20 Апреля 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 796

3 April 2017


Radio Liberty reporters attacked in Krasnodar Region

By Galina Tashmatova, GDF correspondent in Southern Federal District

Shortly before a new march of “polite farmers” on Moscow was due to start on 28 March from Cossack village Kazanskaya near Krasnodar, authorities began detaining its most active participants. They also attempted to neutralise some of the Russian and foreign media reporters who had arrived to cover the event.

Radio Liberty's Sergei Khazov-Kassia and Andrei Kostyanov suffered more than others. On the eve of the march, they were stopped near their hotel in the city of Kropotkin by unidentified men in masks, who sprinkled tear gas in the journalists' faces, pushed them onto the ground and proceeded to kick away at them. Taking their computers and filming equipment, the attackers fled the scene.

“Police are looking for the persons who attacked Radio Liberty reporters in Kropotkin,” regional police department spokeswoman Maria Pirogova said. “Also, they [the victims] said they'd lost their apparatus as a result of the attack, but as police officials were checking that complaint, they found the apparatus in the reporters' hotel suite”.

The journalists themselves had a different story to tell. “After we were attacked, we called the police and ambulance,” Khazov-Kassia told the Meduza news portal. “Andrei Kostyanov was taken to hospital with a broken rib. After giving evidence and the necessary explanations, I drove with police officers to the investigative department to help them make a protocol. I began telling the story in every detail, but we were suddenly interrupted and again drove to the crime scene, although it had already been examined. I thought it strange that they decided to go back to the hotel without finishing the protocol. Back in Kostyanov's hotel room, we found his knapsack with the camera, and his tripod box. My knapsack was missing. We waited for some time for a forensic expert to arrive to take my fingerprints and examine our things. As it turned out, most of them - the camera, our passports and other documents - were there, while the money and some smaller things like battery chargers were gone. Evidently, they [the attackers] had emptied our knapsacks somewhere and then had stuffed things back into one - everything was upside down in the sack”.

Since the situation with the farmers' march is heavily politicised, we are unlikely to hear the names of the attackers soon.

Mayor's office in Yekaterinburg holds the press at arm's length

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Yekaterinburg administration's press service, unwilling to share information, has fenced itself off from the press. For a whole week, UralInformBureau correspondents have been unable to receive officials' replies to simple questions. It seems the 7-strong division for work with the media must be feeling they are “two important” to speak to journalists directly.

“You may file an official inquiry by e-mail, and we will furnish a reply in a week's time. Our style of work with the media has changed, and we only respond to written inquiries now,” a press service official explained.

Yet there are topics that can be commented on instantly, without any preliminary analysis; after a week of bureaucratic procrastination they will be of no interest to the public. The mayoral spokesman did not specify how long the city administration might remain dominated by red tape.

Curiously enough, innovations in the work with the media started after the recent resignation of Denis Sukhorukov, the former press service head. Maybe things will get back to norm after a new official is appointed in his stead: until recently, the mayoral press pool worked pretty efficiently without lapsing into excessive administrative zeal.

RF Supreme Court leaves sentence to critical blogger unchanged

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The RF Supreme Court has turned down Tyumen blogger Alexei Kungurov's complaint about the ruling passed in his case by the Volga Military Court - two years in a labour camp under Criminal Code Article 205.2.1 for “public justification of extremism” (see digest 783) - a description given by a panel of judges to his article “Who Putin's Falcons Are Bombing in Real Terms”, posted in Kungurov's blog. The sentence was passed based on the findings of psychological and linguistic expert studies (the last of which was held, contrary to existing legislation, by the same agency which had opened the criminal case - the regional FSB department, though for the region of Tyumen, not Sverdlovsk).

The Supreme Court rejected all of the motions made by the defence and refused to consider arguments proving the blogger's innocence, Kungurov's defence lawyer Alexander Zyryanov told the GDF. For example, the court refused to take into account the actual distortion by experts of the meaning of the text under study - that ISIS (a group outlawed in Russia) “is not the most blood-thirsty and unruly organisation”, which they mistook for a description of the terrorist group as “absolutely harmless”, from which they deduced that the author was attempting to “justify” terrorism.

To achieve the desirable effect, the psychology expert even had to “edit” the article a bit: she read (evidently, having forgotten to put on her glasses) Kungurov's recommendation for the terrorists to “get self-utilized” as “get self-actualized”, which is the opposite of what the blogger meant.

