13 Июня 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 804

29 May 2017


Local newspaper editor killed in Krasnoyarsk Region

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The Investigative Committee Department for the Krasnoyarsk Region said Ton-M chief editor Dmitry Popkov, 42, was found shot dead near his home on 24 May. Criminal proceedings were instituted over murder. Police are looking into the journalist's professional activity as a possible motive of the crime.

Founded three years ago, the newspaper Ton-M has a print run of 12,000 to 15,000 and is circulated in Minusinsk and its neighbourhoods. It has practised a critical approach to the work of municipal and regional authorities and law enforcement bodies. The Kommersant newspaper reported that over a brief span of Ton-M existence, it was repeatedly challenged in legal actions over alleged defamation and damage to business name. The plaintiffs never won a single case, however.

Ton-M weekly's motto is “We Write on What Others Are Silent”. Kommersant sources said the editor-in-chief had been threatened many times. On 24 May afternoon, he put the newspaper to bed and in the evening, he invited his friends to the sauna on his land plot where he had been building a house. When the guests came out of the steam room they saw Dmitry Popkov lying in a pool of blood. Forensic experts found nine gunshot wounds on his body.


Attack on journalists does give rise to criminal proceedings in Yekaterinburg

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

On 24 May, Yekaterinburg's Ordzhonikidze District Court Judge Anna Ivanova took measures to stop the sabotage of legal proceedings by the defendants in the case over the attack on Yermak television journalists at the AvtoMaster car care centre (see Digest 762 and Digest 795). On that day, Konstantin Lushchikov, one of the defendants, was rushed to hospital from the courtroom. However, the young man was promptly brought back as the medics had certified him fit to stand the trial.

Following the incident, the prosecutor asked the judge to change pre-trial restrictions for Lushchikov from recognizance to arrest. Previously, the injured parties' lawyers complained that the beginning of trial had been postponed three times. At first, Konstantin and his father Boris Lushchikov replaced their lawyer. Then the lawyer told the court he was unable to attend the trial because of his illness. In the latest incident, Lushchikov Jr absented himself from hearing saying he was ill. The judge met the prosecutor's petition.

Boris Lushchikov and his son Konstantin are in the prisoners' dock on charges of obstructing legitimate professional activity of journalists, using violence on journalists, damaging their property, causing bodily injury and committing theft.

The incident involving the Lushchikovs and Yermak journalists occurred on 28 July 2016. The reporters came to a car care centre to film a story about the Lushchikovs' conflict with lawyer Ivan Volkov. When Yermak staff began a video recording, car centre personnel seized their camera and hid it, and then beat up the correspondent, the cameraman, and lawyer Volkov. The attackers broke Volkov's finger and caused property damage to Yermak journalists to the tune of 979,000 roubles.

The attackers will have to answer for their crime despite deliberate trial delays.

The GDF will follow up on the story.

Supreme Court to review case of Rostov journalist

By Roman Zholud, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

The criminal case against journalist Elena Nadtoka, found guilty of insult, will go for retrial following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

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 policy of the then city mayor. The author's article referred to him as a “thievish Altai guy”. The Novocherkassk mayor sued Nadtoka for insult (which was a criminal offence at that time) with a magistrate court. Nadtoka, as the newspaper's acting editor-in-chief, became the defendant.

Although a linguistic analysis had found no insulting words in the text, the court passed a guilty verdict on Elena Nadtoka and fined her 50,000 roubles. The higher courts did not grant her appeals and she complained to the ECHR where she was represented by Media Defence Centre director and leading lawyer Galina Arapova.

On 31 May, 2016, the ECHR found a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression) in the Nadtoka vs. Russian Federation case. The journalist was awarded a 4,000-euro damages compensation. Media Defence Centre lawyer Tumas Misakyan, who represented the journalist's interests, requested the Supreme Court to overturn Nadtoka's verdict.

The Supreme Court presidium will meet for repeat review of the journalist's case at 15 Povarskaya Street, Moscow, at 9:30 on 31 May.

Perm court equates bank arrear with state secret

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Perm's Lenin District Court Judge Olga Korotayeva ejected journalists from a hearing of Raiffeisenbank claim against Irina Malygina, Region developer company director general and founder who had managed the notorious First Perm Neighbourhood project.

According to the GAS Pravosudiye database that pools information from general jurisdiction courts, open hearings of the case began on 7 November 2016. The defendant did not make an appearance at the first session and at the subsequent hearing on 23 January 2017. Judge Korotayeva passed a ruling in absentia to recover the 375,000-dollar loan which the defendant took in 2008 and foreclose her 139.9-square metre apartment in Perm's historical centre for sale at a public auction at 12,066,125.01 roubles.

At the open hearing on 14 April 2017, Malygina told the court she had been away on a business trip and this legitimate excuse enabled her to have the earlier in-absentia ruling overturned. Oddly, the court started the next session on 25 May by questioning your GDF correspondent. Judge Korotayeva demanded that the correspondent show his passport and state his birthdate and birthplace. The correspondent reminded the judge that Article 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure did not provide for such measures with respect to citizens attending the hearing if they were not plaintiffs, defendants, third persons, witnesses, experts, specialists or translators working on the case.

