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Speaker of the Russian State Duma calls to work out international rules regulating relations between authorities and media

July 05, 2012, 12:18 UTC+3
According to Sergei Naryshkin, the phenomenon of electronic democracy is yet to be studied
1 pages in this article
Photo ITAR-TASS

Photo ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, July 5 (Itar-Tass) —— Speaker of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house Sergei Naryshkin has called to work out international rules to regulate relations between the mass media and the state.

Addressing the World Media Summit, which opened here on Thursday, he said that in the current conditions the state has to react to new challenges in the information area.

According to Naryshkin, the phenomenon of electronic democracy is yet to be studied. But it is clear already now that the “model, when the state controls the information space using only the administrative resource and punitive measures, is not viable,” he said. The administrative resource, in his words, cannot be “applicable to centrifugal forces of new forms of democracy.”

In this conditions, the state “must be not merely transparent and clear but also it must take an active position in building its relations with the media,” he noted.

Moreover, it is necessary to take into account two aspects. “On the one hand, any careless move the state might take in respect of the mass media will be interpreted as an attempt to restrict the freedom of speech and free dissemination of information,” Naryshkin said. On the other hand, “one of the functions of any state is to ensure security of its citizens, including information security.”

In this respect, the speaker of the lower parliament house said he thought it necessary to “organize a dialogue in order to work out common rules, an internationally recognized model of regulating the mass media by the authorities, so that such regulation would not hamper the development of democratic society but, at the same time, restrain those possible negative forms of a new information environment all world nations are now facing.” “So far, there are no ready-to-use solutions,” he stressed and expressed the hope that today’s summit would yield “new models of relations within the communication between the authorities and society.”

“The mixture of genres after the blogging appeared” is one of the challenges for the media industry, he said.

“As their popularity grows bloggers consider themselves professional journalists and often they are really talented and skilled people. But does it all mean that professional ethics, truthfulness and journalists’ responsibility begin to lose its social importance?” he asked.

Naryshkin emphasized that “one of the well-known principles of media corporations is that the news should be confirmed by two different sources as a minimum.”

“But do social network users always respect this rule or not? Another question is how to find a balance between freedom of speech and human rights, including a right to life, as the Internet is open for all, including those who pose a threat to life, human rights and freedoms,” he said.

“The sixth convocation of the State Duma works in absolutely new conditions. Two federal election campaigns added emotions and influenced the mood of society as well as the legislators’ agenda,” Naryshkin said.

“The number of opposition factions significantly increased. But if some saw a destabilizing factor in this, they were mistaken,” he said underlining that “the first session has already proved that the parliament is professional and responsible.” “Despite tougher political competition the Duma works systematically and strictly fulfils the regulations. At the same time it is open for dialogue with all political forces, including off-parliament ones.”

The lower house of parliament accredited around 1,500 reporters from 377 media outlets, the speaker said.

“The parliamentary pool plays a big role in covering the law making process and the formation of public opinion about the State Duma,” Naryshkin said. “Therefore we try to create all conditions for journalists to get prompt and professional comments of parliamentarians and necessary reference and analytical materials and of course, to get an opportunity to watch plenary sessions online. As a result we see an unbiased coverage of the parliamentary processes brought to the society.”

Dwelling on the subject of Eurasian integration, Naryshkin reminded that at the beginning of the current year, Customs Union member countries, i.e. Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, formed the Common Economic Space. “The next step is to form the Eurasian Economic Union by the year 2015,” he stressed. “Eventually, integration on the post-Soviet space has gained momentum and its tasks are becoming ever more daring. Obviously, the role of interparliamentary contacts will only grow.”

“For many years, lawmakers from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have been working together in the frameworks of a number of interparliamentary assemblies (the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Community /EurAsEC/, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization /CSTO/). The Union State of Russia and Belarus has its Parliamentary Assembly as well,” he went on. “Despite this, the current formats seem to be not enough. They are becoming ‘too tight’ for us and now a topical subject is to create a common parliamentary institution of the member states of the Common Economic Space. Initially, it might be an Interparliamentary Assembly that will later develop into a Eurasian Parliament.”

“Naturally, it cannot be done overnight. But I have already said openly that I prefer the idea of a full-fledged Eurasian parliament vested with legislative authorities and elected in direct vote,” Naryshkin said.