Also, according to Zyryanov, the court refused to consider the proofs of the very event of crime by ruling not to add to the case files the air tickets showing that Kungurov had been in Astrakhan, not Tyumen, on the day the text imputed to him was posted online; this fact is additionally confirmed by a printout of the calls made to and from his cell phone that day, which list was disregarded by both courts.

FSB attempts to find material evidence failed, Zyryanov said explaining that a search of the blogger's home ended in the seizure of a notebook PC which, as it turned out later, belonged to Kungurov's wife and did not contain anything illegal, such as the article that had given rise to the criminal proceedings. Questioned by the Volga panel of judges, a staffer of the Dom.ru web portal said his company had no proofs that the controversial text had been posted from the IP address of the accused.

Lawyer Zyryanov still hopes the sentence to his client may be changed: “Upon receiving the court's declaration, we will start preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court Presidium,” he said.

As we have reported, the Memorial Human Rights Centre designated Alexei Kungurov as a political prisoner (see digest 760).

Media regulator gets down to checking Vecherniy Murmansk newspaper's website

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

Rallies against corruption were held on 26 March in many cities across Russia, including Murmansk beyond the Arctic Circle, where a modest hundred residents or so took to the streets to express their attitude to the situation in the country. A couple of days later, the evening newspaper Vecherniy Murmansk featured on its website an article titled “Bored to Death to Be Politically Correct”, whose author called protesters “idiots” and “bellicose buggers”. Quite predictably, the publication caused negative feelings on the part of both colleagues and readers. Yet a check-up by the media regulator Roskomnadzor showed that the Vecherniy Murmansk website was not a registered media outlet, and hence, not subject to restrictions imposed by the Media Law, such as a ban on the use of obscene language.

Still, the regulating authority has promised to carry out another check-up in response to readers' complaints and announce its findings in a month's time.

Glasnost helps former government official in Perm to escape detention

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

An open discussion of falsifications police has taken the liberty of getting involved in has allowed Alexander Demidov, former acting head of the state-run Motor Roads and Transport Department, accused of bribe-taking, to stay under house arrest after an appellate panel of the Perm regional court rejected on 29 March the prosecutors' appeal that the accused be placed behind bars.

This criminal case against Demidov was described in digest 795. The accused had insisted that the 22 March hearing of his case be held in the Leninsky district court of Perm behind closed doors.

The same district's prosecutor's office on 24 March challenged the house arrest chosen in respect of Demidov as an interim measure of punishment and demanded that the ex-official be transferred to a pre-trial detention centre. Demidov and his defence lawyer, Stanislav Rodiontsev, wanted the hearing to be closed to the public, but Judge Svetlana Sokolova turned down their plea and declared the sitting open.

Ksenya Mikhryukova, Leninsky district assistant prosecutor, pressed for Demidov's full-scale arrest citing a violation of the rights of Lyudmila Balandina, the landlady from whom Demidov rented an apartment. Attached to the appeal was a copy of the 21 March protocol of Balandina's questioning, showing her unwillingness to have the accused serve his interim punishment term inside the apartment she owns.

Yet when questioned in the regional court at the defence's request, Balandina refuted that point, saying, “Let him [Demidov] stay in the apartment as long as needed - the rent agreement expires on 1 January 2018. Police operative Dmitry Bulin came to my office to talk to me on 22 March, and on the 24th, an investigator summoned me for questioning”.

“Demidov tendered his resignation to rule out potential pressure on witnesses from the number of his subordinates,” defence lawyer Rodiontsev explained. “The landlady herself confirmed in court that she had nothing against his staying in her apartment. She was questioned on March 22, not 21. As can be seen from the protocol's text, the restrictive measure had already been selected, which had not been done and could not possibly have been done by March 21. The case files do not contain any investigator's order for operative Bulin to question witness Balandina. The interrogation was carried out by a non-authorised person who is not a member of the investigative team. This is an arbitrary action and an attempt to get things done as someone else sees fit”.

After the appellate hearings were over, the former official, accompanied by a Penal Department officer, went back to the rented apartment, not to a pre-trial prison cell. This lawful and fair decision was reported by media from the courtroom where open hearings had been held.