“Are you refusing?” came an ominous query from the robed woman who seemed nice-looking at first glance. Then she insisted that the journalist identify himself and divulge his personal data although it was protected by federal law. As the judge heard the journalist's reply, she said, “Your rights have not been abused,” speaking in a tone as if she was amnestying him.

In revenge for the journalist's presuming to publicly teach her open trial rules, the judge met the defendant's petition to hear the case in camera. Malygina requested to eject the journalist citing the personal data protection law. She insisted that the sum of debt owed to the bank was sensitive information.

Article 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure says that trials in camera are for the cases containing state secrets, child adoption data or some other confidential information if envisioned by federal laws. The overturned 23 January in-absentia decision on recovering Malygina's debt to the bank appeared on the Pravosudiye (Justice) database website. The documents detailed the obligations on which the defendant had defaulted and the bank demands. Judge Korotayeva cited the federal law “On the provision of access to information on the activities of courts in the Russian Federation” and Council of Judges Resolution No. 253 dated 27 September 2011 which set the procedure for placing information on the official website.

She apparently overstepped her authority by questioning the journalist and making him disclose his personal data. Furthermore, she ignored public interests by classifying Malygina's debt details. Three hundred cheated First Perm Neighbourhood investors have the right to know about the morals of the project manager who had failed to deliver apartments to them and pay her debt to the bank.

Perm defendant on claims worth 1.5 billion roubles delivers an ultimatum to media

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

Region company Director General Irina Malgina did not like the popular PermNews portal's remarks. Having seen her name in a PermNews article, the business lady e-mailed an ultimatum to the media outlet.

Her message dated 6 April demanded that editors “correct the article which named me as the developer and other facts on which you have no confirmed information”. (quoted from the sender's original text). The next line looked like a threat: “If the information is not corrected within 24 hours, I'll lodge formal complaints and a claim”. The third, final line of her message read, “If you wish to talk about PPM (First Perm Neighbourhood), write to my e-mail to receive official answers”.

Some three hundred families who had invested in the project said they had been cheated. The developer failed to deliver on her promise to commission the apartment house in the third quarter of 2015. The would-be tenants had to put aside their moving-in plans. The investors who had claimed fraud repeatedly staged pickets and other actions and even sent a video message to the Russian president in 2016. On 10 April 2017, the investors' activists had a meeting with acting Perm Region Governor Maxim Reshetnikov in a bid to enlist state support to their cause.

Police have been investigating grand fraud in the PPM project since 29 July 2016. According to Perm's Motovilikhinsky District Court statement dated 30 September 2016, “the investigators found that the fraud scheme might have involved KamStroiInvest and Region companies' executives in the person of Alexei Lobanov and Irina Malygina..”.

The story received media coverage. PermNews reported that the Perm Region Court, in an open hearing on 6 December 2016, overturned the Motovilikhinsky District Court's resolution on arresting Malygina's apartment. The news portal then reported that Perm's Sverdlovsky District Court began a new public hearing of the case on 21 March 2017. Malygina and Lobanov are among the nine defendants. The receivership manager appointed by the Moscow-based BFG-Credit asked the court to recover more than 1.49 billion roubles from the PPM developers (who had taken two loans in 2013-2014) and make them jointly liable. The borrowers are listed as the KamstroiInvest and Region companies. Lobanov and Malygina are among the loan guarantors. The business lady sent an ultimatum to the media following the publication of the PermNews report on 6 April.

The PermNews article merely reported the decision by the Perm Region Court of Arbitration on issuing a copy of the writ of execution to recover 6.4 million roubles from Malygina. The decision was announced at a public hearing, This sum amounts to the losses caused to the Perm Region Ipoteka company by former director general Malygina when she signed a confidentiality statement on a 27-year seven-million-rouble mortgage for Lobanov.

Responding to the ultimatum, PermNews editor-in-chief Elena Fadeyeva published more news on 11 April. On the same day, Perm's Leninsky District Court cancelled its in-absentia ruling on Malygina dated 23 January 2017. The court set the date for repeat review of Raiffeisenbank's demand on 16 May. The bank had been seeking recovery of the loan Malygina took in 2008 and default charges worth 375,000 U.S. dollars, as well as her apartment foreclosure for subsequent sale at an auction. The property in question is the 139.9-square-meter apartment in Perm's historical centre which police tried to impound in 2016.

On 12 April, Malygina came to the editorial office to hand in a new claim, Fadeyeva said. The text of the claim opens with a reference to Article 137 of Russia's Criminal Code and ends with this threat: “Delete the material concerning Irina Malygina as well as all links to related materials. In case of non-compliance I reserve the right to take my case to prosecutors and judicial bodies”.

Regional authorities in Khabarovsk privatise “Golden Pen” contest

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Khabarovsk hosted the first regional media forum Territory of Dialogue on 25 May.

Journalist Vladimir Ivanov-Ardashev, speaking at the “round table” discussion which addressed the present and future of print media, broke the news that “the local professional journalistic community was locked out of the Golden Pen Contest”. This surprised the secretaries of the Russian Union of Journalists who had come to the forum from Moscow.

