17 Сентября 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 814

September 11, 2017


Anna Politkovskaya Camertone Award established by Russian Union of Journalists handed to winners in Moscow

The Anna Politkovskaya Camertone award-giving ceremony was held at the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatoire on International Day of Journalists' Solidarity, 8 September.

It is an annual event established by the Russian Union of Journalists feting human rights and press freedom defence champions. “The prize is awarded for telling the truth and for honesty in the first place, not for propaganda,” said creative producer of Union of Journalists programmes Georgy Karetnikov.

The main prize went to Novaya Gazeta newspaper and Ekho Moskvy Radio observer Yulia Latynina. VGTRK Television special correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny, currently in Syria, is among the laureates.

Yulia Latynina was not present at the ceremony for valid reason: she had been evacuated from Russia for the sake of her safety, said Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov. “I do not comment on my journalists' safety issues for the sake of their safety,” he said. “I can say that Yulia has been evacuated and will stay away for several months… She is not coming to get the prize. My first deputy will collect it for her”.

Latynina has been repeatedly victimised; she has been attacked several times during the past year: in August 2016, unidentified assailants splashed sewage on her and sped away on a motorbike; in late July 2017 someone spayed an unknown pungent gas on her house; and on 3 September, her car was torched and burnt down.

The award-giving ceremony took place under the aegis of the concert in memory of the journalists killed in performance of their duty. Pianist Yevgeny Kisin played a Beethoven sonata and Rakhmaninov's preludes. The Union of Russian Journalists awarded a Badge of Honour to the pianist.

The Russian Union of Journalists established the Anna Politkovskaya Camertone Award on the birthdate of the killed journalist, 30 August 2013. The organisers will remit all the money raised at the charity concert to the families of killed journalists.


Journalist threatened over critical publication about MP Natalya Poklonskaya (Moscow/Yekaterinburg)

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

Znak.com special correspondent in Moscow Yekaterina Vinokurova has reported to the Severnoye Izmailovo district police department that she received threats. Vinokurova wrote on her Telegram channel that the police had accepted her report. “The matter is linked to radical orthodoxy supporters and `Matilda' (a film),” she said.

Znak.com said in comments that Vinokurova had been threatened after publishing articles about State Duma lawmaker Natalia Poklonskaya, an outspoken critic of Alexei Uchitel's as-yet-unreleased film which was also condemned by the Russian orthodox clergy. Facebook user called Curtis Davis sent her this comment: “Be thankful that they've been only writing letters so far; if the film comes out, wait for a stab in your side in the Izmailovsky Park at night-time”.

The Znak.com administration has been very alarmed over these events. Urals journalists stand together with their colleagues who have often been threatened for their critical stories recently.

GDF will follow up on the story.

Yelena Nadtoka's case closed in Rostov Region

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Novocherkassk's magistrate court dropped the criminal case against journalist Yelena Nadtoka after the Russian Supreme Court ordered a second trial. The judge noted that there had been no elements of crimes in the defendant's actions.

The Novocherkassk-based journalist became a defendant in the criminal case which was opened in 2004 after her critical report in the local newspaper Vecherniy Novocherkassk about the then city mayor's policies. The author's article referred to the incumbent mayor as a “thievish Altai man”. Novocherkassk mayor filed a libel case against Nadtoka with a magistrate court. At that time, libel was a criminal offence. Nadtoka was acting editor-in-chief at the time, so she became the defendant. The journalist was fined 50,000 roubles.

After her failed attempts to have the verdict overturned, Nadtoka, assisted by Media Rights Defence Centre lawyers, complained to the European Court of Human Rights. The European Court ruled in her favour and the Russian Supreme Court finally reviewed her case this year. It ruled to remit the case to the Novocherkassk court for retrial.

The journalist's lawyer Tumas Misakyan plans to file a statement with the court over Yelena Nadtoka's rehabilitation and demand compensation for her unlawful prosecution.

Media holding owned by State Duma deputy claims bankrupt in Perm

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

AktivMedia JSC controlled by State Duma lawmaker from the ruling United Russia Party Dmitry Skrivanov has filed for bankruptcy with the Perm Region Arbitration Court.

In 2014, the prospective parliamentary candidate referred to his plans to launch new print and online media as a “business project”. They included the newspapers Permskaya Tribuna, V Kurse.Perm (“In the Know”), Komsomolskaya Pravda v Permi and Zvezda; the Ekho Moskvy v Permi and Komsomolskaya Pravda v Permi radio stations; the Vkurse.ru and Mestnoye Vremya (Local Time) news portals, and the Ural-Inform TV television company. Former financial director Alexander Belyayev, who sued the media holding over bonus payment arrears, told in early 2016 how Skrivanov felt about journalists and other staff. In 2015, 20 percent of funding had to come from AktivMedia JSC and 80 percent from investor Skrivanov. The lawmaker did not keep his end of the bargain, leading to the delays in payments to business partners and staff, Beyayev told Perm's Sverdlovsky District Court.

