25 Ноября 2010 года



GDF congratulated on 500th edition of Digest

This is the 500th edition of our weekly news digest, released by the Glasnost Defence Foundation on Mondays since August 2000. Over that time, the digests have reflected every kind of pressure on journalists and the media that has been attempted in Russia. The very first Digest issue looked like this: http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/35/65 . Then there was the 100th edition, the 250th, etc. As of today, half a thousand (sic!) issues of the Digest have been published.

We do not have a feeling we have done our bit – on the contrary, we are eager to continue this work, the results of which are so much needed by so many individuals and organisations.

We appreciate the support of our colleagues who sent us the following congratulations on the occasion of the Digest’s 10th anniversary and 500th issue:


Dear colleagues,

The release of the 500th edition of your online Digest, which records infringements of the rights of journalists and media, is a very big event for the journalistic community. The GDF Digest is seen as the single most important and accurate barometer of the weather in Russia’s media sector – a barometer not only for the professional community and human rights organisations but also for those citizens to whom freedom of expression and the right to freely express their opinion is an essential and integral part of life. The GDF Digest is not only bare listing of various Media Law violations throughout the Russian Federation, not only statistics of crimes against the journalists, but also a bell of glasnost calling public attention to the unfair deeds of those at the helm. The Digest is based on the results of monitoring of the breaches of media and journalists’ rights, conducted by the GDF staff correspondents and volunteers all across Russia. Without their active participation, the picture of the situation within the media sector would be incomplete, and the Glasnost Map – inaccurate. We wish everyone contributing to work on the Digest good health, creative endeavour, new interesting solutions and all the best in life!

Russian Journalists’ Union



Dear friends,

Reporters sans frontieres congratulates the entire team of the Glasnost Defence Foundation on the release of your jubilee Digest edition. You have actively fought for freedom of expression in Russia for many years, and thanks to you for your cooperation! Of course, we cannot say when this fight comes to an end, or if at all. But we are prepared and intend to support the media and human rights defenders in Russia together with you, to see freedom of expression observed in real terms in Russia someday.

Good luck to you all,

Jean Francois Jouleard, Elsa Vidal, Tikhon Dzyadko (Reporters sans frontieres)



Dear colleagues,

Congratulations on the occasion of your 500th Digest edition! Information from the “Chronicle of Injustice” is a major source of professional community reflections on what is going on not only in the Russian media but also in this country as a whole. You do what no one else does: measure the degree of authorities’ neglect of the journalists and journalism. This kind of attitude to newspaper and television reporters has negatively affected society’s health, although we are yet to realise the gloomy consequences in full. Journalism for those whose malpractices and abuses you bring to the focus of public attention is a nuisance and a burden, so they think they are free to “have it out” with you in line with underworld laws. Hopefully, an end to this outrage, which afflicts not only journalists, will be put someday, and it is through your unique, selfless work that you are bringing that day closer. Special thanks to you for that!

Wishing you strength and new victories along that path,

Boris Lozovsky, Dean, School of Journalism, Urals State University



The staffers of the newspaper Pravda Khakassii congratulate the Glasnost Defence Foundation on your remarkable jubilee – the release of the 500th edition of the Digest. Our readers have taken a liking to your weekly publication, excerpts from which are regularly reprinted in our newspaper. Of course, there are individuals who feel unhappy that the GDF defends all journalists without exception, not only pro-Communist ones. But there is general awareness of us striving to achieve a common goal – seeing the truth triumph. And it will triumph in the long run – if we stay united. It was by our concerted efforts that our fired editor-in-chief got reinstated. The GDF’s solidarity helped us undo that injustice. We wish you good friends and every possible success. Our strength is in freedom of expression, and yours – in Pravda [Russ. for “the truth” – Translator.]


