The address from Russian journalists to international human rights organizations

Dear colleagues,

With high respect of your activities to protect professional rights of the journalist community we would like to attract your attention to outrageous facts of pressure and physical violence used against journalists that took place on July 11-12, 2006, in Moscow during Another Russia conference.

The unprecedented actions to impede the work of mass media were organized by the people who position themselves as almost the only defenders of civil freedoms in Russia. This fact seems to be extremely concerning.

On July 11, Pravda.Ru correspondents Andrei Scherbakov and press photographer Sergei Ivanov were denied access to the conference room in spite of the fact that they had applied for accreditation and received the needed press cards in advance. Security guards from the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) insulted the journalists and threatened them demonstrating their aggressiveness.

The same day, an accredited correspondent of the business newspaper Vzglyad, Tatiana Kosobokova, was taken out of the conference room in a rude manner. NBP activists twisted her arms and forced her out of the room saying “There are media whose presence here is undesirable! The Vzglyad newspaper should not be here!” A journalist of the Vedomosti newspaper Kira Latukhina, attempted to defend her colleague, but she was taken out of the room for it too. NBP members took away the camera from correspondent of German magazine Focus, Boris Reitschuster.

Before the start of the second day of the conference, the organizers conducted a “selection” of journalists covering the event. They carried out this action being guided with their own sympathies and antipathies. The accreditation of a Yoki.Ru correspondent Igor Kulagin was terminated. The press secretary of Another Russia conference, Natalia Morar, failed to give a clear explanation of the events. She only said that they had received information about a provocation that the publication was supposedly preparing, which eventually became the reason to withdraw the accreditation.

As you know, the Russian law about press has been recognized one of the most progressive laws in Europe and the world. It clearly states that state authorities and public organizations may decline a journalist accreditation only if a journalist has been proved guilty of distributing slanderous ideas against the organizers of public events, and if there is an active court decision on the matter. We hereby declare that none of the mentioned journalists has ever been involved in any trials to defend honour and dignity or business reputation of natural and legal entities participating in the organization of Another Russia conference.

Nowadays, when the West actively attacks Russia for violation of democratic freedoms, one should take account of quite an important detail. A tendency has been developing in Russia recently to divide journalists into friendly and hostile individuals. This vicious practice is used by the political opposition first and foremost. These forces have no wish or persuasive arguments, and they avoid a public discussion virtually buying complimentary commentaries from affiliated media outlets. This explains the narrow information space of the ideological adversaries of the Kremlin. We can only feel sorry about this sectarianism. However, hooligan actions with insults and physical assault against journalists are absolutely unacceptable and need to be publicly condemned.

We believe that the above-mentioned information is a good reason to blacklist the guilty persons, because their actions correspond to the principal position of your respectable organization: to publicly denounce those who personally committed a severe crime against journalists or media and was not punished for it.

We think that the organizers of Another Russia conference are guilty of their outrageous actions taken against journalists deliberately or not. They are the cochairmen of the Russian Civil Congress which initiated Another Russia conference: Garry Kasparov, the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alekseeva, the President of INDEM foundation Georgy Satarov and the leader of the National Bolshevik Party Eduard Limonov.

Hoping for your unbiased estimation of the events that took place in Moscow on July 11-12, 2006,

Inna Novikova

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov