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20.08.2009

Russia: editor faces criminal libel charges

   

According to information from the Information Agency “Khakasia”, Mikhail Afanasyev, Chief Editor of the Internet publication “Novy Fokus” [New focus] is facing a criminal investigation. He is accused of spreading knowingly false information on the Internet about the situation on the Sayano-Shushenskaya power station in Siberia following an explosion on 17 August

According to the RFE/RL site, shortly before being detained by police in Abakan, Afanasyev told them that there was evidence that there are indeed survivors trapped in rooms below the water level at the Sayano-Shushenskaya power station -- and that time is running out to rescue them.
"According to information from relatives and those working at the station, there are survivors," Afanasyev said. "As late as yesterday evening [August 18], until late at night, they could be heard knocking. I have been summoned to the prosecutor’s office and asked for an explanation."

Afanasyev was also among the signatories of an e-mail circulating this week that accused the authorities of "concealing information" about the disaster. "Some media have come to our aid (BBC), but this is not enough," the e-mail read. "Let us do everything to save lives."
The investigators are claiming that at the time Afanasyev made his statements, he had accurate and official information that uninterrupted work was in progress to liquidate the consequences of the disaster and say that all necessary measures were being taken to find survivors.

According to the RFE/RL report, pressure is mounting on the Russian authorities over their handling of the search-and-rescue effort, and it is by no means only Mikhail Afanasyev who believes they are not being told the whole truth.

From information at www.rferl.org and www.grani.ru

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