15 Августа 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 809

7 August, 2017


Journalist in for deportation to Uzbekistan

By Natalia Severskaya, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

Police in Moscow on August 1 detained Novaya Gazeta journalist Ali Feruz (pen name; his real name is Khudoberdy Nurmatov). He was stopped allegedly for a document check and then taken to a police station.

Earlier Feruz, a citizen of Uzbekistan, had requested asylum in Russia, claiming he was targeted by secret services in the home country. He is staying in Russia without documents: these were stolen in 2012, and the journalist ever since has not risked turning for help to the Uzbekistani embassy.

Yet the Russian authorities have denied temporary shelter to Feruz, and late on August 1 the Basmanny district court in Moscow decided on the journalist's deportation “through forced transfer across the border” in view of his violation as a foreign citizen of the existing rules of stay in Russia. Pending the deportation, Feruz was assigned to a temporary catering centre for foreigners.

As reported shortly afterwards, Feruz got beaten up by bailiffs en route to that catering centre. Yevgeny Yenikeyev, a Supervisory Commission member, personally saw bruises on the journalist's back. He was not allowed to photograph the trauma but the relevant info was reflected in the official records book. The bailiffs had sworn badly at him and had stun-gunned him, the journalist said in a conversation with the human rights defender.

Novaya Gazeta has sent the Russian president a collective appeal to help Feruz - in the event of his deportation to Uzbekistan he may face very serious problems, up to imprisonment or even death. The journalist's mother, Zoya Nurmatova, also asked the Russian head of state for help. In reply, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin knew about this case as one repeatedly highlighted by migration and other authorities, but that “the situation is too complex to allow us to turn a blind eye to a number of violations that have been committed”.

The Human Rights Council under the RF President have spoken out in defence of Ali Feruz, noting that the journalist's deportation would be against the Russian constitution because he has relatives in this country. International organization including Reporters sans frontières, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have followed suit by calling on the Russian authorities to reverse the decision on Feruz' expulsion to Uzbekistan because “he may be subject to torture” or “his life may be fatally endangered” in that country.

Defence lawyer Kirill Koroteyev, who is representing the journalist's interests, told Interfax on August 4 that the European Court of Human Rights had taken urgent steps to ban Feruz' any displacement pending its decision on his complaint to the ECHR.

The GDF will closely follow further developments.


Action in support of journalist Ali Feruz held in Murmansk

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

A single-person picketing action took place outside the Interior Ministry and FSB headquarters in Murmansk from 2 to 3 p.m. on August 3, with civil activist Tatyana Kulbakina expressing her support for Novaya Gazeta journalist Ali Feruz detained in Moscow. She was holding a placard calling for Feruz' release and featuring barbed wire being cut with cutting pliers.

“A court has ruled to have Ali Feruz deported to Uzbekistan, thereby actually condemning him to torture, prison and, most likely, death,” the activist said. “Russia isn't giving him shelter, isn't letting him move to another country, and is actually allowing others to kill him before our eyes. I am against Feruz' deportation and I support his immediate release. Hold on, Ali, we're with you!”

Former editor charged with embezzlement in Rostov Region

By Anna Lebedeva, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Matveyevo-Kurgan court is hearing the criminal case against Lyudmila Shilenko, ex-editor of the district newspaper Rodnik, charged with embezzling 17,000 roubles (approx. $280).

After a 9-month investigation, she was accused under Criminal Code Article 160 (“Misappropriation or embezzlement”). According to the official version, she took over 17,000 roubles from the cash box between January 1 and December 31, 2015 to pay for the mobile phones, the purchase of shop paper, and the provision of legal services.

As to the paper, a lot of it was expended indeed - the tiny media outlet at the time came under a torrent of inspections by all thinkable authorities: with Shilenko at the wheel (for only 17 months), the newspaper went through eleven (sic!) check-ups, all resulting in not a single reprimand made to the editor but each commission demanding Xerox copies of all the documents.

Newsprint was spent in even greater volumes: as it turned out, the previous director had not published any supplement to Rodnik, which is an official bulletin highlighting documents adopted by the district administration. He had been lucky to get away with that, leaving behind all his debts for the new editor to return: publish the unprinted old documents, and even pay off the unpaid salaries to the staff. The 2.5 million-rouble indebtedness was offset through the team members' enthusiastic work and a very rigid budget regime: Shilenko the editor received only 14,000 roubles a month, and the reporters even less - 8,000 roubles per person. Since telecom providers, too, had stopped providing services in view of the debts, the staffers worked using their own modems and cell phones; that caused the director to issue an order on reimbursing them for their Internet service expenses.

That telecom money is now listed as stolen - and not from the self-sustained organisation's cash box but from the district budget; district leader Alexander Rudkovsky has been testifying in court as a witness trying to prove that the 17,500 roubles in question were taken from the meagre subsidy provided by the district authorities in support of their newspaper.

