Press release, Kirkenes, Murmansk, Luleå, Oulu, September 29th 2015
On Monday 28th of September, Thomas Nilsen was fired from his position as chief editor of the online news site BarentsObserver by the owners of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the three Northern Norwegian county administrations.
STATEMENT FROM BARENTS PRESS INTERNATIONAL, CONCERNING THE RESTRICTION OF BARENTSOBSERVERS' EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Journalists of Karelia complain to Strasbourg
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.
Glasnost Defense Foundation staff correspondent