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                           The Capital 
As amassed by Vladimir Solovyov, Expanded and Amended Version 

 

Everybody remembers the ‘rating’ results of the survey of Russia’s most corrupt journalists which appeared on this web-site in March 2009. That was a trial stone thrown into the ocean of Russian journalism which stirred up a storm of disbelief, indignation and resentment on the part of Russian public and also from the camp of  the favorite in the steeple chase for dubious journalistic prosperity, the TV host Vladimir Solovyov.

His indignation is easy to explain. He understood full well that the position of the leader belonged to him by right, for no one of active servants of the pen and microphone can compare with Solovyov in terms of the compensation he commands, which he announces personally when he meets with his clients, or through his producers,  according to our source. Another important reason for the indignation could be explained by the potential consequences of such leadership. 

The consequences, indeed, were forthcoming. No media executive would be happy to have his hosts mixed up in dubious stories involving dirty money received from God knows whom. Hardly had a month gone by after the rating went public when Solovyov found himself in the middle of yet another scandal. Two PR-racketeers were detained in Moscow in April for extorting money from the banker Pugachev. One of the offers on the part of the extortionists was that Vladimir Solovyov would stop his attacks on the banker. Indeed, Solovyov had taken part in the persecutions of the banker on air in the radio shows of “Serebryany Dozhd” (Silver Rain) and even invited him to his TV program “K Barieru” (Challenge) on NTV. That was the last drop for the NTV General Manager Vladimir Kustikov who lost his patience with Vladimir Solovyov and fired him from NTV.

In order to apprehend the possible accusations of being prejudiced and lacking objectivity, even though the rating was prepared with the participation of our Russian colleagues, we decided to summarize the current possessions of Vladimir Solovyov and quote the current value of some of his assets. Please note that all the numbers  can be supported with documentation and are based on direct sources, whose accounts will be published if necessary.

1. A villa in Italy on the shores of Lago di Como in the town of Pianello del Lario, on via Grotti, 3 floors, 16 rooms with service buildings on the property and a private dock for a yacht. Mr. Solovyov often tells his friends about “his” Italian house and is not shy to reveal its price of 4,500,000 euros. He often flies there for a weekend and talks about his impressions in his blogs and on  air. After he bought the house in Italy he started learning Italian. The title to the villa is held by the offshore company Honor International LLC.  [Is Solovyov the de facto owner of Honor?]  Russian oligarchs usually resort to this method for concealing their revenues and real estate assets, so Mr. Solovyov was not a trailblazer in his attempt to hide his non-transparent incomes. So, he has a villa in Italy worth 4, 500, 000 euros ($6,500,000).
2. A house in Peredelkino, in the community Frunzinets, Karl Marx Street, 8 km from Moscow. This is a country house area of high prestige where famous Soviet writers and poets, such as Boris Pasternak, Korney Chukovsky, Konstantin Simonov, Bulat Okujava, Evgeny Evtushenko and Andrey Voznesensky used to live. For reasons of ethics, we are not publishing a picture of the house since Solovyov and his family make this house their permanent residence. According to the most conservative estimates, the house in Peredelkino is worth $3,000,000.

3. Three apartments in Dolgorukovskaya Street, 160, 158 and 165 square meters respectively (purchased from a well-known music producer A. Tolmatsky), united into one, beautifully decorated, appointed and furnished, with a glass roof, even now, at the time of crisis, easily worth at least five million dollars. Thus, his 3 apartments on the same floor have  a value of $5,000,000.
4. On the same street and in the courtyards, Mr. Soloviev owns 6 parking spaces. At current prices they are worth over half a million dollars. Thus, 6 parking spaces in parking garages on Dolgorukovskaya Street worth over $500,000.
5. There is another apartment transferred to Mr. Solovyov by the head of the Druzhba construction company for his assistance in stopping his [whose?] criminal prosecution, located at Staraya Pimenovskaya Street  . The apartment is on the seventh floor of the building, and its real value (according to the information obtained from the buyers of the apartment <http://compromat.ru/page_22913.htm> ) is 1,850,000 euros ($2,500,000).


6. This is not all – there is another apartment at 12/2 Malaya Filevskaya Street, Building 1, with the area of 41.2 square meters. It is worth, very conservatively, $1,500,000.
7. Almost complete is a big new three-storey house in the town of Bakovka, the new residential development of Moscovia, not far from Peredelkino, on the famous Pasternak field, in the park zone of the Bakovka Preserve. The
realtors estimate the value of the house at $5,000,000.
8. Mr. Solovyev’s automobile fleet consists of 8 cars, including the Italian E-Class Mercedes with the title held by an Italian citizen, constantly located at Lago di Como. Let us name at least those cars that are registered to the former TV host: Audi A8 (two of them), a Mercedes Benz R500, a Mercedes Benz S600, a Jeep Wrangler, a Porsche Carrera and a Hummer H2. Practically each  vehicle has a special package. Even if you do not take into account the cars registered to his closest relatives, the total worth of Mr. Solovyov’s auto fleet is over $1,000,000.