Joining the greetings is the Communist Party Committee of the city of Sayanogorsk, Khakassia Republic, led by First Secretary Grigory Nazarenko, winner of the RJU 2009 Award “The Journalistic Work of the Year”:

Naturally, we are not too happy to see glasnost crawling toward freedom of expression like a turtle [a hint at the GDF logo – Translator.] – a faster pace would be more welcome. But the direction you once chose is right, and your Foundation could not possibly be reproached for deviating an inch from it. The Communists of Sayanogorsk wish you the soonest attainment of your target – why wait for the next jubilee? We pursue separate roads toward a common ideal – freedom of expression. That is why we are together!



500 Digest issues to unfreeze society

Dear colleagues and friends,

Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on the 500th issue of your weekly Digest. As early as ten years ago, a wise Russian political writer diagnosed our chronically sick society as being “a frozen democracy” (what a subtle metaphor!), stressing that we live in a democracy with Lenin’s mausoleum, Stalin’s anthem, an amorphous crowd of ex-Soviet supplies managers in parliament, and retired army and secret service officers in civil administrations. The pillars of this democracy are not small businessmen or free entrepreneurs but administration officials, government clerks (some still wearing shoulder straps) parasitizing on market relations, instead of regulating them! And let us admit honestly: this is one of the reasons why fear of the authorities is again growing in Russian society, and many “official” media are again compelled to speak to their audiences in the language of stagnant Soviet times. […] The rulers do not need the truth, so they crack down full weight on the free-thinking journalists who are refusing to sell themselves or accept the rules of this new dirty game, subjecting them to all sorts of pressure – from scores of sudden administrative inspections to unjustified legal claims to gangster raids on editorial offices to killings of “disagreeable” reporters...

In this environment, the Glasnost Defence Foundation remains one of the really working institutes of Russia’s civil society that is yet to be built; and one of the GDF’s favourite brainchildren – the Digest – remains one of the rare channels via which unbiased information is communicated to the whole of Russia and abroad about the deplorable state of media rights observance in this long-suffering country – the kind of information that is needed to “unfreeze” our half-frozen society. This work is carried out by the Digest editors with utmost care and patience, and your terse news reports are very professional – not “due to” but “in spite of”!

I congratulate everyone at the GDF on your jubilee and wish you happiness and every success! And – considering the well-known tragic circumstances – be sure you are alive and well protected...

As long as we are united, we cannot be defeated!


Dr. Mikhail Gorbanevsky (Ph.D., Philology) President, Guild of Linguistic Experts on Documentation and Information Disputes



What would be if there were no GDF Digest – something we’ve got so well accustomed to that we sort of take it for granted – something like fresh air or fresh water… This analogy is of course an exaggeration, but not as big as it may seem. The Digest is inseparably linked with the Glasnost Defence Foundation’s activity. One stems from the other. Neither can be assessed in terms of its current, momentous value. Both can be comprehended and evaluated only in a longer-term perspective. Like the “turtle crawling toward freedom of expression”, they both sometimes seem to be marking time. But if you take ten steps back, you will see how long the road is that we have left behind together. Without the GDF or its Digest, we would never have seen this perspective, and the steps back that can be taken today would have been fewer.

Dmitry Polyanin,
President, Sverdlovsk Region Journalists’ Union



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Being in my thoughts with you today to share the joy of your Digest jubilee, and raising a very real glass of champagne here to the great work you’ve been doing, I am saying to you, “God bless you! Keep up your excellent work! Be happy and prosperous!”

Ever yours,
Alexander Yakhontov, Penza



GDF Digest celebrates 10th anniversary

I am sending these grateful acknowledgements and congratulations to you as a reader, not a journalist.

