of Journalists (BAZh) asked presidential chief of staff Natalia Kochanova to stop harassing the freelancers cooperating with foreign mass media. The Association published the text of the appeal on its website.

BAZh said that journalists were repeatedly held responsible for violating the mass media law (Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offences). It has registered 35 such cases since the beginning of 2017.

“The association is again highlighting the inadmissibility of holding journalists responsible under CAO Article 22.9. The situation has worsened as never before, journalists are punished with fines indiscriminately for the very fact of publication of their stories by foreign media outlets,” BAZh said.

It cited Articles 33 and 34 of the Belarussian Constitution guaranteeing free gathering, storing and disseminating information, as well as freedom of expression and beliefs. The Association requested to consider the issues stated in the appeal at a meeting involving officials from the presidential administration and other government bodies, as well as persons and organisations concerned.

BAZh forwarded a letter on journalist prosecution to UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye. The Association requests Mr Kaye to demand explanations from the Belarussian authorities regarding the prosecution of journalists, and help put an end to it.

[RFE/RL report, 31 August]

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.


Glasnost Defence Foundation, Room 438, 4 Zubovsky Boulevard,
119992 Moscow, Russia.

Telephone/fax: +7 (495) 637-4947 and +7 (495) 637-4420
e-mail: boris@gdf.ru , or fond@gdf.ru

Все новости

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