14 Марта 2014 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 651

11 March 2014



New press freedom-restricting bill under consideration in State Duma

The RF State Duma is reviewing yet another bill designed to make the Russian media’s work “more orderly”, news reports said last week. Specifically, the newspaper Izvestia said that yet another MP representing the United Russia party – Yevgeny Fyodorov – decided to contribute “in a big way” to the effort of “bettering” the national press by suggesting that those responsible for the release of “anti-Russian publications” should bear administrative as well as criminal liability.

Also, Fyodorov suggested expanding the list of anti-state and anti-government offences to include “media’s deliberate lying to the audiences as a way of supporting terrorism, interventionism, separatism or genocide”.

To substantiate his initiative, he referred to what he called “publications drawing fallacious historical analogies” with the events in Ukraine.

As one “deliberate lie to the audiences”, he cited a news report that said, “As a result of the coup d’etat in Ukraine… a usurper has appeared (the acting Ukrainian president)”.

“There’s no such position, officially,” Izvestia cited Fyodorov as saying. “But the media outlet’s attempt to present the ‘usurper’s’ decisions as those of the Ukrainian state was a deliberate lie… Hence the question: is this foolishness or conscientious aiding to anti-state offenders? It will be up to the investigators to find this out.”

As a kind of consolation, Fyodorov – a co-author of the notorious “foreign agents” act – noted, “It won’t be rank-and-file journalists, it’ll be the media managers and editors allowing [‘harmful’] publications who will be held liable.”

Yet a number of questions remain. Who will decide if there was “a lie” at all, how “deliberate” it was, and what the term “deceitful anti-Russian information” means as such. What evaluation criteria will be employed? And who will be involved as experts?

From whatever angle one looks at it, the bill on anti-Russian publications is clearly a new attempt to gag anyone providing what the authorities see as “wrongful” coverage of the events.


Isn’t it high time the State Duma reviewed its approach to lawmaking, stopped writing prohibitive laws and started writing those explaining what is legally allowable? That would make our life much simpler…



Mayor of Kostomuksha, Karelia, shirks meeting with reporter

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

Tasked by the editor to approach Kostomuksha Mayor Aleksandr Lokhno to have him reply to some of the many questions sent in by readers, a reporter for the local newspaper 64 Parallel asked the city head for an appointment – only to be told he had “no moral right” to ask for it, since “your newspaper provides biased coverage of the municipal administration’s activities”. The message was that the mayor didn’t care much about local residents’ dissatisfaction with his team’s and his own performance.

Significantly, the reporter was not asking for a private conversation with Lokhno; he had an editorial assignment to carry out, of which he had notified the mayor’s office in advance. In such a situation, a public executive cannot refuse an interview to a media outlet only because he happens to dislike its reporting style. If he thinks a newspaper distorts the reality, there is a legal way to have the matter out with it – through a court of law.

Actually, Lokhno as a public official deliberately declined to provide information about his work to 64 Parallel, which might be seen as an instance of legally punishable interference with journalists’ professional activity. The newspaper, though, decided against suing the mayor; it found a way to gather the readership-requested information from sources other than the city head in person.

Unfortunately, this is not for the first time that municipal officials in Kostomuksha shock the journalists by inadequate treatment of the press. Last autumn, for example, the-then acting mayor, Tatyana Osipova, interrupted a city council session by starting to discuss whether or not a journalist was entitled to use a camera inside the council building. The reporter was allowed to stay in the conference room after all, but the subject matter of the conflict was serious indeed, signalling an attempt to deter a media reporter from covering an open (sic!) council sitting. No less appalling was the mayor’s office’s oral orders to the municipal organisations and institutions not to share any information with the newspaper 64 Parallel and its online version. Of course, the journalists have been finding roundabout ways to gather information of interest to the city residents, but the very principle of municipal power’s non-transparency to the press shows there are serious problems with glasnost in Kostomuksha.

