Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Russia5 May 2008

Concern about young Putin supporter’s bill to amend media law

читать на русском

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about a proposed amendment to the media law which the lower house of parliament, the Duma (photo), approved at its first reading on 25 April. Proposed by Robert Schlegel, the Duma’s youngest member and staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin, it would give Rossvyazokhrankultura, the federal agency that oversees the media, the power to close down any media deemed to have defamed on more than one occasion.

“This amendment would reinforce the already extremely heavy pressure on the media in Russia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It would become very easy to portray criticism as defamation and to have a news media closed. It would just encourage self-censorship under the pretext of inviting journalists to be more responsible.”

Schlegel’s bill would modify articles 4 and 16 of the media law. As it stands, article 4 punishes use of the media to break the law, for example to divulge a state secret or defend terrorism. The bill would make defamation punishable under article 4 as well. It would add the clause: “It is forbidden to use the media with the aim of disseminating manifestly false information that attacks a person’s honour and dignity or harms his reputation.” Under article 16, Rossvyazokhrankultura could, after issuing a news media with two warnings for article 4 violations, ask a judge to close it down.

The only Duma member to vote against the bill on the first reading was Boris Reznik, a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and deputy president of the Duma’s information policy committee, who called it “mindless” and “useless.”

Many journalists and human rights defenders have reacted with concern to the bill. Pavel Gusev, the editor of the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily newspaper, said “adoption of the amendments would aggravate the situation of freedom of expression in Russia.”

The Russian Civil Chamber, a body that advises the president, announced on 29 April that it would advise the Duma against adopting the bill. The Civil Chamber press office said: “The mechanism allowing for the closure of a news media without a court decision would do away with criticism of the government and would permit the easy elimination of undesired newspapers and TV stations, especially in the regions.”

Glasnost Defence Foundation president Alexey Simonov called the bill an “attack on press freedom. “What they have done is stupid,” he said. “I hope that in the course of the next two readings they will take the decision not to definitively adopt these amendments.”

Schlegel, who was unsuccessful in his first attempt in January to get the Duma to approve his bill, used to be the press spokesman of the pro-Putin youth movement Nashi.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s rapporteur on media freedom has voiced concern about the bill, recommending “media self-regulation” as the way to reinforce public confidence and respect for freedom of expression.

The bill must be approved at its second and third reading in the Duma, must be approved by the Federation Council (parliament’s upper house) and must be signed by the president before it takes effect.




  In this country
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
1 May - Russia
Newspaper editor in coma after latest case of violence against journalists
10 April - Russia
Prosecutors say Novaya Gazeta journalist’s mysterious death was not murder
1er April - Russia
Local newspaper reporter dies two days after beating, human rights activist attacked outside Moscow home
16 March - Russia
Official issued Politkovskaya killer with fake passport

in the annual report
Russia - Annual Report 2008
Russia - Annual report 2007
Russia - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up
28 May - Azerbaijan
Court breaks law by refusing to release journalist on health grounds

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives