The Dogs Keep Disappearing in Karelia

Since Karelian authorities launched a campaign against stray dogs, Nikolai, Anastasia and many other citizens have been looking for their pets: They have disappeared and nobody seems to know the fate of their beloved animals.

The reporters Alexandra Zaitseva and Maxim Shumeyko from the project “7×7” tried to find out what happened, and soon found themselves in a maze of existing and non-existing companies and offices. It seems that the authorities simply kill hundreds of dogs every year. Needless to add that this is not what the law states.

Their report was published 19.10.2016

Read the original article (Russian)

Read the English translation

Refuge for Journalists Under Threat

The ECPMF’s Journalists-in-Residence Programme offers media workers under threat a safe environment to rest, recover and continue their journalistic work. The deadline to apply is 12 May 2017.
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is now accepting applications for the next residency cycle (July 2017-January 2018). Participants are provided with free accommodation in Leipzig, Germany and extensive support from the Centre.
On top of a monthly stipend of 1000 euros, the ECPMF covers the costs for travel, visa and private health insurance. In addition, the ECPMF offers its wide-ranging network of media freedom contacts and encourages Journalists in Residence to tap into it and make their voices heard.

Read more

 

Valaam Billions – The Monastery’s Secret

On the Karelian island of Valaam rises the beautiful Patriarchal Men’s Monastery. But reality around it is not quite as beautiful.

The turnover of the business on the island is billions of rubles. The largest state-owned companies are doing business in this area, while the living conditions for local residents become worse. They are squeezed out of the island, of their houses and their jobs. And the main beneficiary of it all is one of the most famous institutions in religious Russia – the Valaam Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church. Gleb Yarovoy, journalist from the media outlet 7×7 in Petrozavodsk, has gathered information about business on the island.

Read the Russian original

The investigation was also published on Medusa, one of the most popular media in Russian

Read the English translation

 

 

 

The Local Pearl Turned Toxic Green

Lake Valdai is known as “the Pearl” of the Novgorod Province. It streches out with an island with a monastery in it. It is a popular holiday spot for families. But one day the water was a toxic green.

Local authorities took a look, confirmed that something was colouring the water and concluded that it was algae forming because of the hot weather. No analysis were made.

Local journalist A. Galaktionov suspected that there was more to the story and went sailing. Together with Alexander Ivanov, an employee of the Federal Agency for Water Resources Novgorod Sector who is also specialized in the particularities of environmental water, they collected  over 20 tanks of water from around the lake. Their analysis showed a different story.

The investigation was published on Valdai.com on September 30, 2016.

Read the Russian original

Read the English translation

 

No Peaceful Rest for the Dead in Vologda

When a family in Babaeyevsky, 300 km from Vologda, opened the coffin of a deceased family member, an unknown person was inside. “People change after death” was one of the explanations from the Health Department. But this person had then changed so much that a tattoo on his back had disappeared.

Another family experienced finding a man inside the coffin instead of the deceased mother. And many families have competing funeral service companies knocking at the door just minutes after the deceased person’s last breath. These companies are owned and operated after work hours by staff from the Forensics Bureau.

Marina Chernova took a closer look at the unruly situation for the dead in Vologda. Her story waspublished in three parts:

Read the original in Russian: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Read the English translation

 

The Broken Dream of a Neat Street

Walking nine streets of the city of Syktyvkar, the reporter Maksim Polyakov from the web media outlet 7×7, counted 14 450 missing or damaged stones in the pavement.

The paving is quite new. The work started in 2006. Most of the streets were covered in 2010 and 2011. One year later the stones started to break. The companies who made the work are in now bankruptcy or close to it. One source says the reason for the many broken stones could be the heavy machineries used when cleaning the snow. Another suggests the stones were laid before they were dry, and therefore are broken. But nobody knows. The city administration doesn’t have money to repair it all. Maksim Polyakov reports that some of the broken areas now are filled with cement.

The investigation was published at the website “7×7” in November 10, 2016.

Read the original investigation

Read the English translation

 

 

Big Interest for SCOOP in Vologda

17 journalists from the area of Vologda visited the first promotion seminar this year for applications to SCOOP Russia 2017.

– The audience was very active and interested. Especially those who already had made up their minds on what kind of topic they wanted to investigate, says Anna Sharogradskaya, director of Regional Press Institute in Saint Petersburg arranging the seminar.

Some of the journalists had not been selected when they applied the first time. The seminar encouraged them to make another application.

Other visitors had already once participated in the SCOOP Russia training. Now they wanted to make another investigation.