[…] Although a member of the jury panel of the Andrei Sakharov competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”, I wasn’t a regular reader of your Digest in the past, a thing I now regret very much. When I read several Digest issues at once a few days ago, I got a comprehensive and impartial picture of the deplorable condition in which the provincial media are finding themselves in Russia today, with journalists involved in the day-by-day, routine struggle with authorities and their own founders for the right to honestly do their work without betraying the underlying idea of journalism or sacrificing their own honour and dignity – for the simple right to report on what is of interest and importance to the reader, on everyday things that cause people to worry or suffer […]

A closer look at the GDF Digest gave me an insight into Russian journalism with its “heroes and villains”, to quote Simon Schnoll, the biologist. Having read several issues, I bookmarked the link to the Digest which I will now read as regularly as I read the news on Grani.ru or EkhoMoskvy.ru. I congratulate the Digest team and thank you guys for the courage to take this work into your hands and for doing it so brilliantly, whatever the political climate in this country.

Yuri Samodurov,
Jury member, Andrei Sakharov competition “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”



“The International Federation of Journalists congratulates its partner, the Glasnost Defence Foundation, on the occasion of the 500th issue of the weekly news digest. Without the constant vigilance of our Russian colleagues and, in particular, the work of the GDF monitoring service, it would not be possible for us to offer real help and work together as equal partners. The IFJ supports the continuation of this essential work. It would like the GDF to know that its contribution is valued by all organisations which fight for freedom of speech and expression in Russia and for freedom of the media throughout your enormous country.

“Aidan White, Secretary General International Federation of Journalists (Brussels)”



Dear Mr. Simonov:

I congratulate the Glasnost Defence Foundation on the issue of the 500th edition of its Digest. Your team’s and your personal contribution to defending freedom of expression and promoting independent journalism in Russia is invaluable. You are not committed politically, you do not yield to provocation; you honestly and consistently keep doing very important work – doing it with high quality! Each Digest edition contains priceless information and shows that the people who worked on the issue firmly believe in a brighter future for Russia’s journalism. Every success to you and more positive news to all of us!

Best regards,

Pavel Gusev, Chairman, RF Public Chamber’s Commission on Communications, Media Policy and Freedom of Expression



Manana Aslamazyan receives TEFI-2010 Award

At a special ceremony in Moscow November 17, this year’s TEFI Award “For Personal Contribution to the Development of Russian Television” was handed to Manana Aslamazyan to undo the injustice done to her September 25, when the other winners were receiving their awards in St. Petersburg.

M. Aslamazyan, at one time the first executive director of the Glasnost Defence Foundation, later became head of the NGO Internews – an organisation that implemented a variety of educational programs via the online media, provided consulting services for journalists, produced TV shows, and promoted innovative TV technology.

But in late January 2007 Manana Aslamazyan, then president of the Educated Media Foundation (legal successor to Internews), was stopped at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with about 9,000 euro she had not declared because that was only slightly more than the USD 10,000 officially allowed by the customs service for entry into Russia without declaring. As a rule, this kind of minor offences entail a small monetary fine – but in her case, real criminal proceedings were instituted against Aslamazyan, followed by a freeze on Educated Media’s operation (see http://www.gdf.ru/digest/item/22/298#week). As a result, the Foundation was destroyed, and Manana was declared wanted by the police – even though she never made secret of her whereabouts. The criminal case was closed in June 2008, but the primary target had been attained – an organisation that taught reporters the principles of real journalism had ceased existing, and its head was afraid to return to Russia for the following three and a half years, not knowing for certain what might be in store for her in her home country. That might be a reason why M. Aslamazyan was absent at the award-giving ceremony in St. Petersburg.

Yet justice was done to her, after all – not without interference “from above”. According to the Caucasian Knot news agency, Eduard Sagalayev, president of the National Association of TV and Radio Broadcasters, who attended the ceremony, quoted Premier Putin as saying, “As long as I am in power, Manana may freely enter and exit Russia without any fear. I am in the know of her situation. All the legal proceedings against her will be stopped – she is welcome back here!”

…It so happened that M. Aslamazyan was crossing the Russian border in the company of her former boss, GDF president Alexei Simonov, who by a pure chance was returning to Moscow by the same flight.



