Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 76

In a bid to stem what it calls a flow of biased information, the Russian Duma voted yesterday to strip TV journalists of the right to broadcast footage of its sessions that they have recorded themselves. TV journalists who currently sit in the balcony of the Duma chamber will be relegated to a room equipped with monitors. The networks will be allowed to screen only videotapes supplied by the parliamentary press service. Terms of supplying the tapes will be laid down in separate agreements to be concluded with each TV company, and the suspicion is that the Duma will try to charge for this service. The measure, which is supposed to come into effect in six weeks, was sponsored by Oleg Finko of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist Liberal Democratic party and Yury Ivanov of the Agrarian party. Finko said his aim was to ensure that the electorate receives unbiased information about what its representatives are doing.

Russia’s major TV and radio networks denounced the move as a violation of citizens’ constitutional rights to full and authentic information as well as of the right, guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to "seek and impart" information. Kirill Ignatiev, first deputy director general of Russian Public Television (ORT), said the Duma was seeking revenge on ORT, which last month won a lawsuit against an earlier Duma attempt to ban ORT correspondents from Duma sessions. Ignatiev said the media will challenge the decision in the courts and will not allow the Duma get away with this fresh assault on their freedom. (Itar-Tass, NTV, April 16)

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