14 Ноября 2016 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 776

7 November 2016



: Only seven per cent of journalist murders solved worldwide

The number of journalists paying with their lives for their work has steadily grown, while their killers have been going unpunished. Investigations into such crimes have been carried out in full in less than 7% of all cases, UNESCO stated in connection with International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, annually marked on November 2.

According to the latest research by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the top lines in the CPJ Impunity Index have been occupied by conflict zones such as Somalia, Iraq, and Syria. Yet journalists have been murdered in times of peace as well, and in nearly 95% of cases in all countries, the victims were local journalists reporting about corruption, problems with official authorities, and environmental issues.

The United Nations, at UNESCO initiative, has adopted a plan of action to end impunity for crimes against journalists. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova is calling on the governments to end this terrible "form of censorship".

[UN Radio report, 2 November]


Journalists' union head in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region faces dismissal and prosecution for highlighting censorship

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

Law enforcement and the Antimonopoly Service in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region (otherwise known as Yugra) have started checking the performance of Alexander Grigorenko, head of the regional Journalists' Union, during his tenure as director of the autonomous institution Yugra-Press which he left more than a year ago because of a "protracted conflict" with the regional governor's press office, according to the news portal Znak.com. The man caught the law enforcers' suspicious eye after his high-resonance address to a roundtable conference of the All-Russia Popular Front (ONF) for which he works as an advisor. Grigorenko charged the regional administration with imposing tough censorship on the media under its control: "All materials are fully coordinated. To make their work easier, they [the authorities] have closed three media outlets, leaving only one, whose reports are checked in terms of each comma and each photo picture. Everyone knows that the situation on TV is the same".

Although Grigorenko's address sounded harshly critical, it fully fitted into the ONF-announced agenda. Opening the roundtable session, its moderator Konstantin Ternovoy, who is a co-chairman at the regional ONF headquarters, said: "In 2015−2016, our office repeatedly received signals about the problem situation in the media sector", which he specified as "censorship problems in Yugra, attempts to interfere with the work of public groups, the closure of media seen by fellow journalists as unreasonable, the scrapping of popular-brand programmes and socially significant projects, and pressure put on Yugra's lead reporters to coerce them into dropping journalism".

We reported about a likely decrease in the number of Yugra media in digest 724 (see digest 724 ). According to the regional Public and Foreign Relations Department, there are only 105 registered media left region-wide today (vs. nearly 300 two years ago).

Many speakers agreed that censorship "is indeed practised in the region" and that it is "a big problem". Bright examples, though, largely concerned municipalities. ONF office member Alexander Khilman showed his colleagues "a requirements specification for potential contractors to provide information services for the population. And this municipal specification says in no uncertain terms that absolutely everything, including rubric headings, must be coordinated with the district administration. This is clear-cut censorship and a violation of Article 2 of the Media Law". Natalya Makagon, editor of an independent news portal in Pyt-Yakh, shared this information: "We have a municipal TV/radio broadcaster with a staff of 40, and all of those people follow municipal officials to record their comments. We have spent two years trying to end such practices, with considerable support from the public who still can't believe there is any really independent channel at all".

Yet it was Alexander Grigorenko's speech which cut to the heart some of his ONF colleagues. One of them, advisor Andrei Ryabov, resolutely disagreed. "I am not defending executive authorities but I think Grigorenko had no right to take the floor and make such statements on behalf of the Yugra Union of Journalists". His colleagues would "call for holding meetings at the grassroots to decide who should lead the regional Union branch," Ryabov told Ura.ru.

According to this news agency sources, Alexander Grigorenko may find himself under prosecution: a financial audit has established that when resigning from Yugra-Press more than a year ago he allegedly stole nearly 2 million roubles and illegally received 70,000 roubles in a Press Day bonus from the moneys paid to his company for fulfilling a government order, regional administration specialists said.

The regional Antimonopoly Service, too, has lodged (although with a 12-month delay) several administrative lawsuits against Yugra-Press and its ex-director in view of alleged law violations during his concluding contracts with suppliers. According to the anti-monopolists, those contracts were not shown on the website reporting state purchases, and were all signed with a single supplier.

Grigorenko himself sees all of the above-named lawsuits brought against him as local authorities' reaction to his statements regarding censorship. "All that is total rubbish," he told Ura.ru. "It's my opponents who initiated those prosecutorial check-ups, but they've nothing at all to prove my guilt".

