Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Support Stanislav Dmitrievsky!

You can sign the petition at the following address:

Support Stanislav Dmitrievsky!

Just a decade ago, journalists in Russia were heard and listened to. Their reports and opinions were waited for and discussed. There was demand for independent information. Journalists and human rights activists had real influence on the authorities (among other things,they did a lot to end the first war in Chechnya).

In the several years, the words "Russian journalism" are perceived differently as journalism is becoming increasingly "nationalized," to be more exact, increasingly state-controlled. The number of sources of information that are independent of the state propaganda is decreasing. Television and radio are mostly state-run and only some newspapers maintain independent views and are not subjected to censorship.

The most controlled information is information coming from the Chechen Republic, where, despite official reports, people still get killed and go missing. One of the few independent and alternative sources of information on the events taking place in Chechnya is the newspaper Pravo-Zashchita, which was founded by the public association Nizhny Novgorod Human Rights Society (NOPCh).

On September 2, 2005, the Nizhny Novgorod prosecutor's office charged the paper's editor-in-chief Stanislav Dmitrievsky with crimes envisioned by Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code ("fanning ethnic, racial or religious feud in combination with abuse of office"). Dmitriyevsky is facing three to five years in prison if convicted of the charges.

The criminal case against the journalist was opened in January 2005 based on the publication in Pravo-Zashchita of addresses made by Chechen separatist leaders Akhmed Zakayev and Aslan Maskhadov, which contained calls for a peaceful settlement of the Russian-Chechen conflict. Those publications sharply criticized the Russian government, the Russian army, and personally President Vladimir Putin. Human rights activists consider these charges to be politically motivated and aimed at liquidating the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech. On November 15,2005, the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued a statement, in which it expressed concerns about the pressure put by various public structures on NOPCh and said it intends to give Dmitrievsky the status of a political prisoner if he is convicted of the charges.

The trial began on November 16, 2005. On December 15, Dmitrievsky gave his testimony in court and answered questions the parties' questions. In his testimony, he categorically denied all the charges and said he not only does not consider himself guilty, but is insulted by the prosecutor's office's accusations of racism and xenophobia.

One day before the trial, the Nizhny Novgorod region's court rejected the lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry's Main Registration Department for the Nizhny Novgorod region, which sought the liquidation of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

There is an information war going on against NOPCh in Nizhny Novgorod. Its staff are being threatened with violence (the Nizhny Novgorod region's interior affairs department opened criminal case No. 155200 on October 7, 2005 on the basis of those threats).

On August 15, 2005, the Federal Tax Service's inspection for the Nizhny Novgorod Nizhegorodsky District issued Decision No. 25 to prosecute NOPCh for a tax violation. On September 12, 2005, Justice Yevgeniya Belyakova of the Nizhny Novgorod region's Arbitration Court issued a ruling suspending that decision.

Apparently, the authorities are doing everything to do away with one of the independent sources of information on events taking place in the Chechen Republic and put its editor-in-chief Stanislav Dmitrievsky in prison.

Is Pravo-Zashchita being penalized only for trying to tell people what the state propaganda is not telling them?

Do you agree with it?

If you don't, sign this statement, support Stanislav Dmitrievsky!

Case Materials [Sorry, only russian]

See also in this blog:

Dmitrievsky Trial
Dmitrievsky: Politkovskaya Testifies

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