The accusation of journalist Ivan Safronov of transferring information about the supply of Russian weapons to other countries to the Czech special services has stirred up the media space. I immediately remembered last year’s case of Golunov, a fresh story with a half-million fine to Svetlana Prokopieva, and other precedents, which turned out to be not so few ...
"Homeland Trade": some are recognized, others are sitting
About a year ago, the former chief editor of Kommersant, Andrei Vasiliev, told Nikolai Solodnikov in an interview for Not Yet Pozner: “But I just quit Kommersant at that time and at first I felt pretty good, because my Leonid Miloslavsky’s partner (former director general of Kommersant Publishing House in 1996-2001, with a break in 1999 due to a scandal with an article about Deputy Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, ed.) traded in the Motherland - we sold military secrets to which something to the Japanese, by the way, the Japanese after that became the "Journalist of the Year" in Japan. And he paid ... ”To the interviewer's question, where did these secrets come from, Vasiliev answered:“ the black colonels ”! Those who protect her, we bought. ” This frank recognition of the media manager went unnoticed. Is it possible to imagine that now Vasiliev’s revelation would have passed by the security forces (even those who are good with a sense of humor)? However, for the Japanese and the secrets handed down by the Kommersant journalist, they were punished, however, of another. This is the story of Grigory Pasko, who was accused of high treason for transferring secret information to Japan in 2001 (sentenced to 4 years in prison, but released ahead of schedule in 2003). Safronov is the second journalist accused of treason. But there have been plenty of court cases against the authors of various publications under other articles in recent years. And this is a bright sign of our time.
In the USSR, there was no need to invent any special methods of pressure on journalists. Journalists then were, including very talented. And there were even revealing articles, after which they shot party functionaries. But the authors themselves were not concentrated at that time, because what and how to write, who could be exposed - all this was strictly controlled and descended on the order. Now the names are important - recent trials demonstrate this.
Work at risk for life. The murders of journalists in the 90s and 2000s
Relatively new "trends" in the fight against unwanted opinions and investigations began to appear in the 90s. Between 1993 and 2000, inclusive, according to the Russian Journalists database, 110 journalists were killed in our country. Of course, some of them were accidental victims in places of military and anti-terrorist operations, but still 82 of them became victims of murder. Moreover, the number of convictions for these crimes is negligible - until 2000 there were only 13.
Then a violent way to solve the problem was the easiest. In 1994, Dmitry Kholodov (27 years old), who worked on an investigation into the illegal sale of weapons to Chechen separatists, died from the explosion. But in the suitcase from the source of information were not important documents, but a bomb. The following year, Vladislav Listyev was shot dead, and in 2000 Igor Domnikov, the author of critical publications about the vice-governor of the Lipetsk region, Sergey Dorovsky, was killed. And it was Dorovsky who, according to the investigation, was the customer of the attack. In 2003, Yury Shchekochikhin, who was engaged in investigative journalism, was poisoned. In general, the wave of physical elimination continued until 2002, when a total of 20 journalists were killed. By 2012, the method of "direct elimination" has practically come to naught.
True, the media here does not constitute some kind of exceptional picture. A sharp increase in the number of deaths resulting from murders in Russia, which began in 1991, peaked in 2002 - 44 thousand people. We can say that journalists are a mirror of the processes taking place in the country. Due to their publicity, the most prominent of them are well known to people, people sympathize with them and see them as defenders of their interests, often, a journalist becomes the last hope to receive protection and assistance in conditions when government institutions do not work.
The heyday of the market economy: the heyday of the paid “order”
Of course, they didn’t always kill. More often, however, they bought. There are famous recordings of telephone conversations of Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Nevzorov, which report on custom-made "drain" of information, and the odious, but certainly talented Sergei Dorenko himself frankly admitted that he participated in the paid campaign against Yuri Luzhkov. Money decides a lot, even Dmitry Peskov admitted it in 2012, accusing the media of corruption and publishing custom-made materials. To which the head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, Kirill Kabanov reasonably replied: “There is always and everywhere bribery of journalists, as well as corruption. But it is not initiated by journalists, not citizens in our country, it is initiated by the bureaucracy, special conditions are created for corruption to appear. ”
Powerful Security Officers: Arresting Cheaper Than Buying
Gradually, interested persons began to fall into an awkward situation: killing is too dangerous and troublesome, and it doesn’t work out quietly, and bribing everyone in a row is expensive and not always effective. As a result, a course was taken to exert pressure through restrictions in the legislative field and the arrangement of “right people” at the head of the editorial offices. As Maria Lipman, editor-in-chief of Counterpoint magazine, noted in 2017, the main way to control the media is to set up loyal executives who have something to lose. In 2001, they got rid of Gusinsky and Berezovsky, and later, by 2013, a law appeared on blocking Internet sites without trial, in 2014 the share of foreign ownership of Russian media was legislatively limited to 20%. Now, putting pressure on the management of the publication is not a problem, because it certainly exists in the Russian legal field. Blocking a site or blog is also not difficult (and it works - few sit constantly with the VPN on ).
And once the regulatory framework has been created, then it is now possible to prosecute journalists according to the law. In the early 2000s, trials of journalists were unique cases (the same Pasko case when, as Ivan Pavlov (lawyer of Ivan Safronov) notes , the case was instituted for his journalistic activities). Now, the arrest of journalists for any reason has become a routine for law enforcement agencies. In the media, such events also receive publicity, but people quickly lose interest in them. In addition to the most high-profile cases, of course.
