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ISSUE NO. 18 (379), APRIL 27 - MAY 3, 2009

Author – Analyst Of Center For Journalism In Extreme Situations,
Candidate Of Political Science Mikhail Melnikov (
  I. Events of the Week

1. The registration of domains in the Russian segment of the Internet will be toughened.

The coordination center of the RU domain said domains will now be required to get passports to be registered in the RU domain. The center has also proposed to order domain registration authorities to trace IP addresses used to file registration requests, phone numbers, and the plastic card information for the authors of the registration requests to facilitate the capture of criminals, Andrei Kolesnikov, director of the Coordination Center, said at a conference conducted by the organizations Internet and Business and the Russian Internet Forum. This center is a commercial organization, which was created in 2001 to develop regulations governing the registration of domain names in the RU domain.

According to Kolesnikov, users who wish to register their domains may refuse identification procedures, but in that case the operation of the site can be suspended on the basis of any complaint from Internet users.

Experts believe that he introduction of passport identification will not solve the global problem of Internet crime. “These rules only apply to the Russian segment of the Internet. But if you really want you can register a domain in a different area - COM, NET, ORG, etc. In these zones passports are not required and finding criminals in this case will be difficult,” said Viktor Naumov, partner of the law firm Salans.

Naumov said websites in Russia are normally closed under court rulings or at the request of the law enforcement agencies. “It is relatively easy to close a site, but it is very difficult to find criminals. The introduction of passport identification may help to some degree,” he said.

2. The traditional Day to Remember Journalists was marked in Samara on April 28. The celebration was held in the Sergiy of Radonezh Church on the initiative of the division of the Russian Union of Journalists in the Samara region.

The first such memorial service was held in the House of Journalists in 1996. In the subsequent years, memorial services were held in the Sergiy of Radonezh Church.

The Russian Union of Journalists has kept its Memory Book for many years. This book currently contains the names of 361 journalists.

3. In his message timed to the World Press Freedom Day (which is marked on May 3), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concerns about the attempts made by “some governments” to put pressure on the Internet media and bloggers and has spoken against self-censorship among journalists.

Ban Ki-moon said, citing the U.S.-based Committee to Protection Journalists (CPJ), that bloggers account for 45% of all journalists held behind bars. He also condemned the killings, persecution, and intimidation of journalists.

This is the first time the issue o protection of bloggers, representatives of new civil journalism, has been raised at such a high level.

II. Attacks and Threats against Journalists

1. Yaroslav Yaroshenko, editor of the newspaper Korruptsiya i Prestupnost (which translates as “Corruption and crime”), was attacked by unknown individuals in his apartment building in Rostov-on-Don on April 30. The journalist was hospitalized with a head injury. He is currently in intensive care, the paper’s editor-in-chief Sergei Sleptsov told Ekho Moskvy.

According to Sleptsov, the Rostov police assume that the journalist was not attacked, but fell off a staircase.

“We have recently resumed the publication of Korruptsiya i Prestupnost. Naturally, we have published several journalistic investigations, which confirmed that we were right and that law enforcement officials have committed major violations,” said Sleptsov.

Sleptsov says Yaroshenko has not been receiving any threats.

Yaroshenko’s family and colleagues believe the attack is related to his journalistic activities.

2. The apartment of Alexander Lashmankin, editor-in-chief of the human rights information agency Svoboda, was fired at in Samara on April 28, Sergei Khazov of Radio Liberty has reported.

The attackers used an Osa pistol to fire at Lashmankin’s windows. The journalist and his family were not hurt in the attack.

Lashmankin said he started receiving threats after his agency published materials criticizing the authorities for infill construction and human rights violations in Samara.

The Samara Leninsky District interior affairs department has started a probe into this incident.

III. Detentions and Arrests of Journalists

Airat Dilmukhametov, a publicist and a journalist with the newspaper Za Mestnoye Upravleniye, has been arrested in Bashkortostan on suspicion of making extremist statements.

The paper’s editor Robert Zagreyev has told Ekho Moskvy that Dilmukhametov has been under house arrest since March 31.

Dilmukhametov has been charged with making extremist statements in his publications and at protest rallies and has received suspended prison sentences, which expire in July 2009.

IV. Restrictions on Journalists. Pressure on the Media

1. The scandal involving the television program Peterburgsky Chas (Channel Five), which is controlled by the St. Petersburg administration, whose journalists have been insulted by high-ranking official Sergei Bodrunov, continues in St. Petersburg. Tatyana Aleksandrova, the host of the program, was taken off the air after St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko publicly apologized for her subordinate’s behavior.

Channel Five General Director Vladimir Troepolsky told Aleksandrova about the decision 30 minutes before Peterburgsky Chas was to go on the air on April 24 (the program is a talk show broadcast live).

On April 23, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko publicly admitted that the behavior of Sergei Bodrunov, head of the city’s economic development and industrial policy committee, was unacceptable. Bodrunov published an apology on his official website. In her report on this, Tatyana Aleksandrova and her colleague Alexei Sukhanov said she did not accept Bodrunov’s written apology and advised him to resign. The next day, she was taken off the air.

Channel Five has denied the information that Aleksandrova has been taken off the air, Interfax has reported. Larisa Konashenok, the head of the Channel Five public relations department, said Aleksandrova remains director of the City Broadcasting Directorate and her status has not changed.

2. The program K Baryeru! (NTV television), which has been hosted by Vladimir Solovyov for six years, has been closed, says an April 28 news report. The channel’s administration has made a decision to stop airing the program as of May 1. The last time the talk sow aired on April 23. The channel and Solovyov are alleging that the reasons for this decision are “purely corporate.”