The lockout occurred as a result of amendments to Khabarovsk governor resolution of 18 December 2012 which provided for participation in the contest under the auspices of the regional Union of Journalists (candidates are nominated upon recommendations by editorial office staff or the regional Union of Journalists).

“At present, the Union of Journalists has lost the opportunity to participate in the regional contest,” Ivanov-Ardashev said. The relevant provision was removed by Khabarovsk Region governor resolution No 67 of 14 June 2016. The Public Council under the regional government Committee for the Press and Mass Communications refused to consider the regional Union of Journalists' request to rectify the document.

Russian Union of Journalist Executive Secretary Denis Tokarsky and Secretary Rafael Guseinov promised to report the Golden Pen contest situation in the Khabarovsk Region to the Union's chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov.

GDF will monitor the situation.

Bus driver in Vladivostok sentenced to suspended prison term for meddling in reporter's professional work

By Vladimir Dymov, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

In January 2017, a bus driver tried to stop a Vladivostok television and radio company camera crew from taking footage. He kept pushing away the cameraman and reaching for the equipment. The journalists were on a mission to check drivers' conduct, in particular their compliance with public transport anti-smoking rules, following passengers' complaints. After the incident the driver was detained and later reprimanded. The Investigative Committee looked into the conflict.

On 23 May, Vladivostok's Frunze District Court found the driver guilty under Article 144 of Russia's Criminal Code (“Obstruction of legitimate professional activity of journalists by forcing them not to disseminate information, accompanied by violence on journalist or threats to use violence”). The offence was committed in January 2017 at the Semyonovskaya public transport stop when the driver used violence on the journalists in an attempt to stop them from filming him, the court said.

The driver pleaded guilty to the charges and said he had regretted his actions. The court gave him a one year suspended sentence with two-year probation (taking into account his confession and resultant special procedure trial, as well as the fact that he had three children to support).


District newspapers in Karelia have readership, yet are unprofitable

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

Karelia newspapers are ubiquitously cash-strapped with rare exceptions. While the financial position of five of the 17 district newspapers raises no concerns, the rest have been balancing on the edge of bankruptcy. Advertisement revenue is not large as a rule, and state funding is meagre.

District newspapers, by the form of business, are municipal unitary enterprises founded by local administrations. Having a dismal financial position, regional budgets can do little to help out the municipal editorial offices, so municipal authorities often incorporate them into district libraries to keep them afloat with minimum support. Though it is still a pilot model, local officials use it at a last resort in crises.

Specifically, municipal newspaper staff is represented in two capacities. As a municipal enterprise, the newspaper is controlled by local administration, but as a mass media outlet, it has several founders who determine the editorial policy in accordance with the newspaper charter. Founders might include district authorities, the regional news agency representing Karelia's government and, in certain cases, editorial office staff whose involvement seems to shrink every time the charter is updated. District newspapers' chief editors concurrently hold the positions of directors of the same-name municipal enterprises. This double status makes them hostages to municipal officials, where any disagreement with the district administration head is fraught with losing one's job. In such cases, officials don't even have to bother to explain their reasons for the dismissal. The district administration head fires the director of a municipal enterprise, not the newspaper editor. Everybody is aware though that the editor's dismissal will follow soon thereafter. Karelia has seen quite a few such cases in recent years.

District newspapers still enjoy their readers' trust and their print runs do not decrease. Their web resources are developing slowly though: editors-in-chief say they fear that their readers will give up print media for free information on the Internet. Analysis shows that middle-aged and elderly people make up the bulk of district newspapers' readership and that they cannot be viewed as active Internet users.


Moscow Open Human Rights School under Sakharov Centre to host lecture by Galina Arapova in Moscow

Galina Arapova will deliver a lecture on “Freedom of Expression. Practice and Law Enforcement” at the Moscow Open Human Rights School under Sakharov Centre at 19:00 on 30 May.

What is freedom of expression and why do we need it?

We all know this phrase but many are not sure about its meaning. The term “media rights” is even less well-known. What place does freedom of expression have among other human rights? Is freedom of expression limitless? If it isn't, what limits are permissible and which are most often used by the state to avoid unpopular or critical statements? Slander, extremism, website blocking...

Galina Arapova, the Media Rights Defence Centre director and its leading lawyer, will clarify all these issues at her lecture on 30 May.

The Voronezh-based centre has provided legal support and defence of journalists, media editorial offices and bloggers across Russia for 21 years. Every day, Centre lawyers are engaged in more than 100 legal cases, 90 percent of which are won by journalists. They also provide more than 4,500 legal consultations daily. In 2016, Galina Arapova became the first Russian laureate of the International Bar Association Award “For outstanding contribution by a legal practitioner to human rights”.

Media Rights Defence Centre website: www.mmdc.ru

Register for the lecture: sakharovcenter.timepad.ru

Sakharov Centre address: 57 Zemlyanoi Val, Bldg. 6

Tel. 8 (495) 623-4115, 623-4401

E-mail: secretary@sakharov-center.ru

Web: www.sakharov-center.ru

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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