GDF reported that journalists had to file legal actions against ActiveMedia in 2017 (see digests 800 www.gdf.ru and 807 (www.gdf.ru). Alexander Pastukhov, Denis Kashnikov and Alexander Sosnin proved the media holding's wage debt to them. To recover the debt, bailiffs arrested all AktivMedia property they were able to discover, including 24 monitors, 17 phones, two notebooks, and one colour printer.

AktivMedia's bankruptcy statement has not been reviewed yet as the media holding has not paid a state duty of 6,000 rubles.


YES to “Hyde Park” in St. Petersburg!

By Roman Zakharov, GDF correspondent in North-Western Federal District

Following mass protests in the Field of Mars, St. Petersburg authorities took it out from the list of city “Hyde Parks”. The journalists responded by opening a new free discussion platform.

This year, St. Petersburg's Field of Mars has seen several actions which unnerved the city administration, including an anti-corruption rally in March (www.gdf.ru), an action against the passing of St. Isaak's Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church, and an LGBT rally (www.gdf.ru). As a result, the Field of Mars, which has been a city “Hyde Park” since 2012, will be removed from the list of locations having such status. With one stroke of the pen St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko made this historical site in the city centre subject to the general rules which require city authorities' consent to any mass actions (bringing together more than two persons).

In response, the Business News Agency and St. Petersburg Legislature deputy Marina Shishkina (a longtime dean of the Department of Journalism at St. Petersburg State University currently holding a top position at the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region's Union of Journalists) announced the establishment of a media Hyde Park called “On the Right Side” at the agency's quarters in Zagorodny Prospekt which is located in the city centre, too. The organisers said they were providing free access for people of all views with no impediments or censorship for the speakers or restrictions on topics. All the actions will be live-streamed. The new “Hyde Park” venue will open on 12 October 2017 with a discussion of political and religious propaganda at schools.

At present, several press centres of Russia's second largest city news agencies offer media platforms providing this service. Setting up a new “media Hyde Park” can hardly compensate the closure of the only open-air venue for rallies and protest actions in the city centre. Meanwhile, head of the Regional Press Institute (IRP) Anna Sharogradskaya noted that “The more freedom we have the better”. There are few open-air platforms in St Petersburg which is an impediment to any public event (for example, for journalists) addressing topics disliked by the authorities. “Can the new initiative secure freedom of expression?” the IRP head asked. She and her colleagues are well aware of the incumbent authorities' loathing of independence.

This St. Petersburg-based organisation has provided an opportunity for discussion and interaction between journalists and politicians, public and human rights activists for years, and for this, the IRP was ousted from the city House of Journalists and declared a “foreign agent” while its personnel were repeatedly searched and nearly accused of terrorism. The GDF earlier gave a detailed account of persecution of this organisation.

Krasnodar Region community: Informational or criminal?

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Investigative Committee Department for the Krasnodar Region is continuing the probe into the criminal case against former head of the regional Department for Press and Mass Communications Olga Gorokhova on charges of the crimes covered by Russia's Criminal Code Article 285 (abuse of administrative powers and misuse of budget money). The defendant has been on the pledge not to leave town and understanding of proper conduct since June 2016.

Book-keeping, handwriting, legal, financial, and economic expert examinations have been carried out as part of the criminal probe and a large number of witnesses have been questioned. The dragged-out investigation is also influenced by the regional Audit Chamber's check into the Information Policy Department's use of local budget money when implementing a sub-programme of the state programme “Kuban Information Society”. Audit details were only provided in March 2017.

The final assessment of the defendant's actions requires a complex language and psychological examination by Penza Region experts. They will examine the expediency of paying regional budget money to television channels for airing programmes which allegedly informed the public about the work of the Krasnodar Region administration and regional executive bodies.

The auditors will look into the government contracts the Information Department has concluded with the Kuban Periodicals Newspaper Publishing House JSC, Radio ROKS-Region Radio Company, and a number of television companies.

In fact, all the media outlets working with the Publishing House under contact and drawing money for covering the government bodies' work will be audited. The striving for state coffers only brought problems on regional media bosses associated with the authorities. The coffers have long been empty, but no end of problems is in sight.

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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119992 Moscow, Russia.

Telephone/fax: +7 (495) 637-4947 and +7 (495) 637-4420
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