Why the district head is picking on the editor is a separate, pretty tangled story about “the little house built by an unknown architect” - the newspaper's toilet or, to be more exact, the land it stands on: the inner yard, with no capacity to flush filth away into a central sewer which is absent in Matveyevo-Kurgan. According to some sources, that tiny piece of land has been offered to some “insider” planning to build on it; the editor attempted to find out to whom it had been given and why. Her current problems are a direct consequence of her investigative zeal as a reporter, many say with a grin.

Initially, investigators suspected Shilenko of stealing 141,000 roubles, but the former editor found all the relevant documents and succeeded in proving that each payment had been legal and well-justified. The only items still viewed by the investigators as doubtful are the amounts spent on telecom and legal services.

Virtually the entire staff - 7 persons - resigned together with Shilenko early in 2016 because they felt they could no longer work normally with one inspection coming after another. Journalists, supported by printing and accounting workers, asked a court of law to help them recover their unpaid salaries.

“It was after we lodged lawsuits against the district administration that criminal proceedings were started against me,” Lyudmila Shilenko said. “Investigators questioned me right in the hospital ward where I'd been brought with a severe heart attack. Meanwhile, the new director/editor of Rodnik appointed in my stead (no one has stayed at the wheel at our district newspaper for long), together with the newly-hired team of workers, had accumulated new debts”.

As the hearing of arguments began at the Matveyevo-Kurgan court, a support group led by Rostov Union of Journalists chairwoman Vera Yuzhanskaya arrived along with a cameraman to express solidarity with Shilenko. The GDF will inform the readers how that amazing trial ended.

Journalist succeeds in defending her good name in court in Stavropol Region

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

The city court in Zheleznovodsk, Stavropol Region, has acknowledged the untrue character of information meant to spoil journalist Yelena Suslova's reputation.

As we reported in digest 795 dated 27 March 2017, Suslova had filed a lawsuit in defence of her honour and dignity against Elina Grigoryan (см. gdf.ru), claiming moral damage compensation from the defendant.

In January this year, Suslova published in the online version of the newspaper Novyye Izvestia an article based on information gathered by the DisserNet Free Network Community which struggles to prevent falsifications in the science sphere. The group of “antiheroes” included Elina Grigoryan, director of a private office feeding off a university; the office calls itself the Development Professional Centre for Training and Retraining Specialists. Grigoryan wrote a complaint about her honour, dignity and business reputation having allegedly been damaged, but for some reason sent the document not to a court of law (as the critical publication's title would apparently require) but to the governor, chairman of the City Duma of Pyatigorsk, head of the Pyatigorsk branch of the Russian Union of Journalists, as well as to the website of the newspaper Otkrytaya Gazeta, Yelena Suslova's employer which had never, though, published the controversial article.

Claiming hurt, Grigoryan demanded an evaluation of Suslova as a journalist “widely known for her scandalous reputation”. Also, she hinted that DisserNet was evidently financed by the U.S. Department of State, and commented a propos on the professional prizes awarded to Yelena in different years; in her view, the journalist should be ashamed of getting them - specifically, the Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.

About herself, Grigoryan wrote she had graduated with flying colours from an academy where she was received a presidential scholarship, and had defended two dissertations. Yet her page-and-a-half-long complaint featured, by Yelena Suslova's estimate, at least 25 (sic!) mistakes in grammar and style, revealing an according scientific level of a lady claiming to upgrade the skills of persons with a higher education!

Suslova lodged a claim in defence of honour and dignity against Grigoryan, and Judge G. Voloshenko of the Zheleznovodsk city court declared the content of Grigoryan's letter not true to fact and smearing. Hopefully, the moral damage amount payable to the journalist will cool down the squealer's zeal.

Elina Grigoryan is not the sole one to be caught red-handed at snitching. Another is Irina Ayro (Andreyeva), a professor at the Pyatigorsk Institute of Medicine and Pharmaceutics who, too, was mentioned in Suslova's article. Ayro's report, likewise sent to several addressees including the regional Union of Journalists, clearly displays the author's willingness to ruin the journalist's dignity and trample it under foot. Yet Yelena Suslova has decided she will not let anyone treat her like that, because her dignity is based on difficult and dangerous journalistic work. That is why she is currently preparing another lawsuit expected to protect her honour and dignity.

Pochta Rossii's amicable settlement with newspaper Zvezda to last until 1 September

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The Perm Region Arbitration Court on 31 July upheld an amicable settlement between the federal postal service Pochta Rossii (plaintiff) and the newspaper Zvezda (defendant), whereby Pochta agreed to reduce its claimed amount by 90,000 roubles to be able to collect in two installments the 500,000 roubles due to it from Zvezda.

The GDF has already reported about the difficult financial position Perm's oldest newspaper is finding itself in: a media outlet that is marking its centenary soon has been compelled to defend in court against its own journalists who hope to recover their unpaid wages and parental benefits. Pochta has been trying to get back its money with the help of the arbitration court since 5 May. By signing the amicable settlement on July 31, Zvezda undertook to pay 250,000 roubles before August 1 and as much (plus judicial costs) before September 1. Otherwise the plaintiff will be entitled to request a writ of execution for the use of coercive measures.