Republic of Khakassia. Newspaper editor proves in court he was fired unlawfully

By Mikhail Afanasyev,
GDF staff correspondent in Siberian Federal District

The city court in Abakan, Khakassia, has drawn a line under a labour dispute between the newspaper Pravda Khakassii’s editor and its founder, the republican branch of the Russian Communist Party. Erik Chernyshov was reinstated as editor-in-chief as of November 19, and awarded compensation for the entire period of his forced absenteeism since September 8.

Many Communists applauded Chernyshov’s reinstatement. Erik himself denied the fact of his being in conflict with the party committee, pointing his finger, instead, at the personal stand of First Secretary V. Kerzhentsev. Having studied the case, the court ruled to restore the editor’s breached rights.

Yet it seems it may be too early for Chernyshov to celebrate his victory. One of these days he may be fired again for his “failure to report at his work” (sic!). Kerzhentsev has required him to present documents justifying his staying away from the office between September 8 and November 18. An official notice says if he does not, he will be fired for absenteeism – and this despite his having officially turned over his duties to a deputy as early as September 7, in implementation of the party committee’s decision on his dismissal.

A copy of the latest court decision, which Kerzhentsev may find to be a good excuse, will be available as late as Wednesday, November 24. Judging by the party leader’s prior behaviour, he may be expected to do his best to get Erik Chernyshov fired at any cost.

Evidently, the conflict in Khakassia will soon receive further coverage in the GDF Digest.


Yaroslavl Region. Journalist pushed into precipice

By Victoria Fomina,
GDF staff correspondent in Central Federal District

In the town of Myshkin, Nikolai Smirnov, a staff correspondent for the Yaroslavl-based newspaper Zolotoye Koltso, has received numerous bone fractures and a spinal trauma as a result of falling down from a 20-metre height into the Volga River.

The tragedy occurred on November 12, after Smirnov had celebrated his jubilee in a restaurant. Ready to return home, he went out to wait for his wife outside – and vanished. He was only found late at night. The last thing he remembered was three unknown men approaching him from the darkness. “Jump down, pal!” they had demanded, pushing him toward the edge of the river bank.

A few days earlier, the journalist had received threatening phone calls to which he had paid no special attention. He is now in an intensive care ward in a reportedly “serious” condition.


Krasnodar Region. Editor sentenced to two years in labour camp

By Victoria Tashmatova,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

The Primorsko-Akhtarsky District court in the Krasnodar Region has sentenced Anasnasia Baranova, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Primorsko-Akhtarskiye Vesti, to two years of correctional labour.

She is not only the editor but also the founder of the independent district newspaper, having taken it over from several farm owners who had lost all interest in the paper they had originally launched in the early 1990s. For over 10 years now, pensioner A. Baranova has paid for the newspaper’s release mostly from her own pocket. The paper is fairly popular in the district, but has only a limited number of advertisers. Its sharp-worded criticism of poorly performing administrators, including members of the local ruling elite, has led to numerous legal claims filed against the editor, and to considerable spending on defence lawyers, etc. Until recently, however, the newspaper managed to win most cases in court.

When the worst came to the worst, the editor was compelled to go round with the hat collecting readers’ voluntary donations. It is this sponsor assistance that underlay last week’s hearings in the district court of several local residents’ legal claims saying the editor had borrowed RUR 7,000-10,000 from each of them for her newspaper’s development but had not repaid the debts. Actually, A. Baranova got convicted because of her failure to duly document those voluntary donations.

Personally, she sees this as someone’s attempt to teach her to be less bold in her critical publications. She insists all the donations were spent for the proclaimed purposes and duly documented. The editor directly links the judicial proceedings with her professional activities. Being a disabled person herself, and having an invalid daughter to support, Baranova intends to challenge the court ruling before the higher-standing regional court. Readers have launched a campaign of solidarity with their favourite newspaper’s editor, are gathering signatures to a petition in her support, and intend to hire a lawyer to represent her interests in the second-instance court.


