o Potentially Crippling Lawsuit Filed by Rosneft Against RBC
As anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny put it on his blog, “if Sechin wins the case against RBC (and yes, he could), then he will simply take over the publication.”
RBC’s annual revenue is less than what they would be asked to pay if Sechin is successful in pressing the sum named in his suit.
o Investigative Journalist Pasko Assaulted in Barnaul
Grigory Pasko, an investigative journalist, was assaulted in the southern Siberian republic of Altai on September 27, the New-York based advocacy group Committee to Protect Journalists reported, citing Pasko’s Facebook page.
Pasko, a formal Naval officer, served four years in prison on charges of espionage for publicizing environmental damage.
Pasko had traveled to Barnaul on September 26 to run a seminar for journalists organized by the Czech organization Fund 19/29 Association of Investigative Journalists (Sdružení investigativních novinářů – Fond 19/29), where he serves as director.
For some time, his organization had held training seminars in conjunction with local university journalism departments. But recently some of them had become reluctant to participate. The Russian Ministry of Justice had liquidated the Russian branch of Fund 19/29 in August.
But in Barnaul, Fund 19/29’s partner Altapress nevertheless went head with plans for the meeting. When the journalists arrived at the hall, an unknown man came and stared at Pasko for some time then left. Then, that night, police came and wrote down the names of all the participants and demanded to see their passports, claiming they needed to check “if they were migrants.”
Pasko noted that his group had never had any inspections of this type since 2009 when they began working in Russia. Then colleagues pointed out that a threatening blog had been written about Pasko that week.
While Pasko and his colleagues had faced attacks in various provincial cities and had been called “fifth columnists” and “State Department lackeys,” they had not faced direct police intervention or a physical assault. He believes the purpose was to intimidate journalists from such independent contacts. Nevertheless, he decided to continue the seminar the next day.
o Video Journalist Sotnik Flees Abroad After Threats
Sotnik was known for his man-in-the-street live interviews and frank commentary on the wars in Ukraine and Syria. He said he expected not to emigrate but wished to return to Russia. He has continued to post videos to his site using reporters who remain in Russia, such as one posted this week which interviewed ordinary people on the street who said that the “whole world has ganged up on Russia,” accusing it of responsibility for MH17.
o KGB Chief’s Granddaughter and Former Deputy Sue Ekho Moskvy for ‘Blackening’ His Memory
Aleksandr Khinshtein, a journalist and former State Duma deputy, and Vera Serova, the grand-daughter of Ivan Serov, the KGB’s first chairman, have filed a lawsuit in court against Ekho Moskvy for 2 million rubles ($31,828) for “disseminating information that damages their honor and dignity,” Meduza reported.
The charges stem from Ekho Moskvy‘s radio show “Dilettante” on July 14, 2016 in which historian Boris Sokolov maintained that recently published memoirs and a diary from Ivan Serov were a fabrication by their editor, Khinshtein, with the purpose of rehabilitating Serov.
Serov, the head of the NKVD and KGB secret police as well as the GRU (military intelligence), was known for his role in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants and for crushing the Hungarian revolution, as well as for his infamous boast that he could “break every bone in a man’s body without killing him.”
Khinshtein and Serova also sought an additional 500,000 rubles ($7,960) in damages personally from Sokolov.
Aleksandr Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, seemed to take the latest threat to the radio in stride:
Translation: the grand daughter of Army General Serov has sued historian Boris Sokolov and Ekho Moskvy. For blackening the memory of her grandfather. Well, what of it, let’s talk about Serov.
A problem in Russia is that the crimes of Stalin were never tried, with the exception of a very few individual perpetrators. So the well-known mass crimes against humanity by figures like Serov were never publicized, prosecuted and explained to the public. Therefore the history of the Communist era becomes subject to political manipulation
o Fontanka Reporter Korotkov on Trial for Exposing Election Fraud
Denis Korotkov, an investigative journalist for Fontanka best known for his work on the Wagner private military contractors in Syria, was handed an administrative warning at a court hearing on September 28 for reporting on election fraud, Fontanka.ru reported.
Korotkov posed as a voter and voted multiple times after being bused among polling stations in St. Petersburg in the tactic known in the region as “carousel voting.”
Opposition figures were quick to point out the irony of putting Nossik on trial while Russian forces were being accused by the West of potential war crimes in Syria“As Russian troops are storming Aleppo, I am being judged in Moscow for supporting this assault,” Nossik was quoted as saying in court by firebrand opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Nossik’s lawyer, Sergei Badamshin joked in an op-ed that his client was the first person to be “accused of openly supporting Vladimir Putin.”
o Reporters Detained for Covering Oil Spill
Journalists Maksim Polyakov and Vladimir Prokushev were detained for two hours on October 1 for filming an oil spill with a drone in the town of Usinsk in the Komi Republic, Moscow Times reported, citing the 7×7 news site.
Lukoil denied any involvement in the spill.
o Trial Pending for Blogger Krasnov Accused of Insulting Religious Believers with Comment ‘There is No God’
These cases are only a sample of attacks on journalists, including some of the major ones; there have been numerous cases of bloggers, especially in the provinces, who have been harassed or jailed for their writings. There is a pattern not only of a return to oppressive Soviet practices but of new forms of repression, adapted to the Internet age.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick