The Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO finds the statement of Presidential Envoy in the Northwestern Federal District Ilya Klebanov when he addressed journalist Alexei Makhlov incompatible with his high post.
On May 28 Ilya Klebenov made the following statement commenting on MakhlovТs Open Letter, УIf you are demanding truth from us, you should be also truthful Ц this is my position. If you begin lying, you permit us to treat you in a dishonest wayФ.
Thus, a high official threatened with unlawful actions to a journalist who had published undesirable information. Moreover the right to judge whether the information was trustworthy or not Klebanov reserved for himself.
In this case the official called the facts about acute social problems in the Kaliningrad Region given in the open letter and evidence on persecution of journalists publishing such facts a УlieФ.
In particular, Makhlov wrote about closing of the Rehabilitaiton Centre for Children with ICP, as the regional government had stopped financing of the centre, as well as fraud with Sberbank loans. In the first case the Dvornik (Street Cleaner) newspaper, where Makhlov works, sharply criticised the regional authorities and also drew attention of the federal centre to the problem. In the second case the journalists conducted their own investigation and came to a conclusion that a businesswoman, a close relative of one of high officials of the interior of the Kaliningrad Region, may be meddled in arranging fake loans leading to 7 - 8 bln roubles of SberbankТs losses.
After such publications a charge of bribing a road policeman was set against Makhlov, and editor-in-chief of the Dvornik paper A.Shabunin had to face another charge - †an automobile-pedestrian accident, as well as disappearing from the place of the accident. Furthermore, the Interior Office of the Kaliningrad Region began investigation of the economic performance of the editorial board. Journalists also stated that their telephones were bugged and the staff were under surveillance.
Such information spread in the media and had great public resonance, thus Klebanov had to be aware of it. However, instead of investigating the facts connected with the work of the officials, Klebanov chose to threaten the journalists.
The YABLOKO party addresses the Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev with a demand to take investigation of the situation in Kaliningrad under his personal control and conduct careful audit of the actions of the interior in Kaliningrad region.
The YABLOKO party thinks that KlebanovТs threatening to the journalists is sufficient for considering his dismissal and calls President Medvedev to examine this issue.†
Freedom of Speech