The newspaper Zvezda is controlled by State Duma MP Dmitry Skrivanov, who represents the ruling United Russia Party. Other companies under his control have already got a reputation for not always honouring existing amicable agreements.


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

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 3 (Alexei Nazimov, chief editor, newspaper Tvoya Gazeta, Crimea; Anver Yumagulov, editor, Lichnoye Mneniye news portal, Ufa; Vesti film crew, Moscow Region)

Instances of censorship - 1 (regional government press service, Perm)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist - 1 (Dmitry Skorobutov, chief editor, Vesti TV show, Moscow)

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) - 8 (Vladimir Zadumin, freelance photographer, Sverdlovsk Region; Alexei Trunov, blogger, Petrozavodsk; Alexander Batmatov, anchorman, NKO TV News show, Volgograd; Dmitry Andreyanov, ORT correspondent, Rostov Region; Idris Yusupov, journalist, Novoye Delo publication, Makhachkala; Pavel Dmitriyev, chief editor, MK vo Pskove newspaper, detained in Pskov Region; Pavel Nikulin and Yuliana Lizer, Moloko-Plus magazine correspondents, Moscow; Leonid Makarov, freelance photographer, Yekaterinburg)

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 5 (EAOMedia news agency, Jewish Autonomous Region; Radio FM Birobijan, Jewish Autonomous Region; Rinat Sagdiyev, journalist, newspaper Vedomosti, Moscow; Viktor Shaternikov, blogger, Stavropol Region - twice)

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.) - 15

Closure of media - 2 (print version, The Moscow Times, Moscow; print version, newspaper Prizyv, Vladimir)

Interference with Internet publications - 1 (website of Free Ingria Movement, Leningrad Region)

Damage to photo, audio and video apparatus and computers - 3 (computers of Abireg business news agency, Voronezh; phone of Maxim Kurnikov, chief editor, Orenburg office of Ekho Moskvy radio station, Orenburg; photo camera of Leonid Makarov, freelance photographer, Yekaterinburg)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 35


Svobodnoye Slovo (Free Word) Association demands halting deportation of journalist Khudoberdy Nurmatov

We, members of the Free Word Association, hereby demand stopping the process of deportation of journalist Khudoberdy Nurmatov and reconsidering the decision on his expulsion to Uzbekistan where his freedom and life are under threat.

The very fact of such threat is a sufficient reason for reversing the deportation decision. Besides, Khudoberdy Nurmatov has every reason to request Russian citizenship because his parents are citizens of Russia, he went to school in this country and for many years lived on the territory of Russia where he worked and paid taxes.

A formal barrier to filing such a request and a formal reason for his deportation is his not having an Uzbek passport. Khudoberdy Nurmatov cannot restore his passport precisely because he fears entering Uzbekistan and even the Russian embassy premises, while without such a document he is unable either to request a Russian passport or move to another country in search of shelter.

We believe that in the given situation, humaneness, international law and the laws of Russia (including one on the granting of Russian citizenship to citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States and persons without citizenship) prompt the natural solution: to recognize Khudoberdy Nurmatov as a person without citizenship and issue for him the relevant documents and a temporary residence permit, thereby giving him the opportunity to apply for Russian citizenship or get a refugee's status in a third country.

Signed by:

Nadezhda Azhikhina

Maxim Amelin

Marina Aromshtam

Alexander Arkhangelsky

Dmitry Bavilsky

Nune Barsegyan

Leonid Bakhnov

Mikhail Berg

Tatyana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Marina Boroditskaya

Alla Bossart

Olga Varshaver

Marina Vishnevetskaya

Vladimir Voinovich

Andrei Volos

Sergei Gandlevsky

Alisa Ganiyeva

Alexander Gelman

Kristina Gorelik

Varvara Gornnostayeva

Mark Grinberg

Natalya Gromova

Olga Gromova

Natalia Dyomina

Vitaly Dixon

Oleg Dorman

Denis Dragunsky

Olga Drobot

Viktor Yesipov

Georgy Yefremov

Natalya Ivanova

Victoria Ivleva

Igor Irtenyev

Pavel Katayev

Nikolai Kononov

Sergei Kostyrko

Irina Kravtsova

Gennady Krasukhin

Yevgenia Lavut

Irina Levontina

Natalya Mavlevich

Alexei Motorov

Olga Miaeots

Pavel Nerler

Anton Nechayev

Leonid Nikinitsky

Maxim Osipov

Andrei Plakhov

Nikolai Podosokorsky

Maria Rybakova

Zoya Svetova

Alexei Simonov

Alexei Slapovsky

Boris Sokolov

Vladimir Sotnikov

Tatyana Sotnikova (Anna Bersenyova)

Irina Staf

Sergei Stratanovsky

Lyubov Summ

Lev Timofeyev

Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Maria Falikman

Yelena Fanailova

Igor Kharichev

Alexei Tsvetkov

Natalya Chepik

Tatyana Chernysheva

Alla Shevelkina

Tatyana Shcherbina

Joined by:

Alexander Genis

Alexander Furman

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

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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:
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