Reporters Without Borders wrote today to First Deputy Prime
Minister Dmitri Medvedev urging him “to take concrete steps to create
the conditions for greater freedom in Russia.” The United Russia
party’s candidate in the 2 March presidential election, Medvedev is
backed by President Putin and, according to opinion polls, could get
more than 70 per cent of the vote.
The letter puts four proposals to Medvedev for improving the
press freedom situation in Russia. It says the Russian authorities
– amend three articles of the Russian criminal code
(articles 129, 130 and 319) concerning defamation and insulting
comments, which are often used to prosecute journalists;
reform the anti-extremism law, whose vague wording has allowed
prosecutions to be brought against NGOs and independent news websites;
remedy the lack of diversity in broadcasting by creating conditions for
the emergence of privately-owned national TV stations that are
independent of any control by state-owned or parastatal companies;
put an end to the impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists and
in particular show that Russia is determined that all those who were
responsible for the deaths of Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov in
October 2006 and July 2004 are identified and brought to justice.
chapter on Russia in the Reporters Without Borders annual report,
published on 13 February, highlights the lack of progress in the
struggle against impunity, the improper confinement of journalists to
psychiatric hospitals, physical attacks on journalists and the bias in
favour of United Russia candidates in the media’s coverage of the
campaign for last December’s parliamentary elections.
Russia was ranked 144th out of 169 countries in the 2007 Reporters Without Borders annual world press freedom index.