On the seminars more experienced investigative journalists encouraged less experienced colleagues to make their own investigations.

This time Tatiana Vorontsova from Saint Petersburg shared her experiences. She has made multiple investigations and also passed the special trainer program at Fojo Media Institute in Kalmar, Sweden.

The other presenters were Anna Sharogradskaya, RPI institute, and Marina Chernova, editor of the Vologda newspaper Premier, presenting her local investigation carried out last year.

According to Anna Sharogradskaya, the presenters had a clear mission besides the ambition to collect applications for SCOOP Russia 2017.

– The goal is to convince the audience that it is important to do investigative journalism, because so many topics are either ignored and uncovered, or intentionally banned as the authorities are not made accountable to the citizens who are also the media audience, Anna Sharogradskaya says.

One subject many attending journalists wanted to learn more about, was how to get access to information that someone try to hide from the citizens.

The promotion seminars are important parts of the information about SCOOP Russia. Last year SCOOP Russia attracted a record number of applications, when 61 journalists applied. First time grantees will recieve a week’s training at the Swedish Press Institute Fojo in Kalmar. It is also possible to apply again for journalists who already have been a part of the project another year.

SCOOP Russia is a peer-to-peer project run by the Danish and Swedish associations of Investigative Journalism FUJ and FGJ, in cooperation with International Media Support IMS in Copenhagen, RPI in Saint Petersburg and Fojo in Kalmar.

The program is open only for journalists in Northwest Russia. The application period close February 15. The application form is to find here.

Future promotions and information seminar will be held in Murmansk, Petrozavodsk and Pskov on the following dates:

  • Murmansk: February 5 11.00 – 16.00, Park Inn Hotel Murmansk, room Rotari. Contactperson Anna Kireeva
  • Petrozavodsk: February 7 16.00 – 19.00, Hotel Severnaya. Contact person Anna Yarovaya
  • Pskov: February 9 13.00 – 17.00, venue TBA. Contact person Aleksey Semenov

Medical Care on Service

During many years the hospitals in Kaliningrad were equipped with computer tomography for use in various state run medical programs. This expensive equipment, financed by the federal Russian tax payers, was supposed to be used in the benefit of the residents in the Kaliningrad region. Today more than a third of them are out of order to be repaired.

Millions of rubels from the regional budget are spent on maintenance of this broken equipment. According to the Ministry of Health this is a natural process. But why are they so often out of order? Maria Pustovaya, journalist at the newspaper Dvornik in Kaliningrad tried to find the answer.

The investigation was published in the newspaper Dvornik and on the website RUGRAD.EU in the autumn 2016.

Read the original article in Dvornik and Rugrad.eu

Read the English translation

 

 

 

 

Russia: Time to apply for support of investigative reporting

We – the International Media Support, IMS, in Copenhagen, the Associations of Investigative journalism in Denmark and Sweden, FUJ and FGJ, in cooperation with the Regional Press Institute, RPI, in Saint Petersburg, Russia and Fojo Media Institute, Sweden – are happy to invite all journalists in the North-West region of Russia to apply for support for an investigative journalism report you would like to conduct in your region.

SCOOP workshop 2016.

The investigation should be useful to your community and interesting to your audience. The work should be intended to be published in a mass media you regularly work for, such as print media, radio, television or web based media.

We offer you assistance to plan your investigation, to participate in a training program at Fojo Media Institute in Kalmar, Sweden, with Russian-speaking trainers, and a follow up master class seminar when your piece has been published. During the work you can get support from our experienced trainers in Russia. You can also apply for financial support for various costs during the work, such as travel or external analysis, and a small fee.

SCOOP Russia is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) This is the seventh year SCOOP Russia is running, and SIDA is supporting the program until 2019.

The supported projects will also be published on the SCOOP Russia website. On the website you can see examples of previous investigations in Russian language as well as in English. If you have questions, you can find contact details on the web page.

Deadline for applications is February 15th. The application form must be properly filled and sent by e-mail to info@scooprussia.org. SCOOP Russia is ready to support 16 applications from new journalists. In addition, a number of reporters who have already received SCOOP training, can get support for a new investigation.It is also possible to apply for a cross-border investigation in cooperation with a colleague from another country.

Our selection period ends March 1st. The training period is planned for 17 – 23 April 2017 and will be held in Kalmar, Sweden.

Only journalists from the Northwest region of Russia can get support and participate in the training.

We are ready to welcome your application!

