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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yet Another Valiant Journalist Off to the Neo-Soviet Gulag (should he consider himself lucky it wasn't a bullet in the head)?

The Moscow Times reports that yet another heroic Russian journalist has been sent off the the neo-Soviet gulag for daring to tell the truth about his country.

A Moscow journalist was sentenced to five years in prison Monday on charges of inciting ethnic hatred in reports about the conflict in Chechnya.

Human rights activists and lawyers said the sentence for Boris Stomakhin (pictured left, listening to the verdict), editor of Radikalnaya Politika, a Moscow-based monthly newspaper, was unprecedented in its severity.

"Putting people in prison for words is unfathomable. Some get less prison time for murder," said Boris Timoshenko, head of the monitoring center at the Glasnost Protection Foundation.

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Monday's ruling and expressed hope that it would be overturned.

"Five years is a very serious and troubling sentence," said Nina Ognianova, the organization's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.

"We are seeing fewer and fewer journalists who can provide reliable and truthful reporting on Chechnya," she said.

Last month, Reporters Without Borders ranked Russia 148th out of 168 countries in its World Press Freedom index.

Stomakhin, who also contributed opinion articles to the rebel Kavkaz Center web site, frequently called the presence of federal troops in Chechnya an "occupation," and compared President Vladimir Putin to Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic.

Stomakhin's lawyer, Alexei Golubev, said he planned to appeal the ruling within 10 days, saying it hinged on a dubious linguistic analysis of the journalist's articles.

Moscow's Butyrsky District Court ruled that "Stomakhin approved of the terrorists' actions, which were aimed at destroying the Russian people as a race," Interfax reported.

Stomakhin maintained his innocence Monday, saying he was "tried for his views and not for any real crime."

"In the articles, I expressed my opinion, with which people were free to agree or disagree," Stomakhin said after the sentence was read, RIA-Novosti reported.

An opinion is not a "call to action," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office declined to comment on the sentence Monday, saying she had no information about it.

Golubev said that in comparison to other cases against journalists, Stomakhin's sentence was exceedingly harsh.

Last month, Vladimir Rakhmankov, editor of the web magazine Kursiv, was found guilty of insulting a public official and fined 20,000 rubles ($750) for referring to President Vladimir Putin as "a phallic symbol."

In February, Stanislav Dmitriyevsky was given a suspended two-year sentence for publishing comments from Chechen rebel leaders who were calling for peace talks in 2004. Dmitriyevsky was editor of Pravo-Zashchita, a publication of the Nizhny Novgorod-based Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, which was closed by the authorities last month.

Speaking after Monday's hearing, Prosecutor Dmitry Kulakov said he was satisfied with the ruling, news agencies reported.

Timoshenko of the Glasnost Protection Foundation said he could not understand why the written word had inspired such a harsh prison sentence, while the authorities do not seem to respond similarly to racially motivated violence.

He noted that seven people charged in connection with the 2004 killing of a Tajik girl in St. Petersburg were acquitted of murder charges and received prison terms ranging from 1 1/2 years to 5 1/2 years. The Supreme Court this year upheld their relatively light prison sentences and hooliganism convictions.

"St. Petersburg is becoming downright dangerous for people who don't have a Slavic appearance, and Moscow's outskirts are also moving in that direction," Timoshenko said.

Four dark-skinned foreigners have been killed and dozens of others attacked in St. Petersburg this year, including an Indian medical student and an Uzbek man who were fatally stabbed in September and July, respectively. Students from Africa in St. Petersburg and an Armenian teenager in the Moscow region also died this year in apparent hate crimes.

Despite the rise of racially motivated violence, the authorities seem to be more concerned with statements critical of ethnic Russians than with acts of violence against other ethnic groups, Timoshenko said.

If upheld, Monday's ruling would set a dangerous precedent of prosecuting journalists, Golubev said.

Stomakhin asked the court for leniency because of his disability and the health problems of his mother, whom he supports. Stomakhin was injured during his arrest in March, when he fell from a fourth-story window in a failed attempt to avoid capture. He suffered spinal injuries and a broken leg in the fall and now uses crutches to walk, his lawyer said.

A criminal investigation into Stomakhin's activities was opened in December 2003, but the case did not go to trial until last month because Stomakhin had managed to avoid arrest.

5 comments:

17 ugly raccoons said...

Here you may find some additional material on B. Stomakhin. In Russian, of course.

I am especially glad to read pearls from him like (translation is not too good, but sense is preserved)

"Let tens new Chechen snipers take their places on mountains' slips and cities' ruins and hundreds and thousands aggressors fall from their righteous bullets! No mercy! Death to Russian occupiers!"

Or this: "Explosion in Moscow's metro is justified, natural and lawful. Chechens have full moral right to blow up in Russia everything they want - after that Russia and Russians done with to them, no objections about humanity and philanthropy are acceptable".

Or this: "lawful sentences of Sharia court of Chechen Republic Ichkeria to national-traitors are inevitably executing".

So this 'hero' got 5 years.

I wonder what children he and LR might breed. By Sharia law, of course.

La Russophobe said...