By doing the simple math we see that the total personal worth of the setting TV star is at least $25,000,000.  Obviously, no Russian journalist can earn such a fortune. The conclusion is that Vladimir Solovyov holds by right the first place in the rating of RussiaMediaWatch <http://www.compromat.ru/page_27678.htm>. Of course he may choose to continue to play innocent and yell at every street corner that they have belied his reputation, that he still considers himself an honest journalist, that all of this is the provocation of special services, etc., and that his salary is his only source of income. But based on the current situation, a radio host’s salary is barely enough to pay his security guards, drivers and two round-the-clock guards who take turns keeping vigil by the star’s house.

They usually say to the disgruntled athletes who fail the selection to the Olympic teams, “Look at the scoreboard, it is all there”.
Vladimir Rudolphovich, take a look at the scoreboard, it is all there…

 

URGENT!

RUSSIA: Another independent journalist beaten in Moscow Region



New York, March 20, 2009—Russian authorities should thoroughly investigate the March 12 beating of Maksim Zolotarev, an editor at the independent newspaper Molva Yuzhnoye Podmoskovye in the town of Serpukhov, Moscow Region, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Zolotarev told Radio Svoboda—the Russian Service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty—that three unidentified men in hooded jackets first attacked him with pepper spray, then beat him with clubs when he was leaving his apartment building for work at around 12:30 p.m. He said the assailants fled the scene in their Mitsubishi sedan, parked in front of Zolotarev’s building. The journalist is now recovering at home from bruises on his left arm, spine, and thigh, Radio Svoboda reported. Zolotarev said he considers the attack retaliation for the paper’s reporting on corruption. He told Radio Svoboda he is resigning from the paper as a result. “They tried to intimidate me and they’ve succeeded,” Zolotarev told the radio. “We are alarmed by what has become systematic violence against regional journalists who work on sensitive subjects in Russia, and call on authorities to take all appropriate measures to sever the cycle of impunity,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “The attack on Maksim Zolotarev is emblematic of the chilling effect physical attacks against journalists have on press coverage. Serpukhov law enforcement officials should investigate this attack thoroughly and aggressively, and bring all assailants to justice.” Zolotarev’s lawyer, Igor Ogorodnikov, told Radio Svoboda that regional police have not yet opened an investigation. He said investigators are taking witnesses’ statements, but that he felt they were not taking Zolotarev’s statement seriously, Radio Svoboda reported. The lawyer said the police refused to open a requested probe or conduct a forensic medical exam. This is the fourth in a series of recent attacks against journalists in the Moscow Region. In November, unidentified assailants beat nearly to death independent editor Mikhail Beketov, whose critical reporting put him at odds with the Khimki town administration. He is still hospitalized in serious condition in a Moscow clinic. In January, Anastasiya Baburova, a 25-year-old freelancer for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov were shot and killed in a broad daylight moments after the two left a press conference in downtown Moscow. Most recently, unidentified assailants attacked Yuri Grachev, editor of pro-opposition weekly Solnechnogorsky Forum, when the journalist was about to enter his apartment building in the city of Solnechnogorsk. Found unconscious by his neighbors, Grachev was hospitalized with a concussion, broken nose, and lacerated cheek. No arrests in these attacks have yet been reported.


CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information visit www.cpj.org.
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FYI

Press Training Changing Slowly in Russia, Journalist Finds

Journalism education remains rooted in Soviet past, says S. Adam Cardais

 

A RUSSIAN JOURNALISM PRIMER
By S. Adam Cardais
Global Journalist, Spring 2009

Journalism education remains rooted in its Soviet past, but change is coming.

When University of Missouri Professor Byron Scott went to Russia in 2003 to help reshape the journalism curriculum at Moscow State University, it didn't take him long to see that there would be some considerable resistance to change.

Students largely applauded efforts to modernize the curriculum through the introduction of Western teaching techniques such as Power Point presentations and class discussion, while the faculty was harder to win over.

“After some shock and surprise, once [the students] decided we were serious, they responded very well," says Scott. The senior professors, on the other hand, “came to my seminars (on pedagogical technique), listened politely, asked polite questions – and then did things as they had done before.”

Though the Russian journalism education system has changed some since the fall of the Soviet Union, it also remains cemented in tradition.

“I would say it hasn't changed a lot,” says Vitaly Vinichenko, deputy dean of the Informatics department in the School of Philology and Journalism of Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don. “It's still the same as in Soviet years.”

For financial, administrative and philosophical reasons, Russian journalism education has held onto a conservative, largely theoretical pedagogy. It has been slow to modernize. This has resulted in a system that ill-prepares graduates to work in an immature and politically stifled media landscape.