Court in Omsk requires blogger to disclaim his critical statements and pay fine

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Kuibyshevsky district court in Omsk has required Sergei Selivanov, a blogger and leader of the For Our Rights movement, to disclaim a number of assertions and suppositions regarding the city police that he published in his LiveJournal blog, and to pay 23,000 roubles in fine.

All the web postings challenged by the plaintiffs were about the murder of Ivan Klimov, a member of the national boxing team who was stabbed to death in broad daylight on 23 November 2013. Neither the investigators nor the public doubt the fact it was a pre-ordered murder carried out by a hired professional killer: the two stab wounds Klimov died of were surgically precise and accurate.

Eight months prior to that, Klimov had had a night-club conflict with Ian Lebedov, son of a local “Gypsy drug baron”, as the man is usually dubbed in the media. A security camera video was circulated online at the time, featuring a man looking like Lebedov taking a traumatic rifle out of the trunk, waiting for Klimov to walk out of the night club, and gunning him down in front of numerous eyewitnesses and security guards, none of whom attempted either to prevent the shooting or detain the rifleman. Klimov had survived that time, while Lebedov had vanished from law enforcement’s field of view. Although putting him on the federal wanted list, police, it seems, had not bothered much to look for him: as became known recently, the runaway Lebedov had moved from town to town, appearing almost daily on his web page in the VKontakte social network, where his cell phone number was displayed.

It was about the potential link between those two cases – the traumatic rifle shooting and Klimov’s subsequent killing – that Selivanov wrote in his web postings. He believes there are serious reasons for linking the two episodes together: a source has informed him that the Gypsy community had paid big sums of money to law enforcers for Lebedov’s protection for six months before it stopped paying, finding the rate inordinately high.

Vexed by those revelations, Omsk police turned to the district court to lodge a legal claim against Selivanov. During a hearing the defendant suddenly felt sick, but Judge Andrei Chekurda did not find that to be a reason for interrupting the court sitting. An ambulance arrived, diagnosing Selivanov as having a hypertension stroke. Even that did not deter the judge from continuing the case hearings the following morning and from passing a decision in the absence of the defendant, who was clearly having health problems.

The court required the critical blogger to disclaim not only his own words but also those of outsiders, such as Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman – about no drug trade ever being possible “without law enforcement’s protection” – that he cited in his blog. Once I’ve published a disclaimer, Mr Roizman may himself have reasons to lodge a legal claim – against Judge Chekurda – for a gross distortion of his message, Selivanov noted in an interview for the GDF.

Stavropol Governor holds the public at arm’s length

By Olga Vassilyeva, GDF correspondent in North Caucasian Federal District

“An event held behind closed doors,” independent media have said about a recent meeting of Stavropol Region Governor Vladimir Vladimirov with representatives of the regional public. Gubernatorial officials did everything for “awkward” questions, requests and suggestions not to be voiced at all: they chose as the venue a fairly small office within the municipal headquarters and invited only reporters from the governor’s press pool along with “strictly loyal” activists. The entrance was guarded by Cossacks, who shooed “outsiders” away.

In response to protests from those who were not admitted, the organisers said the governor himself had chosen this format of communication with the public.

Mr Vladimirov, appointed by President Putin to act as Stavropol governor until the next official election, has produced a frustrating impression on the regional residents. During his five months at the helm, he has consistently refused to meet with the leaders of local non-parliamentary parties or participate in public-proposed roundtables or in news conferences attended by the “inconvenient” press. Nor has he been available during his visits to the districts: local officials have kept the entrances of the district administration headquarters closed to the public, while ushering the governor in through the back door.

Suspected offender claims 10 million roubles in moral damages from broadcaster

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District, reporting from Urals

The Muravlenko city court in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District has accepted an honour, dignity and business reputation protection claim from a local resident, Ruslan Bokovikov. The defendant is Muravlenko TV, the local TV and radio company, which reported in its Grani Zakona (Facets of Law) show on 22 November 2013 that, “as established, Bokovikov committed a rape”.

