European Court of Human Rights condemns Russia in media case
May 20, 2004 12:00 PM ET
New York, May 20, 2004—The European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that Russian authorities used a politically motivated criminal investigation in 2000 to try to take over the print and broadcast operations of Russian media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky.
The Strasbourg, France–based court said that Russian authorities illegally harassed and arrested Gusinsky on charges of fraud in June 2000 to pressure him to sell his controlling stake in the Media-Most company.
Media-Most owned the popular independent national television channel NTV, whose news and current affairs programs regularly criticized government policies, particularly the war in Chechnya.
"During Mr. Gusinsky’s detention, the Acting Minister for Press and Mass Communications had offered to drop the criminal charges against the applicant if he would sell Media-Most to [the state-controlled natural gas monopoly] Gazprom at a price to be determined by Gazprom," the seven judge panel wrote in their unanimous ruling.
The court ruled that Russia violated Gusinsky’s right to liberty and security and instructed Russia to pay for his 88,000 Euro (US$105,600) legal expenses. The court rejected Gusinsky’s request for 1.7 million euros (US$ 2.1 million) in damages.
Pavel Laptev, Russia’s representative at the court, immediately condemned the ruling, calling it "defective both in theory and in fact," the Russian news agency Interfax reported. Russia has three months to appeal the ruling.
Gusinsky—who currently splits his time between Israel and the United States—filed the lawsuit against Russia with the European Court for Human Rights in January 2001.
Background Vladimir Putin’s victory in the March 2000 presidential elections was followed by an alarming assault on press freedom, including a series of orchestrated legal cases against powerful media barons who had gained enormous wealth and influence during the 1990s.
Gusinsky was arrested in June 2000, charged with embezzling state property, and released three days later after agreeing to sell Media-Most, which controlled NTV, Ekho Moskvy radio, the daily newspaper Segodnya, and the weekly news magazine Itogi.
The federal Prosecutor General’s Office dropped the charges in July 2000 but then announced a new investigation after Gusinsky fled to Spain and refused to sell Media-Most, saying he had previously agreed to do so under duress.
Media-Most’s main creditor, Gazprom, continued to pursue Media-Most through Russia’s politicized courts and forcibly occupied NTV headquarters in April 2001 to install a new management team.
Gazprom swiftly closed two Media-Most outlets known for criticizing the government—Segodnya and Itogi—but retained the management of Media-Most’s Ekho Moskvy, formerly the country’s largest privately held news radio station.
Though media analysts say that NTV has retained some of its independent voice under the new management, the station’s anti-Kremlin tone has softened significantly.
Ukrainian reporter held by Moscow-backed separatists forced to confess in Russia state TV interview
August 22, 2018 4:33 PM ET
New York, August 22, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Russian state-run TV channel Rossiya 24's broadcast of an interview with Stanislav Aseyev, a Ukrainian reporter held for more than a year by Russia-backed separatists, in which he falsely confessed to spying for Ukraine. CPJ also reiterates its call...
Killing of 3 Russian investigative journalists in Central African Republic must be probed
August 1, 2018 5:17 PM ET
New York, August 1, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Central African Republic, Russia, and the U.N. to investigate the deaths of three Russian journalists killed while on assignment in CAR....
New York, July 3, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Russian authorities to refrain from labeling individual bloggers and journalists as foreign agents. The State Duma's information and communication committee today approved legislation that would allow authorities to label private persons as foreign agents if they work...
New York, June 19, 2018--Russian authorities should immediately release jailed journalist Aleksandr Valov and ensure that he receives necessary medical care, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The editor-in-chief and founder of local news website BlogSochi, who has been in detention since January on extortion charges, was hospitalized...
Ukraine authorities search Russian news agency, detain director
May 15, 2018 6:11 PM ET
New York, May 15, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern over the Ukraine Security Service's (SBU) search of the Kiev office of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti and detention of the office director, Kirill Vyshynsky....