Two offices of Belsat television channel searched in Minsk

At about 9:30 a.m. on 31 March, police officials came with prosecutorial warrants to the two Minsk offices of the Belsat television channel, the latter's representative Alexei Minchenok told the BelaPAN news agency. “I still don't know what brought them there since I haven't seen any documents so far,” he said. “They came to one office via the organisation from which we rent the premises; someone opened the door to them. I don't know how they made it into the other office. One of our staffers was in there at the moment; it's still not clear whether he opened the door or if they walked in on their own”.

“I think the real reason for the visit is their desire to hamper our work and make it more difficult,” Minchenok continued. “The formal reason still remains unknown to me. May be it has to do with those mass unrests or with something else”.

The Belarusian-language satellite TV channel Belsat has beamed to Belarus since 10 December 2007, established as a branch of Polish Television. The Belsat office is headquartered in Warsaw and has tried hard during all those years to get officially registered in Belarus, but all to no avail.

Belsat correspondents have been repeatedly detained while doing their professional work, and have received quite a few official warnings. Many channel workers, for example, were detained while covering street protests in February and March this year.

[BelaPAN report, 31 March]


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

Journalists reported missing - 1 (Mikhail Nagibin, journalist, TV-21 channel, Murmansk)

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 10 (Alexander Molochko, anchorman, Magazzino TV show, attacked in Tambov; film crew of Leningrad Regional TV Company, Leningrad Region; Andrei Trofimov, chief editor, newspaper Alternativnaya Gazeta, Moscow Region; film crew of Avto 24 television channel, Moscow Region; Sergei Khazov-Kassiya and Andrei Kostyanov, Radio Liberty correspondents, attacked in Krasnodar Region; Alexander Petrosyan, Kommersant correspondent, St. Petersburg; David Frenkel, Kommersant correspondent, St. Petersburg; Alexei Alexeyev, Chernika correspondent, Petrozavodsk; Ikramutdin Aliyev, Kavpolit correspondent, Makhachkala; Nikolai Andrushchenko, journalist, Novyi Peterburg weekly, St. Petersburg)

Instances of censorship - 5 (media in Murmansk Region; newspaper Chitinskoye Obozreniye, Chita; Roskomnadzor, Moscow; Praim news agency, Moscow; NTV channel, Moscow)

Criminal charges against journalists, bloggers and media - 2 (Vladimir Chesalin, blogger, Bryansk Region; Boris Vetrov, journalist, Kommentator portal, Chita)

Illegal sacking of editor, journalist - 2 (Nikolai Nemayev, chief editor, newspaper Birobidzhanskaya Pravda, Birobidzhan; Marina Gavrilova, journalist, newspaper Arkhangelsk-Gorod Voinskoi Slavy, Arkhangelsk)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. - 26 (Andrei Trofimov, chief editor, newspaper Alternativnaya Gazeta, Moscow Region; Boris Vetrov, journalist, Kommentator portal, Chita; Yelena Sidorenkova, journalist, Rabochaya Demokratiya publication, Moscow; Yelena Kostyuchenko, Anna Artemyeva, Novaya Gazeta journalists, and Arden Arkman, photographer, all three of Moscow; Yuri Baranchik, chief editor, Regnum publication, Moscow; Ali Feruz, freelance correspondent, newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Moscow; Roman Tsimbalyuk, UNIAN correspondent, and Nikita Borodin, 1+1 television channel cameraman, both detained in Moscow; Sergei Satanovsky, journalist, Novaya Gazeta, St. Petersburg; Nadezhda Zaitseva, Vedomosti correspondent, St. Petersburg; Artyom Aleksandrov, journalist, Delovoy Petervburg, St. Petersburg; Roman Pimenov, Interpress journalist, St. Petersburg; David Frenkel, Kommersant correspondent, St. Petersburg; Maxim Protasov, former correspondent of Moskovskiy Komsomolets - detained in Vladivostok; Denis Styazhkin, freelance, detained in Moscow; Sofiko Arifdzhanova, Otkrytaya Rossiya correspondent, Moscow; Sergei Rasulov, Kommersant reporter, Makhachkala; Vladimir Sevrinovsky, Eto Kavkaz correspondent, Makhachkala; Faina Kachabekova, Kavkazskaya Politika journalist, Makhachkala; Alexander Nikishin, Svobodnyye Novosti news agency journalist and Otkrytyi Kanal online TV anchorman, Saratov; Alec Loon, The Guardian correspondent, Moscow; Alexander Plyushchev, Ekho Moskvy journalist, Moscow; Timofei Dzyadko, RBK journalist, Moscow; Pyotr Parkhomenko, Kommersant-FM journalist, Moscow; Taras Ibragimov, Article20 journalist, Simferopol; Ikramutdin Aliyev, Kavpolit correspondent, Makhachkala; Alexander Loginov, SeverPost cameraman, detained in Murmansk Region)