Samara Region. “Disloyal” editor fired

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

Vladimir Knyazkin, the newly elected head of the Chelno-Vershinsky District administration in the Samara Region, has issued an order on the dismissal of Rashid Garifullin, editor of the district newspaper Avangard, on the pretext of “the newspaper’s changing hands” (Article 81.4 of the RF Labour Code). Actually, however, the editor was fired from the newspaper for which he had worked for 50 (sic!) years because of refusing during the latest election to publish candidates’ campaigning materials in violation of the election law.

Sackings of editors by newly elected local leaders are not new for the region of Samara. Fresh on journalists’ memory is the determination passed by the RF Supreme Court’s Civil Law Collegium in 2008 on the dismissal of editor Alexander Popov by the Sergiyevsky District administration head Anatoly Shipitsyn. The determination specifically addressed the issue of newspaper ownership: “The head of a local self-government does not personally own a municipal company’s property (in this case, the district newspaper). Therefore, when deciding to terminate a work contract with the municipal company’s head, he/she shall be guided by the interests of the municipal entity’s population, not by his/her personal interests.”

In this light, the lawfulness of Garifullin’s sacking does look questionable. After some hesitation, the dismissed editor appealed for support to the regional branch of the Journalists’ Union. The JU offered to hire a lawyer to defend Garifullin’s interests in court, if need be. Meanwhile, the editor has complained to the local prosecutor’s office which then warned the district leader of his being in breach of effective labour legislation, and appealed to a federal court to have the unlawfully sacked editor reinstated.


Samara Region. Local rulers attempt to extort money from newspaper

By Viktor Sadovsky,
GDF staff correspondent in Volga Federal District

After power changed hands in the Bolshe-Glushitsky District of the Samara Region, the local newspaper Stepniye Izvestia found itself the subject of a comprehensive check-up ordered by the new district head, Alexander Grebenik. The inspectors were after the “big money” the newspaper had earned over the past year – RUR 3 m in proceeds from advertising, pre-election publications, etc. Three million roubles being a “very impressive” sum by provincial estimates and the newspaper being a municipal company, the administration thought it was justified in claiming “its own” part of the profit.

Naturally, the newspaper is unwilling to share its earnings with anyone – but it is also unable to sustain the “extortionist” pressure from local administrators, even though this is a clear violation of the Media Law provisions stipulating (in its Article 19) that “A media outlet shall operate on the basis of professional independence and […] can have the status of a legal entity (which Stepniye Izvestia actually is – Author.), or an independent economic entity in any organisational form allowed under the law”.

The situation with this municipal “racket” is yet to be clarified. Life shows that more often than not, it is local media outlets that claim money from municipal administrations for information support services, the publication of official documents, etc. The vice versa situation occurs in the Samara region for the first time ever.


Republic of Karelia. Last issue of newspaper Litsei to be released December

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

The newspaper Litsei has been released in Karelia since December 1991. The 24-page monthly reports the cultural news and discusses education-related matters and major social developments and trends. This is the republic’s single and last newspaper focusing on cultural and spiritual life. Or, rather, it was, because the last, 198th, issue of Litsei is to be released this December. Karelia’s new head A. Nelidov, concerned with how to reduce the republic’s budget expenditure, has issued instructions to economize on whatever possible. Since Litsei is financed from the government budget, the new director of Karelia Publishers’ labelled the monthly unprofitable – and this despite its costs (together with the children’s supplement Moya Gazeta) totalling slightly more than a million roubles (about USD 32,000) per year.

The news about Litsei’s imminent closure raised a wave of public protests. A campaign of solidarity with the unique publication has been announced, with over 600 signatures gathered already. Readers are pelletting Karelia’s leader with letters urging him to think twice before closing a popular newspaper for a meagre million roubles of budgetary savings.

Meeting with the board of the republic’s Journalists’ Union, where he was asked again not to kill Litsei, A. Nelidov said he is not officially required to waste money on this kind of publications. There is no effective legislation requiring governors to support cultural or educational periodicals, he argued. If journalists are so fond of Litsei, he said, they may as well club together to continue financing its operation – or find an external sponsor for it. Summing it up, no mutual understanding was reached during that meeting.

