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Golos Under Scrutiny by Prosecutors

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 4, 2013)

The Prosecutor General’s Office has requested documents from elections watchdog Golos and the organization’s newspaper, Grazhdansky Golos, as part of its check into nongovernmental organizations.

Golos’ deputy director, Gregory Melkonyants, was presented with a written request for all legal documents, including information on staff, a schedule of activities with a list of participants, and sources of income in front of cameramen from the state-run NTV television channel, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The request concerns the newspaper as well, although it is not a nongovernmental organization. Golos is among hundreds of NGOs in at least 10 regions to face unannounced inspections in recent weeks.

Melkonyants said he received a telephone call Wednesday evening from the neighborhood police officer informing him that a letter from the prosecutor’s office awaited him. When Melkonyants arrived at the police station the next day to pick up the letter, he was greeted by not only the policeman but also an NTV cameraman, who recorded the exchange.

“I patiently informed the journalists that I would not answer their questions,” Melkonyants told Kommersant, saying that the incident was “an unimaginative set-up” by the police precinct.

He also said he was escorted to the metro station by two of the channel’s journalists, Pyotr Drogovoz and Mikhail Ivanov. The two journalists figured in an earlier, now infamous, video clip in which Melkonyants sabotages an NTV documentary about Golos by repeating “You’re Surkovskaya propaganda” for six minutes straight, referring to Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s former spin doctor.

NTV confirmed that the channel’s cameramen were present when Melkonyants received the prosecutor’s request on Thursday.

“We have sources everywhere,” the press service of the channel told Kommersant.

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