There Are Still Real Women in the Russian Villages
March 8, 2016
A court has overturned the dismissal of Irina Iskorneva, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pechenga
A magician friend once told me a joke about his trade. During a performance, an illusionist is doing the trick where he saws a woman in two. Halfway through the trick, someone in the hushed auditorium comments, “Think about what you’re doing, dude. You’re about to make two problems out of one.”
Why have I told his story? Because right around the new year, the Pechenga District administration fired Irina Iskorneva, editor of the local newspaper.
Last year, as regular parishioners of our little blog will recall, Iskorneva wiped the floor with Ivan Tsipilyov, mayor of Zapolyarny. She informed readers about road repairs near Tsipilyov’s house, which went right to his front door.
Tsipilyov found this outrageous. Deeming himself personally insulted and humiliated, he went to court, where he got a kick in the ass. A month later, he got another kick in the ass, this time in the regional court.
The Pechenga District Court confirmed Iskorneva’s version of events.
As the court also pointed out, “Criticism of authorities is an inalienable right of citizens, and every politician agrees to become a target of criticism.”
The court explained in detail how the parties could resolve their conflict.
“In case of disagreement, the criticized party has the right to respond in the very same mass media.”
In November of last year, Irina Iskorneva strongly opposed a 9.3% increase in utilities rates for 2016. (The regional authorities have been using deputies on local councils to set rates higher than the ceiling established by Moscow.)
According to Iskorneva, this was the reason she was dismissed as editor right before the New Year, on December 29.
“Don’t awaken the beast in me. Well, and if you are asking for it be prepared to defend yourself. I will show no mercy,” reads the motto on her profile page on the VKontakte social network.
And so it happened. In mid January, she uncovered the amounts of the bonuses the district’s top official had paid themselves. According to Iskorneva, they had ranged from 70,000 to 200,000 rubles. [That is, from approximately 900 to 2,600 euros—TRR.]
Two court hearings took place in Pechenga District Court on March 2 of this year.
In the first, Iskorneva was listed as the defendant. The district administration was trying to recover damages allegedly caused by Iskorneva in the performance of her duties. The court rejected the suit, thus indicating that the charges were groundless.
Consequently, Iskorneva’s dismissal from her position was also illegal.The court ruled that Iskorneva should be restored to her position as of March 3, 2016, should be compensated for wages forfeited during her forced absence, and should be financially compensated for pain and suffering.
When the editor of a municipal newspaper forces two local administrations to bend four times in the last six months, it is cause for respect, at least.