HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Copies of the May edition of the monthly magazine Smolensk in the central Russian city of Smolensk were withheld by printer, Mikhailov Print Factory. The issue carried an article by magazine co-founder and Member of Parliament Viktor Drenkovsky criticizing Smolensk Gov. Viktor Maslov’s economic policies.
Vladimir Korenev, chief editor of Smolensk and general director of its parent company, told CPJ that he filed a complaint May 2 with the Smolensk prosecutor’s office. Korenev said advertisers later told him that the governor reproached them for placing ads in Smolensk. And subscribers from public institutions, including libraries, hospitals and schools cancelled their subscriptions, he said.
Korenev himself was targeted in the coming days. He was fired on May 5 after, he said, Maslov had pressured the company’s owners. The next week, Korenev said, Vice Gov. Aleksandr Abramenkov filed a criminal libel suit against the editor. The case was dismissed after a two-month investigation.
On July 24, the prosecutor ruled that the printer had committed no crime. The printer had produced a receipt purporting to show Korenev had signed for all 3,000 copies.
In a telephone interview, Korenev told CPJ that he received only 100 of the 3,000 copies. He acknowledged signing an April 25 receipt in good faith, with the belief that the printer would give him the rest of the copies within a few days. “The thought that they would seize the print run never crossed my mind!” The magazine changed printers after the incident.