The newspaper staffers – two lady editors – have already been ousted from the small office room they rented. Natalia Meshkova, who has edited Litsei for the past 19 years, has decided to go online to save the brainchild of her life. She is not sure where to find money to finance the online version of her newspaper, but one thing is clear to her: “The show must go on!” As an option, the same two ladies may continue issuing Litsei as volunteers, without remuneration.

As it turns out, preserving culture and upholding educational traditions is a function of volunteers, not a duty of public administrators. At least, this is how the issue is looked at in Karelia…


Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Inaccessible culture

By Olga Vassilyeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

A round table conference, “Culture and Journalism”, was held in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk November 20, organised by journalists and attended by creative intellectuals, university professors and officials of the municipal administration and the Sakhalin Region’s Culture Agency.

The officials and cultural activists agreed that only three or four journalists throughout the region address cultural themes professionally – but even those tend to be rather monotonous in terms of the genres they choose; the rest are superficial, non-inquisitive, and have a limited vocabulary. It is those three or four who are active during news conferences, with the rest keeping silent to the bewilderment of their interviewees. The school of journalism which opened just a few years ago has so far been of little help, discharging poorly trained and rather illiterate graduates.

Journalists, for their part, contended that even veteran reporters, who have written about culture for all their life, have been finding it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to work now – not because of occasional censorship attempts or occasional restrictions on access to information but because of full-scale censorship practised, and permanent barriers placed in their way, by government officials. For the second year running, with Moscow-appointed Vice-Governor Georgy Ivanov overseeing the ideology sphere, any minor detail may only be requested in the form of an official inquiry filed with the Information Policy Department, which will then take days or even weeks to decide whether or not to supply the requested information.

There have been funny incidents, too.

“After the end of a festival, I called the organizers on the phone to check the names of some singers and groups,” a reporter recalled. “They told me they didn’t care a damn how those names spelt – they were quite satisfied they’d been shown on TV…”

Journalists also complained that daily announcements of events they receive from the government press service are often illiterate and misleading. Fairly often, the note “Reporters are welcome” turns out untrue.

“We came to watch a concert we’d been invited to attend, but they wouldn’t let us through,” another reporter said. “I felt really sour – disparaged, humiliated and ashamed before my younger colleagues, budding reporters who’d just graduated from the school of journalism. What kind of lesson were they being taught – that journalists are being turned into valets?”

The round-table discussion yielded just one, oral, recommendation: if government officials are as interested in professional media coverage of their activities as they are claiming, they should call an open sitting of the Culture Agency Collegium (the previous one was held several years ago), and make sure it is attended by Vice-Governor Georgy Ivanov, the man in charge of the media affairs.


Rostov Region. Police chief’s legal claims against newspaper turned down

By Anna Lebedeva,
GDF staff correspondent in Southern Federal District

On March 3, the newspaper Gazeta Dona (GD, based in Rostov-on-Don) featured an article describing an incident in which the Savinov family of the city of Konstantinovsk had got involved. As they were having a picnic on the bank of the Don River, two groups of teenagers started a major brawl. The Savinovs called the police – only to be taken themselves to the police station, accused of hooliganism, and beaten up. A complaint to the city prosecutor’s office gave rise to a purely formal and meaningless reply. And district police chief I. Tereshchenko filed two legal claims against the newspaper that had ventured to report on the Savinovs’ manhandling by the police.

“He began by filing a claim with the Kirovsky District court, but his claim was turned down,” GD editor Arthur Rudakov told the GDF Digest. “Then he took it to the regional court of arbitration, but there, too, it was rejected. I think the main reason is that police commanders are legally illiterate. The officer couldn’t formulate his claim adequately.”

As pointed out in a follow-up story published by GD, the police chief failed to mention a single fact that he would like to see refuted. Instead, he accused the newspaper and its author of “attempting to discredit the police as a group of citizens united exclusively by their belonging within law enforcement”. And this is a charge tantamount to “instigating social differences”, as stipulated in effective Russian legislation.