The staff and volunteers of SCOOP Russia

50 Investigative Journalists Meet in St Petersburg

Fredrik Laurin, reporter at Swedish TV program Uppdrag Granskning, listens to questions from the participants

Fredrik Laurin, reporter at Swedish TV program Uppdrag Granskning, listens to questions from the participants.

“My point is that international illegal fishing can be fought by international cooperation only,” the often-awarded Swedish investigative journalist Fredrik Laurin told his audience of Russian colleagues.

He was one of two Swedish keynote speakers at SCOOP Russia’s first ever conference on investigative journalism held in Russia 9-10 December 2016. The conference is probably the biggest such event held ever in North West Russia.

His point goes for any fishy business that journalists in different countries try to reveal. Fredrik Laurin suggested more international cooperation for the 50 Russian journalists from Northwest Russia who spent two days in Pushkin, just outside Saint Petersburg, to learn more tips and techniques for their work. A majority of the participants came from regions far away from Russias second biggest city Saint Petersburg.

Fredrik Laurins example of illegal fishing was twelve years old. Nevertheless it was relevant, because it was made possible only with help from Russian journalists in Murmansk.

Investigate – and come back later

Another point of Fredrik Laurin was that journalism matters. The investigation on illegal fishing, aired by Swedish TV4 Kalla Fakta, changed the rules on fishing in the European Union. It also embarrassed Scandinavian companies claiming to sell only ethically caught fish, while Fredrik Laurin and his partners Sven Bergman and Joachim Dyfvermark could show this was not true.

Uppdrag Granskning editor Nils Hanson gives tips to make the reporting better.

Uppdrag Granskning editor Nils Hanson gives tips to make the reporting better.

“Now it would be time to make the same investigation again, to find out if illegally caught cod is being sold to the market today as it was then,” he said.

International impact

He also gave examples of more recent investigations having big impact: The investigation on Telia Sonera’s murky cooperation with security services in non-democratic countries such as Uzbekistan and Belarus forced the company to pay a very expensive fine in the United States, the leaders of Telia Sonera lost their jobs and the board has put all their daughter companies in Eurasia on the sell-out list.

The third example was Panama Papers where he cooperated with Russian colleagues among others and where Sven Bergman in cooperation with the Icelandic colleague Johannes Kr. Kristjansson, made the interview forcing Iceland’s prime minister to resign.

Both Telia Sonera and Panama Papers were published in the Swedish television program  Uppdrag Granskning, a flagship of investigative journalism not only in Sweden but also world wide.

The Editor-in-Chief of Uppdrag Granskning, Nils Hanson, outlined a number of tips that can be practised by any investigative journalist. The use of line-by-line fact check and an in-house Devil’s advocate, are two of the principles helping Uppdrag Granskning to avoid errors in their investigations.

It can be done in Russia

After the first day’s examples from Sweden, some of the Russian journalists claimed that it is much easier making investigations in Sweden, but almost impossible in Russia.

Even if this remark contains a lot of truth, the speakers of the second day showed that a lot can be done also in Russia.

Aleksandr Gorshkow, from Azjur and Fontanka, shared his local experience from Saint Petersburg.

He was followed by three very good examples of investigative journalism pieces presented by participants in SCOOP Russia.

First Aleksey Semyonov presented the investigation he and his colleagues on Pskovskaya Gubernia made regarding dead Russian soldiers, returning from the allegedly non-existing war in Ukraine. Their work has been big news in the worlds biggest media.

Next was Svetlana Zobova from Saint Petersburg who has examined why the football club Zenit’s new stadion has not been built yet.

The final example was Roman Romanovskiy from Kaliningrad, who sent the claimed cleaned waste water from the regions waste water treatment facilities on analysis, and found it as dirty as the waste water pumped into the buildings. This year he has repeated his investigation to see what has happened. The result will be published locally in local media in Kaliningrad.

Biggest IJ event in many years

The conference was arranged by the Regional Press Institute in cooperation with the SCOOP coordinators, and RPI director Anna Sharogradskaya gave the closjng remarks.

The conference was arranged by the Regional Press Institute in cooperation with the SCOOP coordinators, and RPI director Anna Sharogradskaya gave the closing remarks.

The closing speech was held by Anna Sharogradskaya, director of the Regional Press Institute, arranging the conference in cooperation with the Russian coordinators of SCOOP Russia and Scandinavian colleagues.

The opening speech was held by SCOOP Russia’s Project Coordinator Börge Nilsson, representing the Swedish and Danish associations for investigative reporting, FGJ and FUJ.

“I am very impressed. This is, as far as I understand, the biggest event of its kind taken place in this part of Russia for many years — if not ever”, Börge Nilsson says.