The stories of Golunov and Prokopieva are one of the most striking, but the scale of the actions of the “hand of justice” is much wider. In March, journalist Yaroslav Varenik was fined in the Arkhangelsk region for extremism for publishing news about a local resident fined under this article; in April, a criminal case was filed on the editor-in-chief of Reporter-NN website for publishing notes on his personal Telegram channel the temples served during the pandemic, in May they detained Ilya Azar for a solitary picket, and a series of detentions followed for solitary pickets in support of Azar.
Co-founder of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov notes that the regulatory framework is constantly being modernized and is confidently moving along the road to tighten the screws:
- We see a steady upward trend. Golunov, Frenkel, Prokopyeva, prosecution in the regions under the law of "faknews." In Ufa, for example, Roskomnadzor issued a warning to reporters for news officially received from the local administration. Previous rules can be repealed by new laws. And the Press Law and all laws governing the media have ruled over the past few years at least 50 times. The new legislation is such that the media, without breaking the law, cannot work. For example, Roskomnadzor issued a warning to the Gagarin Park publication in Samara that it was daily, and on Sunday they did not update the news. Then they started on Sunday to publish news only about Roskomnadzor. Now they want to close them because the founder had a foreign grant. We are also legally entitled not to disclose information sources. And if we don’t open it, then they say that it’s a fake news.
Forced “oblivion” and voluntary departure into the shadows
But since ancient times, the most terrible punishment was considered exile. So for a person who conveys information to the masses, weaning from information distribution channels and immersion in complete oblivion sometimes becomes worse than any other pressure. That’s what they did to Leonid Parfyonov. At first he was a top journalist, and then suddenly disappeared from the TV screens. It’s easy to get on the lists of disagreeable people who are barred from accessing TV channels. Fortunately, you can now start a YouTube channel and there to promote your videos uncensored. But creating your own quality material costs a lot of money. Moreover, on the principle of “innocent does not happen” you can find a reason for the criminal case and for journalists who have become bloggers. The platform for expressing your thoughts does not matter. So, the development of the criminal case of the founder of the project “Police Ombudsman” continues. Vladimir Vorontsov is accused of extorting money for the non-distribution of personal photographs and the dissemination of pornography. Also under the article on extortion was Igor Rudnikov, editor-in-chief of the Kaliningrad opposition publication, who published investigations about the undeclared property of officials.
But other people came to the place of those arrested and killed. Sent to oblivion find new broadcast formats and sometimes become even more popular. The journalists who left the pre-trial detention center or the colony do not quit their job - the same Ivan Golunov did not abandon the investigation. Now his name in the title has become “a mark of quality.
Dmitry Muratov also notes that all these oppressions give the authorities only a temporary and local result:
- Suddenly, alternative sources began to appear - business, investigative, with Pulitzer's laureates, relevant women's projects, high-quality media, news agencies began to develop in the regions.
Grigory Pasko answers the question in such a way whether the conclusion influenced his future work: “The profession of a journalist is, first of all, communication skills, the ability to communicate with different people. A prison is the same communication with different people. I imagined that I was on a business trip. "
This series of arrests, detentions, criminal and administrative cases can go on for a very long time. Does this guarantee the innocence of Ivan Safronov? No, and the fact that he is indeed a spy of Czech special services cannot be ruled out. It is entirely conceivable that after this case, for example, an exchange of arrested scouts will follow.
So the journalist Oleg Lurie , who was also once forced to fight charges in court, is in no hurry to defend Safronov:
- My case was frankly ordered, it was recognized by everyone - both the investigation and the court. Now all these people are fired. Safronov’s case is completely different. Since the special services, the FSB work, if it is known to which country the information was transmitted, then the transmission moments were recorded. The fact that he just published something is complete nonsense. A journalist has the right to obtain information. There are clearly recorded meetings. 7 volumes of business! He was clearly tracked for more than one year. There is some evidence base. Without this, neither the FSB nor the SVR will go, because there will be a lot of noise and tantrums. Golunov has a custom business. And here there is clearly something.
True, most of the journalistic community, like many ordinary inhabitants, do not share the views of Lurie. Since the discrediting of trust in law enforcement bodies after the same Golunov case is enormous, and after 2012 the article on high treason became extremely vague and uncertain (you may not even have access to state secrets and not even suspect that you are distributing classified information in someone’s interests) the public is inclined justify in advance almost anyone who fell into the hands of the security forces of a journalist. Not just because Russia last year took 149 place out of 180 possible countries in the ranking of press freedom.
“Humanization” of the attitude towards journalists is obvious: they were simply killed before, but now they are being jailed or fined depending on the degree of objection. We see increased pressure on freedom of speech and a demonstration of a point of view different from the official one in the legal field. The weakest point of the media, journalists and leading bloggers is their fame. The siloviki know very well who needs to be pressed on to get the desired result. A natural development of events in the future is the departure of journalists and the media in the “gray zone”. But alternative sources of information are increasingly chosen by citizens. Again: a general trend demonstrating that the media space is a mirror of the processes taking place in society. A study by the Public Opinion Foundation published in late June shows that 50% of Russians prefer traditional media, which means television, radio, and newspapers. And network resources alone provide information for 41% of respondents. And the share of Internet resources will grow: only 20% of respondents aged 18 to 30 prefer traditional media. And only in a group older than 46 years old traditional resources find more fans than online publications.
More and more professionals will choose the same Telegram with anonymous channels. And there, "ordering" reigns supreme. So there is every chance to return to the good old way of bribing authors (albeit now anonymous) and publishing custom materials. Well, as they like to say in Telegram, we stock up on popcorn.