UGLY: Why are Russians so afraid of words? Is it beacause Russia is such a weak and feeble nation that it knows it is capable of being destroyed by words alone? What's more, I thought Russia had the "Chechnya problem" all under control now? Not true? Pity.

Meanwhile, you seem to fail to grasp the basis for freedom of speech. It's to encourage the dissemination of information. Maybe today you don't agree with the information provided by this source and approve his being jailed. But perhaps tomorrow somebody with vital information you need won't publish it because of fear of being arrested. Granted, this understanding is rather advanced and not to be expected of barbaric Russians. However, I doubt Russia has the luxury of waiting centuries to acquire it.

17 ugly raccoons said...

Russia is such a weak and feeble nation that it knows it is capable of being destroyed by words alone

You are giving new meaning to word 'fool'. I am shocked, really...

Any social cataclysms are starting from words. Horrors of French revolution was not possible without work of 'encylopaedists'. Do you know something about how Bolsheviks got their power, why Provisional government failed to keep power? Do you at least have any idea about Hitler's career?

My nation, your nation, any nation could be destroyed by words alone. I did think even you understand this.

Meanwhile, you seem to fail to grasp the basis for freedom of speech. It's to encourage the dissemination of information.

I have no objection to dissemination of meaningful information. Stomakhin's rants are no more meaningful than yours. And these are obviously inciting national hatred. It is a crime in Russia.

Maybe today you don't agree with the information provided by this source and approve his being jailed.

Today, tomorrow and until the end of times I will not desire death to soldiers of my country and I will not approve terrorists' explosion in Moscow's metro. If you cannot say the same about yourself in regards to your country and your nation, then I pity you.

But I am more honorable than you. At least I will not recognize as 'hero' someone who approves murder of US citizens and US soldiers on US soil and desires such murder. Granted, this understanding is rather advanced and not to be expected of barbaric yankee.

But perhaps tomorrow somebody with vital information you need won't publish it because of fear of being arrested.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps I can obtain this info myself, perhaps I can't. Perhaps it will be tomorrow, perhaps never. But it not justifies today's calls of some psycho to kill my friends and destroy my country. BTW, I don't think he should go to jail (there is high probability someone just kills him there for his idiocy), he'd better be in clinic.

However, I doubt Russia has the luxury of waiting centuries to acquire it.

You have full right to doubt anything you want.

La Russophobe said...

UGLY:

You are a neo-Soviet barbarian, with an uncivilized view of both human nature and human history.

My country cannot be destroyed by words alone and I do not fear them. Osama bin Laden can freely publish his words of hatred in the United States to his heart's content, and I would fight on a battlefield to protect his right to do so. The law protects him in doing so. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution flatly bans the U.S. Congress from writing any law to stop him.

You quote your neo-Soviet gibberish, but you ignore the fact that THE USSR HAS BEEN DESTROYED while America continues to lead the world. You're such a profound ignoramus that you go on making the same errors over and over, until Russia is no more.

By the way, your link to Stomakin does not lead to his published articles, it's commentary about his articles. The more offensive and dangerous his speech is, the more it deserves protection. This protection not only facilitates the flow of information but it limits the power of the government. Dictatorship has destroyed Russia several times and will do so again because cavemen like you think a stone wheel is better than a rubber one and fear the light of day.

17 ugly raccoons said...

You are a neo-Soviet barbarian, with an uncivilized view of both human nature and human history.

I am Russian, and you are desperate fool. I know history, at least history of my country, and I do not try to put real men and real nations into the ill-logic, ignorant and badly cut out conceptions for ghost goals of some stupid crusade.

My country cannot be destroyed by words alone and I do not fear them.

Words always lead to actions - idea you obviously cannot comprehend. And your country can be destroyed by words as any other.

Osama bin Laden can freely publish his words of hatred in the United States to his heart's content, and I would fight on a battlefield to protect his right to do so.

Then you are fool. Period.

BTW, when OBL became US citizen and how long he is under US jurisdiction for now?

you ignore the fact that THE USSR HAS BEEN DESTROYED

Lie. I am not ignoring this fact, I am learning from it. If you think the only correct lesson for someone who lost a war is give himself to mercy of winner, you are sadly mistaken. History is never over, and you should look into what became with others who claimed their 'victory' over Russia in some times.

while America continues to lead the world.

A pity world will not agree with you.

By the way, your link to Stomakin does not lead to his published articles, it's commentary about his articles.

You don't read Russian too good, do you? It is official document about his criminal case quoting words which are breaking the law and listing sources of these words. But linked site is dedicated to Stomakhin by his adherents.

The more offensive and dangerous his speech is, the more it deserves protection

The more dangerous man is, the more he deserves protection. Right. Now Stomakhin is under very reliable protection, so don't worry.

This protection not only facilitates the flow of information but it limits the power of the government.

Power of the government is limited not by some abstract 'protection', but by concrete deeds of governed, the same men who Stomakhin wants to die. Now guess three times why they didn't anything to protect him? Maybe because they don't want their children to be murdered by Chechen 'rebels' justified and encouraged by Stomakhin?

cavemen like you think a stone wheel is better than a rubber one

Rubber one? Last time I got interested in that question, I heard car wheels are not made of rubber. Tires yes, but wheels?