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Nine Norwegian journalists crossed the boarder to learn about Russia. Russian society may be no less foggy for us now, but at least we understand the limits of our understanding.

 

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Musical theatre of the Republic of Karelia (Petrozavodsk) and Barents Press International invite 15 journalists from the Barents region to participate in the program "School of theatre journalist" from 27 November to 1 December.

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Jun 6, 2014
 

Journalists of Karelia complain to Strasbourg

Mar 24, 2010


For the first time ever in Karelia, the newspaper Novaya Kondopoga (NK) has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights to challenge a number of court decisions passed in respect of the newspaper and one of its authors in violation of several international law provisions.

The conflict dates back to February 2008 when NK published an article titled “A Show for Simpletons” which summed up the essence of a court ruling passed on the case of I. Tsymlyakov, then head of the State Technical Supervision Inspectorate, who was in at the time for a very real term of imprisonment for machinations. The newspaper pointed out that the ruling had not yet come into full legal force. I. Tsymlyakov later appealed against it and got away with a suspended three-year term, which fact, too, was duly reported by NK.

Nevertheless, thinking that Novaya Kondopoga had breached his constitutional right to the presumption of innocence, Tsymlyakov sued the newspaper and won the case in court, with RUR 30,000 awarded to him in moral damage compensation payable by NK and the article’s author.

The newspaper, in its turn, went through all the judicial channels protesting that decision and, having failed to find full justice at home, appealed to the European Court for protection. The journalists are convinced the said decision violates the principle of freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. One, the article was about a public figure (head of a state inspectorate), which category of persons the European Court had designated as the subjects of increased tolerance to criticism – a principle to be observed by the Russian courts, too, as “a must”. Two, the publication raised a socially important problem – the need to actively resist unlawful practices in view of the growing crime rate; and the author’s evaluative statements were backed with quotes from the files of a specific criminal case – the one opened on charges against I. Tsymlyakov. Besides, NK kept reporting on each subsequent court decision passed on his case, including the one mitigating punishment for the accused. The information contained in the publication was accurate as per the moment because the primary court ruling had indeed been passed by that time.

In view of all of the above, Novaya Kondopoga is fully justified in trying to defend its rights, including through appeals to the European Court. The legal follow-up of the complaint has been organized by Karelia’s Journalists’ and Media Rights Defense Center led by Elena Paltseva, with assistance from the republican branch of the Journalists’ Union of Russia.

Anatoly Tsygankov,
Glasnost Defense Foundation staff correspondent

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