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 4 (Agzam Sharafiyev, chief editor, newspaper Yegorshinskiye Vesti, Sverdlovsk Region; Irina Yabbarova, Vecherniy Chelyabinsk reporter, Chelyabinsk; VGTRK film crew, Lipetsk Region; Konstantin Knyrik, head of NewsFront website, Crimea)

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.) - 47

Ejection of publication, etc., from its premises - 1 (newspaper Krasnoye Znamya, Chelyabinsk Region)

Closure of media - 6 (Moy Krai-Delovaya Kuban magazine, Radio Yuzhnoi Zvezdy radio show, newspaper Chernomorskiy Mayachok, Shpargalka Dlya Roditelei magazine - all four in Krasnodar Region; Kompaniya magazine, Moscow; Zdravstvui newspaper for physically handicapped people, Voronezh)

Interference with Internet publications - 4 (website 47news, Leningrad Region; FreeNews-Volga website, Saratov; Otkrytyi Kanal website, Saratov; OVD-Info news website, Moscow)

Seizure of, or damage to, photo, video or audio apparatus and computers - 3 (microphone of VGTRK film crew, Lipetsk Region; computer and photo camera of Sergei Khazov-Kassia and Andrei Kostyanov, Radio Liberty correspondents, in Krasnodar Region)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 42


Kizhi Culture Preserve management in Karelia tries playing commercial games with journalists

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

No one up until now has ever challenged the right of media outlets covering the situation at the Kizhi Culture Preserve in Karelia to publish their own photo pictures as illustrations to the texts. The topic is still extensively discussed, particularly in connection with the restoration work going on inside the preserve's wooden churches, but the relationships between the museum management and media outlets have clearly been worsening.

An internal ministerial circular which came into force last October has become known to journalists as late as now. It is titled “Regulations on handling photo images of museum artifacts and collections, as well as buildings and monuments, from the list of those protected by the State Historical, Architectural and Ethnographic Museum/Culture Preserve of Kizhi”.

The regulations prescribe who, how and on what terms and conditions may photograph museum items, objects and collections, including historical and cultural monuments. The culture preserve's personnel are allowed to use those items without any restrictions, but strictly for work-related purposes and without the right to transfer them to third parties. All the other legal entities and individuals will have the right to use Kizhi artifacts only upon signing an agreement with the museum management. For that purpose, they are to approach the director, having notified him in advance in writing which particular sites an individual (media correspondent) or legal entity (media outlet) intend to take pictures of. The agreement will specify which sites will be allowed for photography, and how and for what purposes the resulting photos will be used.

Attached to the regulations is a detailed description of rates which individuals and organisations will have to pay for taking photo pictures of the culture preserve's buildings and exhibits.

The publication of Kizhi site photos in periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines, will cost the media outlets 2,500 to 15,000 roubles (the highest rate is for media with a circulation of 100,000 and more). Multimedia will pay the museum 2,000 to 5,000 roubles per photo illustration.

A media failing to conclude an agreement or pay for the photos may face administrative liability. True, the regulations provide for some exceptions, when no agreement with the director will be needed if “a legal entity's photographs contribute to the museum's promotion”. Actually, though, any publication about the culture preserve is a form of the latter's promotion. But then, criticism of, say, the slow progress of ongoing restorations will definitely not be considered conducive to promotion, so the director's potential attitude to a critical publication illustrated by “unauthorised” photos is easily predictable.

So far, none of the media outlets or journalists has fallen under the effects of the internal circular, but that is only a matter of time, as the saying goes.

The fact of a museum selling photography rights should be viewed as an illegal action, because the management starts by restricting visitors' right to gather information, and after concluding an agreement and receiving payment, it lifts the restrictions it originally imposed. In line with the Civil Code, payments may be collected for the services provided (Article 779), while in our case, the Kizhi Culture Preserve does not provide any services at all.

The debate over the management's right to charge money for photography of museum facilities at Kizhi may well be expected to grow into litigations between the management and media outlets.

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
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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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