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Monday, October 29, 2007

Annals of Novaya Gazeta: Trouble in Samara

Novaya Gazeta reports:

License to get to the discordant

Editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Samara has been made the accused. He’s had to give a written cognizance not to leave and now he cannot even come to see his father who is seriously ill.

Editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Samara has been made the accused. He’s had to give a written undertaking not to leave the city and now he cannot even go to see his father, who is seriously ill.

Last Wednesday, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Samara, Sergei Kurt-Adjiev, got at last the written decision notifying him of the initiation of a criminal case against him and was forced to promise he would not leave the city whilst it was pending. We say “at last” because the decision was taken by the Prosecutor’s Office of Samara as far back as 14 May, i.e. five months ago.

The only explanation of such sluggishness by the law enforcement bodies of Samara can be that they just stalled for time trying to find more substantial evidence on Kurt-Adjiev so that to have opportunity to act more grounded. Well, they searched properly, but not with much effect. The proposed charge looks like a caricature: “usage of pirated software belonging to Microsoft and 1C companies.” Investigation estimates the loss of the companies caused by Kurt-Adjiev to be 132,409 rubles and 37 kopecks.

It’s clear why no one was able to explain the logic of this figure to the editor-in-chief of the Samara’s Novaya Gazeta. The matter is that these 132 thousand rubles are not the money actually. This is the consequence of the March of the Discordant held in Samara some time ago, as Kurt-Adjiev’s daughter named Anastasia was one of the organizers.

The law enforcement bodies must have confused ties of relationship with cause-and-effect relation and so they concluded that editorial board of Novaya Gazeta in Samara might agitate the electorate on the eve of the March of the Discordant. They decided not to give such a chance to the popular in town periodical. Out of harm’s way. It was in May that all the computers and accounting documentation were impounded without any explanations made.

If Novaya’s loyalty checking had been finished with that, it might have been considered just as an unpleasant episode. But what began further is called by the military the “cleaning up”.

Officers from Interior Affairs Department visited everyone who collaborated with Novaya Gazeta in Samara. Local branch of Rosokhrankultura was required to suspend registration of the Novaya in Samara under pretext it hadn’t documented its temporary move to another building during the time when repairs was being done in the main office. Then the Director of Novaya Tipographia (printing establishment) was recommended strongly to suspend the contract with the Novaya. Next step was visiting some advertisers and distinct hinting it would be better not to extend contracts with Novaya Gazeta, just to avoid possible troubles.

In September, a statement “signed” by Kurt-Adjiev (he didn’t write anything) was sent to e-mail addresses of all the local media. The forged document reported that Kurt-Adjiev, working together with Electors Rights Protection Association named Voice, regional branch of Yabloko and SPS (Right Forces Union), and also ombudsman in the Samara region Irina Skupova, had come to an agreement with a certain banned in Russia organization Khizb-ut-Tahir which is considered to be extremist one. It’s interesting that all requests by Kurt-Adjiev made to the law enforcement bodies about grounding actions against the Novaya in Samara have not been responded.

Anastasia Kurt-Adjieva has been detained several times with the purpose of “checking operative data”.

The leader of Electors Rights Protection Association named Voice Lyudmila Kuzmina got to be “cleaned up” too. PCs and documentation were impounded from her office with same charge of using pirated software. 27 September she was interrogated as the suspected in the criminal case.

Office memo

”Dear Colleagues,
I must advise you that issuing of the Novaya in Samara region may get suspended before long.

<...> 11 of May we were visited by the officers of Division K who told us they had operative intelligence about using by us non-licensed software. They impounded all our computers.

<...> Then came the team from the regional Interior Affairs Department responsible for struggle against economic crimes.

<...> One of my former business partners called me and said the officers from Interior Affairs Department had visited him and asked about me and the newspaper. Next day I got a fax from Rosokhrankultura related to violation of the law on media by Novaya Gazeta.

<...>Regional Interior Affairs Department also has required the local printing establishment to dissolve an agreement with Novaya Gazeta. <...> The officers also wondered if they could see the contents of the not published yet number.

<...>It has turned out that Combat Against Economic Crime Department has been carrying out the total checking of all organizations who cooperated with us this or that way.

<...>The “statement” “signed” by me was sent from the address oterrussia@mail.ru to all the media of the Samara region. This forged paper informed that our main goal is to interfere in the course of the election campaign, to protect-activists of Nationalist Bolshevist Party against the Russian special services, cooperation with British-American non-commercial organization etc. I won’t enumerate further all this nonsense.

S.O.Kurt-Adjiev.
4 October 2007”

Natalia Chernova

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