NTV television began airing the project K Baryeru!, on which prominent people talked about various problems, in September (the talk show has aired a total of 211 times). In one of the recent talk shows, which addressed the anti-crisis policies, Oksana Dmitriyeva (Spravedlivaya Rossiya faction of the State Duma) defeated Andrei Isayev (United Russia faction of the State Diuma) by almost 20,000 votes, Kommersant has reported.

A source in Gazprom, which owns NTV television through the holding Gazprom-Media, said Gazprom top managers have recently received signals from high-ranking authorities saying that the talk show hosted by Solovyov is against the state information policy.

Sources a NTV said the contract with Solovyov has not severed yet. Solovyov says he is thankful to NTV for long cooperation and promises that he is “not going to join the opposition and shout protests.”

3. Officials from the administration of the website were summoned to the prosecutor’s office of the city of Kamenka, Penza region, on April 25. The prosecutors cautioned the site officials were cautioned against publishing two materials (“entitled “Muslim Memo” and “Following in the Footsteps of Satan” on the site, saying they could contain extremist information.

Both materials are not on the federal list of extremist publications, said experts from the analytical center SOVA.

4. The Federal Security Service has closed an Internet site that could provide any information about any citizen living of the CIS for a fee, the paper Yezhednevnyie Novosti has reported.

The site was closed under the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data.

Yezhednevnyie Novosti has previously published an address to the security services asking it to probe the operation of the site.

V. Lawsuits against Journalists

1. The Pervouralsk City Court has issued a ruling in the lawsuit filed by Pervouralsk Mayor Maksim Fyodorov, who was seeking to recover from journalists with the local newspaper Novaya Yezhenedelnaya Gazeta 150,000 rubles for publishing his poems without permission.

The court has partially granted the claim, lowering the moral damages to 15,000 rubles, the Pervouralsk City Court has told URA.Ru.

Fyodorov’s poems , which were taken from a collection of his works, were published in the January 29, 2009 edition of the paper, URA.Ru has reported. The collection of poems was published in late 2008 and had a circulation of only 500 copies. It was rumored that the book was published with money taken from the city budget. In the meantime, the paper’s journalists told the court that they fulfilled the law by publishing the name of the author and the source in their publication. The journalists also said they found Fyodorov’s poems to be “highly immoral.”

2. The newspaper Sport Express has accused the Internet project of plagiarism. The paper has fled a lawsuit with the Moscow Arbitration Court seeking to recover from the site 5 million rubles in compensation for unsanctioned use of three articles taken from the paper. The company Sport Segodnya, which owns the project, is preparing a counter claim.

Dmitry Rastokin, a lawyer for Sport Express, has told Vedomosti that the paper has spent several months trying to convince to stop reproducing its materials without mentioning the names of the authors. The negotiations did not yield any results and that paper had to go to court to seek compensation for copyright violations.

Dmitry Navosha, a co-owner of Sport Segodnya, said the claim is an element of rivalry between “the country’s two largest sports media outlets.” He alleges that his portal quotes Sport Express publications in accordance with the Russian legislation.

The conflict between the publications began in November 2008, when Sport Express observer Yelena Vaitsekhovskaya accused of stealing her materials.

3. The investigation into the case involving a resident of Anapa, who is accused of initiating “a discussion of an issue involving people with origins in the Caucasus living in the Krasnodar Territory on the forum” in 2008, was resumed in Anapa in late April. The man is charged with “fanning ethnic feud” (a crime enshrined by Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code).

4. Rafis Kashapov, a resident of Tatarstan, has been found guilty of fanning hatred and ethnic feud (a crime enshrined by Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code), Interfax has reported. The man has received a suspended sentence of 1.5 years in prison.

“The investigators and the court have found that Kapashov has published in his Internet blog articles entitled “Down with Christianity!,’ which experts found to contain information fanning ethnic feud,” the Investigations Committee of the Russian prosecutor’s office has reported on its website.

Commentary Prepared by CJES Legal Expert Viktoriya Blonskaya for Section V.1

Among the methods of protecting the personal non-property rights of an author, Article 1251 of the Russian Civil Code mentioned compensation for moral damages. Moral damage is interpreted as physical and moral harm suffered by a person (in this situation, the city mayor, the author of poems published by a newspaper) as a result of violations of his personal non-property rights.

The current legislation envisages a number of methods of copyright protection, which can be used both the author and the rightholder. If different methods can be applies, the decision on what precisely methods of copyright protection should be used in a specific case should be made by the person whose rights have been violated or are at risk for being violated.

Thus, the mayor (the author of the poems) had a choice of methods of copyright protection, and the method chosen by him (his demand for 150,000 in moral damages) could have inflicted serious harm on the publication if granted by court.

Decree No. 10 issued by the Supreme Court Plenum states: “The amount of compensation depends on the nature and volume of the moral or physical harm suffered by the claimant, the degree of the defendant’s guilt in every specific case, and other circumstances worthy of attention. The requirements of reason and justice should be taken into account when determining the amount of damage compensation. The degree of moral or physical damage is evaluated by court with regard for the circumstances surrounding the infliction of moral damages, the individual characteristics of the victim, and other circumstances indicating the gravity of the damage suffered.”

Taking into account the information provided in the report (the information mentioned the author and the source of the poems), we find that the paper has grounds to contest the ruling.

Type Of Event Number Of Cases
Attacks On Journalists 1 – Samara region
1 – Rostov region
Fatalities Among Journalists  
Detentions And Arrests Of Journalists 1 – Bashkortostan, Republic of
Lawsuits Against Journalists 1 – Sverdlovsk region
1 – Moscow
1 – Krasnodar Territory
Other Kinds Of Pressure On Editorial Boards And Journalists 1 – Moscow
Restriction Of Access To Information 1 – St. Petersburg
1 – Moscow
1 – Krasnodar Territory
1 – Tatarstan, Republic of
Missing Journalists  
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