It is this phrase, “as established”, which prompted the lodging of the claim: the plaintiff insists that only a court of law can establish whether he is a criminal offender or not, while no trial has taken place so far.

Although the “untrue and smearing” announcement about him being a rapist was made by a law enforcement officer speaking live on TV, Bokovikov asked the court to involve the district prosecutor’s office in the judicial proceedings only as a third party, because all his claims are against Muravlenko TV alone. He wants the broadcaster to apologise to him live on the air, disclaim its statement and pay him 10 million roubles in moral damages.

Court to pass judgment on what prosecutors see as extremist publication

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The Perm Region prosecutor’s office has asked a court of law to pronounce the newspaper Zvezda’s 19 July 2013 article “A Fit of Hysteria, Pugachev-Style” an extremist publication, and to authorise the seizure of the undistributed part of that issue’s print run.

As reported in digest 621, the local FSB department started criminal proceedings in the wake of that publication, which in its view contained public calls via the media for acts of extremism (an offence punishable under Criminal Code Article 280.2). The author, Roman Yushkov, an assistant professor with a Candidate of Sciences’ degree in geography, commented on a tragedy in the city of Pugachev, Saratov Region, resulting in local resident Ruslan Marzhanov’s killing by a group of North Caucasians, and suggested that the Russians should exercise their “sacred right of revenge” in defending their vital interests.

A statement filed with the Motovilikhinsky district court in Perm by the regional deputy prosecutor, Aleksandr Deryshov, helps to trace down the chronology of events. On 24 July, the scientific and consultative council at the regional department of Roskomnadzor [federal service overseeing the sphere of public communications] decided to submit the publication, together with its own conclusions, to the prosecutor’s office. On 26 July, Viktor Bevkh, a senior aide to the regional prosecutor, wrote a “report on a suspected pro-extremist action”, based on which the materials were forwarded to the FSB “for deciding whether or not criminal proceedings should be started”.

Senior Investigator Vodyanenko did start such proceedings on 29 July, ordering two expert studies – a linguistic and a psychological-linguistic – to be held two days later. The studies were carried out, respectively, by the FSB Special Technology Institute in Moscow and the Justice Ministry’s Urals Region Forensic Studies Centre in Yekaterinburg. Yushkov was questioned as a witness on 20 August, acknowledging, “The purpose of the article was to draw public attention to the criminal outrage committed by North Caucasians in Russia. In the publication ‘A Fit of Hysteria, Pugachev-Style’, I did not call for any acts of extremism – I just described the results of my analysis of the situation.”

The potential suspect’s testimony, though, was neglected by the experts. Philologist Anna Plotnikova and psychologist Aleksandra Krichker from the Urals Forensic Studies Centre on 30 September concluded that the newspaper article called for ousting all the Chechens from Russia, and that the author “resorted to linguistic and psychological tricks to propagandise the alleged inferiority” of the Chechens and other North Caucasian people. Yulia Kabykina, a Moscow-based linguist, additionally stated on 23 December that the publication “justified the use of violence against representatives of a particular ethnic group, the Chechens”.

On 16 January 2014 Yuri Shchebetkov, the regional Roskomnadzor head, officially notified Sergei Trushnikov, the founder and chief editor of the newspaper Zvezda, of his being in breach of RF Media Law Article 4, which prohibits media freedom abuses. A panel of judges chaired by Marina Vyazemskaya is to finally decide on 19 March whether the article under consideration is indeed an extremist publication. Zvezda’s editorial board is studying the documents presented by the prosecutor’s office and preparing a defence statement, Trushnikov told the GDF.



Russian Journalists’ Union statement on media coverage of Ukrainian crisis

The Russian Journalists’ Union is concerned about the continuing escalation of aggression and hate speech in media coverage of the events in Ukraine. Blatant propaganda has become a routine element of TV and newspaper reports, some of which, far from informing, have only fanned inter-ethnic and other strife; this is not only at odds with the Russian Journalist’s Code of Ethics and common sense but also is punishable under the RF Criminal Code.