The situation in Yugra has made many recall the recent scandal around Satirikon Theatre art director Konstantin Raikin, whose opponents displayed a sudden interest in his financial position after he warned the public about the threat of Russian culture's likely falling under censorship. The only difference is that law enforcement has not yet been given the green light to start checking the theatre's work and associated business practices.

Petrozavodsk administration rules to sanction media for "insufficient attention" to it

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

The administration of Karelia's capital Petrozavodsk has approved new rules of accreditation for journalists, adding a few requirements that clearly contradict federal legislation. Six items mark encroachments on editorial freedom and infringements of journalists' right to gather information inside the mayoral headquarters.

For example, the mayor's office required the journalists "to promptly submit to the mayoral press office their publications' reports about all administration-sponsored events", and if a journalist has failed to cover mayoral performance during six months, his/her accreditation would be cancelled. The same rule applies to journalists refusing to apologize to the administration (when feeling they are right) if the mayor's office urges them to. This does sound odd in a situation where long-established mechanisms of settling government-media conflicts, including in court, are commonly known and there is no need to invent any special "official apology" requirements.

The new accreditation rules were published in June, and Karelia's journalistic community tried at first to persuade the mayor's office to correct them by crossing out some clearly unlawful items and by editing others. Yet no dialogue occurred, so the republic's Union of Journalists was compelled to go to law to defend its members' interests. The court declared the oddest items (such as the two above-mentioned ones) unlawful, while leaving a number of others effective and a hurdle to media outlets with no official registration as such. The latter category includes the majority of Karelia's internet resources (news websites) which are not required by law to be registered.

One accreditation-related requirement sounds vague and ambiguous, imposing on journalists the duty of providing "comprehensive and unbiased coverage of the work of the mayor's office of Petrozavodsk" - if only because a media editor and mayoral officials may look at these two notions from different angles, which may make mutual legal claims and accreditation cancellations likely.

The Petrozavodsk administration's desire to "protect" itself from journalists in such a queer way is generally pointless: federal legislation allows any Russian citizen to attend open municipal meetings and report on them to the public. So if the mayor's office remains as stubborn, journalists will attend mayoral events simply carrying their civilian passports. The new rules of accreditation discredit the Petrozavodsk authorities, because they may cause people to think the administration is trying to hide some important information from city residents.


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in October 2016

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 3 (Alexandra Garmazhapova, Novaya Gazeta v Peterburge correspondent, St. Petersburg; Vitaly Shcherbakov, editor, Surgutinform-TV company, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District; Konstantin Bronevitsky, cameraman, Bloknot-Volgograd publication, Volgograd)

Instances of censorship - 3 (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District media; newspaper Iskra, Stavropol Region; newspaper Vyatskiy Nablyudatel, Kirov)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers - 4 (Roman Sushchenko, Ukrainian journalist from UkrInform news agency, Moscow; Alexei Nazimov, chief editor, Tvoya Gazeta publication, Crimea; Ruslan Sokolovsky, blogger, Yekaterinburg; Denis Shaikin, journalist and publisher, newspaper MK Chernozemye, Kursk)

Illegal sacking of journalist or editor - 1 (Yulia Shevtsova, chief editor, newspaper Vyatskiy Nablyudatel, Kirov)

Detention by police, FSB, etc. - 5 (Vladimir Prokushev and Maxim Polyakov, 7x7 web publication, Komi Republic; Roman Sushchenko, Ukrainian journalist from UkrInform news agency, Moscow; Alexei Nazimov, chief editor, Tvoya Gazeta publication, Crimea; Andrei Sharonov, freelancer, Moscow; Ruslan Sokolovsky, blogger, Yekaterinburg)

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.) - 33

Refusal to print (or distribute) media - 1 (newspaper Nasha Versiya, Saratov)

Disruption of TV and radio broadcasts - 1 (SNT broadcaster, Smolensk Region)

Closure of media - 2 (newspaper Peterburgskiy Mayak, St. Petersburg; Ura1.ru news website, Chelyabinsk)

Interference with web publications - 1 (Vzglyad-Info news agency, Saratov)

Issue of duplicate, i.e., rival, publications -1 (newspaper Vyatskiy Nablyuidatel, Kirov)

Seizure of, or damage to photo, audio and video apparatus and computers - 3 (video camera of Istoki media holding, Orel Region; video camera of Bloknot-Volgograd publication, Volgograd; computer of Ksenya Babich, spokeswoman with Pravovaya Initsiativa public group, Moscow)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 26

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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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