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Date: 2002-11-10

RU: Zensurgesetz gegen Terror

Ähnlich wie in den USA auch die Reaktion der russischen Regierung auf den "globalen Terrorismus". War eine Gleichschaltung der Medien in den USA noch das Mittel der Wahl, setzt man in Russland gleich auf ein weitreichendes Zensurgesetz. Unabhängige Berichterstattung über den Krieg in Tschetschenien weicht den offiziellen Stellungnahmen der russischen Regierung. Dazu aktuell ein Interview mit Sergei Smirnov (Koordinator vom Human Rights Network Russland)
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> Is this law a new milestone of already approved laws against the free
> speech of civil liberty and human rights groups in the name of the "global
> anti-terror campaign" ?

In fact, yes. The bill contains language against dissemination of
information that hampers an anti-terrorist operation and dissemination of
any information that includes any statements of people that hamper an
anti-terrorist operation and/or excuse opposition to anti-terrorist
operation. Russian government calls the war in Checnya an "anti-terrorist
operation". Some observers think that the new law may be used against any
voices against the war.

> In which way is media related work of the Human Rights Network in Russia
> complicated by these restrictions ?
> Is this law able to supress all information about war crimes in Chechenia
> or will human rights groups still be able to report about that ?

By this moment human rights groups have no problems in putting this data on
the Net and in some liberal papers (though there are only few). In fact,
there are some bad signs. For example, each Thursday since the beginning of
war a small group of Russian liberals used to conduct public anti-war
meetings in the downtown Moscow. After that events in October the two last
meetings were illegally prohibited by Moscow government and some activists
who nevertheless were at their common place and stood there with anti-war
posters were arrested by police. They were released soon afterwards and are
now waiting for court decision. This accident cannot be linked directly to
the new law. But it illustrates the changing situation with freedom of
speech.

Human Rights Network works mostly on the Net. We support a big website and
used to post critical and anti-war articles on it for a long period of time.
However, there's no specific legislation on Internet in Russia, and Human
Rights Online (our website, http://www.hro.org ) cannot be treated as mass
media source (like an offline magazine, for example) according to current
legislation.

There have been no examples of a website closed by the government for some
political or human rights activity. A website which was sponsored by
guerillas' supporters was attacked by hackers with some approval by Russian
government but not by a court decision. (It's an old story, however). A
website of one liberal Moscow radio station was almost closed recently
because they had put an interview with terrorists on their pages. However,
the site had been previously registered as mass media. After they removed
that interview from their pages, the government withdrew its claims.

The new law is widely quoted as a new tool that can be used against mass
media. This is because the bill is not a separate law but a series of
amendments to 2 existing laws - on mass media and on terrorism. In fact, in
part concerning terrorism the new law says that information against
anti-terrorist operation may not be distributed by mass media _or in any
other way_. Internet may be counted as "some other way". We cannot predict
how the new law will be implemented. In may be - or may not be - used
against authors of anti-war publications. It allows wide interpretation and
there's "traditional" gap between written legislation and practice in
Russia.

> It's interesting that in the two former concurrents of the cold war (USA,
> Russia) free speech gets more and more restricted.

Sad but true. It's also interesting that both peoples seem to support
policies of their governments. Recent elections in the USA and public polls
in Russia confirm that.

Sincerely yours,

Sergei Smirnov
Human Rights Network,
Moscow, Russia


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Human Rights Network Russia:

http://www.hro.org

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edited by Chris
published on: 2002-11-10
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