Fortunately, the Rostov courts have so far looked at the matter from a different angle.


Vladivostok. Yet another failed attempt to shut newspaper down

By Anna Seleznyova,
GDF staff correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

The Frunzensky District court in Vladivostok has turned down a legal claim by RosKomNadzor (the federal agency overseeing the sphere of public communications) on shutting down the newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti (AV).

Formally, the media outlet might be closed in view of the two warnings issued to AV by RosKomNadzor in 2009 – one for a breach of the Personal Data Law, the other for “extremist” activities. But journalists and readers of the popular newspaper are convinced the agency may be insisting on AV’s closure because of pressure from a group of Maritime Region officials whose interests may have been affected by the newspaper.

As regards the first case, the alleged disclosure of personal data in a 2008 story, AV staffers were repeatedly summoned to the prosecutor’s office and courts for two years following the publication. The newspaper acknowledged its unintended mistake and concluded an amicable settlement with the victim. “Actually, the first warning was thereby rendered senseless,” editor Irina Grebneva commented.

The second charge – extremist activities and propagation of fascism – sounded serious indeed. It was brought against the newspaper after it published a caricature featuring the letter X in the abbreviation ЖКХ [Russ. for “communal services” – Translator.] styled as the swastika in a story criticising the poor performance of municipal service providers. “Even judging by the title, one can say with confidence there is no propagation of fascism whatsoever,” the editor said. This view was actively supported by fellow journalists, public activists and lawyers because the anti-extremism law says that an image of the swastika or another Nazi symbol can be identified as extremist only if followed by a text propagating fascism. Editor Grebneva repeatedly protested the warning before the Tagansky court of Moscow, but her five protests were returned to her without consideration. The same happened to the three protests she filed with the Frunzensky District court of Vladivostok.

“Who can believe no one coordinates the judges’ actions?” Grebneva said. “There must be some persons driven by a desire to have my newspaper closed at any cost. I mean, they are not RosKomNadzor officials but persons of a much higher rank.”

At the latest hearing earlier this month, Judge Bichukova finally turned the RosKomNadzor claim down. “The judge observed the letter of the law, not the speculations substituted for it,” the editor commented. In her view, RosKomNadzor made a decisive mistake by substituting TWO WARNINGS for TWO LAW VIOLATIONS in its claim for shutting the newspaper down. The law unambiguously stipulates that a media outlet may be closed if found to have twice breached the law during one year. In real terms, the two underlying events – even if identified as law violations – occurred 18 months one after the other, which is anyway more than one year’s time.

But the real motive for pressure on her newspaper is the forthcoming election, Grebneva said. “If vote-rigging during the next election turns out not so brazen and mean as it used to be, and if people’s protesting voices become more audible, then independent newspapers like Arsenyevskiye Vesti or Novaya Gazeta may become a real menace for the money-thirsty team clutching at power as frantically as they do. Attempts to have us shut down have continued for the whole 18 years of my newspaper’s operation, growing ever more vigorous each time an election was upcoming. In the past, those attempts were made only by our regional rulers, never bringing them, though, anything more than additional headaches – but higher popularity ratings to us.”


St. Petersburg. Rally in defence of journalists

By Roman Zakharov,
GDF staff correspondent in North-Western Federal District

A rally in defence of journalists, organized by the public movement Solidarity, was held in St. Petersburg November 14, marking the next anniversary of the brutal attack on Khimkinskaya Pravda editor Mikhail Beketov.

People, many with children, who promenaded along the pedestrian Malaya Konyushennaya Street in downtown St. Petersburg last Sunday, could see a group of persons holding placards with eye-catching, pain-causing slogans – placards featuring Oleg Kashin, a journalist crippled by unknown thugs recently – placards calling for an end to this gangster outrage.