THEORY OVER PRACTICE

More than 100 educational institutions offer journalism education in Russia, the largest being MSU. Yassen Zassoursky was the dean of its journalism school for 42 years before leaving the post in November 2007, and has been on faculty for more than 50 years. In that time, he's seen great change in Russian journalism education.

Under the Soviet system, he said, “journalists were seen as soldiers of the Communist Party. Today, education is targeted toward students making their own conclusions.”

At the same time, however, many media and education experts in and outside of Russia say its modern journalism curriculum hasn't traveled very far from the Soviet era. Courses emphasizing domestic and international media history, literature and language instead of training in reporting or editing are the norm.

Vinichenko points out that journalism educators see their job as giving students a broad cultural knowledge base, while internships are supposed to provide so-called "craft skills" such as reporting or interviewing.

The craft model, practiced by many top American universities, heavily emphasizes practical journalism skills such as crafting a lead and the inverted pyramid style of news writing. Professor Mitchell Stephens of New York University, an architect of the Russian-American Journalism Institute, cautions however against galvanizing the American approach as the world model.

"You could say journalism education in the [United] States is stuck on the craft model” at the expense of teaching a broader, more analytically oriented curriculum, Stephens says. The result, he continues, is a dry, often boring U.S. media that are “trying to muzzle what they really think.”

American schools also encourage students to gain experience through internships, but the Russian strategy - that universities will teach the theory while the real world will teach the practical - is precarious because the media aren't prepared to train students or recent graduates, according to Russian academics and editors.

THE UNPREPARED GRADUATE

Vinichenko says his students are required to intern during breaks between years but often come back with clips resembling public relations statements, and that good internships under competent, experienced reporters and editors at top publications are few.

MSU sends its students “to serious newspapers where editors make it clear that they want news, not public relations," Zassoursky says.

Studies evaluating the preparedness of Russian graduates to enter the workplace are hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence suggests students lack basic skills for making the leap from the classroom to the newsroom.

A journalism degree does not appear to carry much value in the eyes of the Russian media. Kirill Kharatian, deputy editor-in-chief of the Russian-language business newspaper Vedomosti, comments that a degree, "is not a plus. Outstanding people with journalism education can be good journalists, but that's because of character, not education.”

Ultimately, the overriding message is that graduates leave university unprepared. They are not learning the basic skills necessary for entry-level positions either at school or first-rate internships, the latter of which are by all accounts scarce.

From an educational standpoint, what's the solution? If students aren't learning fundamental, essential skills at school or in the workplace, how are they supposed to learn them?

TOP-DOWN EDUCATION REFORM

One answer is through cooperation with Western universities. Daria Shlyakhina is a student who participated in the Russian-American Journalism Institute. She speaks glowingly about the experience, saying the program redefined her understanding of journalism and changed her professional life.

During the intrusive four-week course, American and Russian instructors taught a range of subjects, from a seminar on blogging to broadcasting and editing. The students also published the RAJI Times magazine.

“It was much different,” Shlyakhina says. “In our university, we have [many] theoretical lessons. We have just a few journalistic topics. But at RAJI we studied journalism 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and after this went out to write stories."

Another example of western-style journalism education was the Educated Media Foundation. Gillian McCormack is a consultant with Internews Europe who worked in Russia coordinating journalism training programs with the foundation before the nongovernmental organization was forced to suspend its operations last April.

McCormack says she sees the government crack down on NGOs as linked to "a heightened suspicion of what such organizations do” over the last several years following democratic changes in Georgia and Ukraine. At the moment, she says, the Kremlin wants media to know their place and stay in line.

Putin’s strong grip dearly impedes Russian journalism education outside universities, both in the newsroom and from NGOs. Ultimately, though, the future of the Russian news business could prove pivotal to the future of Russian journalism education.

This will hinge on if and how the political climate develops under recently elected President Dmitrv Medvedev's administration.

"The problem with the climate now is that the government wants loyal and uncritical media, which means they are effectively being constrained from doing their job as watchdog of society's interests," says McCormack.

If the media establishment gains enough autonomy to continue raising its voice with demands for journalism programs to begin producing graduates with the basic skills necessary for entry-level positions, this could be a huge catalyst for a kind of top-down education reform, Scott says.

"There is no question that professional journalists are quietly lobbying for change in Russian journalism education. But their only real weapon is closing the internship pipeline or refusing to hire graduates," says Scott. Nevertheless, he adds: “A lot of the change is going to come; it's going to come from [professional journalists]. That's a significant force for change, and you're already seeing it."

[S. Adam Cardais has worked in Europe as journalist since 2004 covering business, economic, and social issues. His work has appeared in the Prague Post, BusinessWeek and Transitions Online among other media.]



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