Russia: Krasnoyarsk journalist threatened over corruption reports

November 5, 1999

His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Federation

Via Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173 / 206 6277

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is greatly alarmed by a murder attempt and series of death threats against Sergei Zhubinsky, a reporter with the privately-owned local XXI Vek television station in Achinsk, in the Krasnoyarsk region.

In early May, Zhubinsky began receiving anonymous telephone calls threatening him and his family. The callers ordered Zhubinsky to stop broadcasting a series of investigative reports about corruption at the Achinsk Alumina plant that he produced for the station XXI Vek TV. The plant employs about half the city’s working population.

Zhubinsky’s broadcasts investigated reports that Nail Nasyrov, the plant’s director, had embezzled company profits and defrauded the regional administration of tax revenues by selling aluminum at below-market prices. Zhubinsky also reported on lax safety standards at the plant, which were blamed for the deaths of two employees.

On August 19, Zhubinsky found an explosive device attached to the underside of his car, which was parked outside his house in Achinsk. The bomb was set to explode when the car was moved. Zhubinsky informed the regional authorities, who managed to defuse and remove the device.

There were no more death threats for about three weeks. But in early September, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksander Lebed fired Nasyrov for corruption. After Zhubinsky praised this decision on the air, the threats resumed. When Zhubinsky showed up at the plant to interview employees, Nasyrov’s assistant Victor Ostravlanchik threatened him in person.

As a nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of our colleagues around the world, CPJ condemns all threats and acts of violence against Zhubinsky in response to his professional work. These actions can only foster a climate of fear and intimidation among Russian journalists, a climate that greatly inhibits press freedom.

Reminding Your Excellency of Russia’s international commitments to guarantee the rights of journalists to work freely and safely, we urge you to ensure that local law enforcement officials investigate the attempted murder of Sergei Zhubinsky and prosecute those found responsible.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director

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His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Federation

Via Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173 / 206 6277