According to one rally participant, many people came up to ask what the placards meant and why most speakers were putting the blame for Kashin’s beating on Molodaya Gvardiya [the Young Guards movement positioning itself as a youth wing of the ruling United Russia party – Translator.]. But many more passers-by quickened their steps to go away, the activist said.

Three important points may be stressed in connection with that rally. First, the authorities allowed the organisers to hold the rally in the very heart of the city, where there are always many people and where the event could not possibly be left unnoticed. Second, no incidents occurred at all, although the place was guarded only by three police patrolmen. And third, many people’s reaction showed that the number of those who no longer stay indifferent to the attacks on journalists has grown, which is indeed inspiring.



“We are trampled on because you all keep silent…”

By Tatyana Sedykh,
editor, newspaper Moyo Poberezhye, Vanino, Khabarovsk Region

It so happened in my life that during the horrific years 2004-2006 I more than once had to appeal for support to prominent journalists – with or without parliamentary IDs. Some, with powerful connections, hastened to get rid of me by sending purely formal replies. Others gave some vague promises or told me – via their secretaries – that they did not provide the kind of assistance I wanted. Time and again, Khabarovsk-based newspapers would print brief notes describing my needs, but those, too, had to shut up soon because of dependence on local authorities…

Only the Glasnost Defence Foundation kept reporting about ever newer crimes committed against me. And Genrikh Borovik, having read my story “An Easter for Gangsters, or Let’s Remember the Port of Vanino Again”, invited me to Moscow and told colleagues about the miserable conditions in which my newspaper Moyo Poberezhye has been released in a former transit prison town for several years now. He told them about an attempt on my life, and about my daughter narrowly escaping death in the burning house together with me. About the destruction of my office equipment together with the entire print run. About the torching of my car that I used instead of my disabled legs, and about my having to stagger on crutches in a plaster corset now. About a Press Day raid on my rented apartment, and an attempt at poisoning me to death. About the release of fake duplicate issues of my newspaper. About insulting and threatening e-mail messages and phone calls I receive. About our staff kicked out into the streed from our office, and the ban imposed on Moyo Poberezhye’s distribution. About the car that nearly run me over. And, most importantly, about that fact that not a single of those crimes has ever been investigated or disclosed and about me staying homeless ever since 2004 when my house was burned. And many journalists, even my neighbors from the Khabarovsk Region, still don’t know – or pretend not to know – about any of those outrageous facts…

When Natalia Estemirova was murdered in 2009, the Journalists’ Union announced a nationwide campaign to put an end to violence against journalists, and called on all sympathizers to join it. A year has passed since then – and you know all too well how many journalists have suffered over that time. What could I do to help them? I transferred money – as much as I could – to help the crippled guys pay their medical bills. I told their sad stories on the pages of my newspaper so that people in our remote Far Eastern province knew about the risks those journalists selflessly took …

The attack on Oleg Kashin is the focus of public attention now. Again, we are voicing protests, recollecting the past, staging rallies. What will that all end in? The same thing, I’m afraid.

How long will this situation be tolerated? When will the journalists’ associations – not only in Moscow but nationwide, too – speak out loud about the flagrant violations of journalists’ rights in their respective regions? When will they demand the investigation of the crimes committed against them and the passing of a federal law to protect the media workers? If they finally do, that will be a genuine national campaign of concern for the future of our profession and our nation!

Remember what Larissa Yudina, the late editor of the newspaper Sovetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya, said in her address to the Congress of Journalists in 1997: “Unless we take steps to protect ourselves, we won’t achieve anything, ever. In the final count, what do we need our Union for? Only to organise festivals of the free press? And how about the press that is not free – the hard-pressured, semi-stifled press? We are trampled on because you all keep silent. It’s you who allow to be maltreated like that. Yes, I know that some nasty things happen in this country now to one newspaper, now to another, giving rise to angry public addresses. But that’s not enough! We need to stand firm for one another!”

She hoped for your support but never did get it. A year after she made that address, Larissa was brutally murdered. Today, twelve years after, her words are as true as ever: “We are trampled on because you all keep silent!”


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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