According to Naryshkin, global media can make a positive contribution to these processes. “We want an unbiased coverage of Eurasian integration, bearing in mind the fact that integration processes give a qualitative impetus to socio-economic modernization, eliminate demarcation lines and ensure equal conditions for labour and business,” he stressed.

At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that “global media often deny our countries the right to form an efficient economic union and tend to put an equal mark between Eurasian integration and attempts to revive the former Soviet Union.” “And in fact, it is not like this at all,” he noted. “Eurasian integration is just another step to equal participation of our three countries in the world community,” he said. Moreover, “high economic growth rates in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are an important factor to restrain the global economic crisis,” which means that “all global nations should be interested in the success of the Eurasian project.”

“And we here hope for the support from global mass media,” he emphasized.

“We, lawmakers, want the mass media to be careful and professional in covering our work, including in all which concerns the Eurasian integration,” the speaker said. He said he hoped that “journalists will be among most prominent experts in issues of strengthening our cooperation.”

“Someone said that it is up to politicians to attend to issues of ‘better tomorrow,’ up to historians to attend to issues of ‘better yesterday,’ and up to journalists to deal with ‘better today.’ There is only a pinch of humor in this phrase, since the mass media are indeed responsible for how citizens of our states and the entire world community take integration processes,” he added.

Naryshkin drew attention to a number of important bills under the consideration of the State Duma. “The most significant issue is Russia’s accession of the World Trade Organization (WTO),” he said. “In the days to come, the Russian parliament is to draw a line under the many-year’s negotiation. Well, experts have varying opinions about it, but it is a task for lawmakers to hear the arguments of all, discuss them in an open manner, take a decision and explain it to the voters.”

Apart from that, according to the speaker, the State Duma is working on bills on the federal contract system and state defence orders. “Russia needs modern mechanisms to regulate this significant sector of the economy,” he stressed and called to spare no effort to do away with grounds breeding negligent and corruptive actions in the area of state purchases. “Anti-corruption goals are the target of control over compliance of expenditures of state officials to their incomes,” he noted.

Among top-priority tasks, Naryshkin noted legal backing for cultural policy. “Taking into account their strategic importance, I have proposed to the lawmakers and the country’s leaders to elaborate a national program for the modernization of culture, and to fix its key provisions in a new framework law,” he said. The current normative act, in his words, was passed twenty years ago and is now obviously obsolete. “I think it necessary to envisage in the federal budget funds to finance this program and to elaborate its parameters involving entire society,” he added.

In reply to a question from Ethiopia’s communications minister Naryshkin voiced the certainty that the interest of Russia and Russia’s mass media in developments in the African continent will be growing with the expansion of Russia’s relations with African countries in all spheres – economic, social, political and humanitarian.”

Naryshkin acknowledged that these relations were not active and wide enough with most African countries.

“Regrettably, we have lost a great deal in our contacts over the past twenty years,” he agreed. “Personally, I believe that Russia’s interest in cooperation with the African countries is great, bearing in mind the great potential of these countries.”

“With the development and expansion of this cooperation the amount of information in the Russian mass media in the African countries will be growing, and so will the influence of that information on how the events there are perceived by the world community,” Naryshkin said.

Russia’s State Duma speaker  has called on journalists for keeping high moral standards in their profession and realizing their responsibility to the society.

“As I see it, it is necessary to foster high moral values and professional ethics in the reporters’ community,” he said in his reply to the question of delegates of the World Media Summit organized by ITAR-TASS.

“Morality and honesty are inevitable values in the profession,” he said.

Naryshkin underlined that journalists’ responsibility to the society is so high that their work should not be based on unrealizable sources.

Speaking at the summit he described the mixture of media genres and blogging as one of the challenges for the media industry.

“Bloggers consider themselves professional journalists as their popularity grows and often they are really talented and skilled people. But does it all mean that professional ethics, truthfulness and journalists’ responsibility begin to lose its social importance?” he asked.

Naryshkin emphasized that “one of the well-known principles of media corporations is that the news should be confirmed by two different sources as a minimum.”

“But do social network users always respect this rule or not? Another question is how to find a balance between freedom of speech and human rights, including a right to life, as the Internet is open for all, including those who pose a threat to life, human rights and freedoms,” he said.

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