For several months now, the Russian media community has been discussing the ethical principles of journalists’ professional work. We call on our colleagues to remember the most important of those principles: tell and write the truth; gather and report information independently of external influence or your personal preferences; and make sure your word does not harm others. Also, we suggest establishing an internet platform for Ukrainian and Russian journalists to maintain a permanent dialogue, and we hope that no political or other collision, the less so someone’s desire to turn journalists into “ideological front” soldiers or instruments of influence, will be able to make our colleagues lose their commitment to the moral values and dignity of our profession and to free speech, or to destroy the solidarity of journalists in our two countries.



Boris Pustyntsev, 1935–2014

Boris Pavlovich Pustyntsev, a human rights defender, chairman of the St. Petersburg-based rights group “Civic Control”, a Soviet-era dissident and prisoner of conscience, died in St. Petersburg on 4 March 2014.

Boris Pustyntsev was born in Vladivostok, Far East, on 2 June 1935 into the family of a submarine designer. After his father, Pavel Putsyntsev, was appointed head of Central Design Bureau No.18 (TsKB-18) in 1951, the family moved to St. Petersburg. In 1954, Boris entered the First Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages and joined the underground youth club “Leninist Communists’ Alliance”, which was established in St. Petersburg in the autumn of 1956, uniting V. I. Trofimov, B. P. Pustyntsev, A. A. Golikov, V. A. Malykhin, I. S. Potapov and V. B. Petrov. The club’s proclaimed goal was to “fight for genuine socialism”. In November 1956, club members circulated among the students of Leningrad State University and A. I. Herzen State Pedagogical Institute leaflets headlined “Citizen Students”, “Constitution Day Forthcoming” and “Stalinism Not Yet Done Away With!”, and – as a landmark in the history of the Soviet human rights movement – leaflets protesting the Soviet Army’s incursion into Hungary to suppress the 1956 uprising there.

In 1957 Pustyntsev was arrested by the KGB along with the other group members and convicted of counter-revolutionary propaganda under Article 58.10, 11 of the-then Criminal Code; he spent the following five years in a labour camp for political prisoners. After his release in 1962, he worked as a bibliographer, a translator of technical literature, a literary editor, a writer of synchronous dub texts for the cinema, and as a dubbing-in director. In 1966 he got a degree from the Herzen Pedagogical Institute as a teacher of English. In 1960-1980, he actively participated in the dissidents’ movement in the USSR.

Pustyntsev was fired from the Lenfilm Studios in 1984, after word went round about “the KGB’s objecting to his further work in cinematography”. As Boris recollected later, that happened as the former KGB operative who had handled his case as a member of the “counter-revolutionary” youth club became “a big boss” at Lenfilm.

In 1984 – 1989, Pustyntsev worked for the Estonian movie companies Tallinfilm and EstTelefilm. In 1989 he managed to return to Lenfilm.

He was a democratic movement activist during the perestroika period and ran for the State Duma as a Choice of Russia bloc nominee in 1993, and for the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly as a Democratic Unity bloc nominee. In 1993 – 1995, he was an aide to State Duma MP Mikhail Molostvov. In 1994 – 1997, Pustyntsev was deputy chairman of the St. Petersburg branch of the Democratic Choice of Russia party, and in 1991 – 1996, co-chairman of the historical, educational and rights group “Memorial” in St. Petersburg. In 1993, he was decorated with an Order of the Officer’s Cross from Hungary.

Boris Pustyntsev was a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Control human rights public organisation, the author of numerous publications on human rights and freedoms, and in 2004 – 2012, a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights and Civil Society Development.

[Based on “Human Rights in Russia” materials]


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:
Полезная деятельность Фонда защиты гласности за 25 лет его жизни