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United Russia lawmaker challenges editor to have public discussion

March 19, 2013, 13:29 UTC+3

Earlier, editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper asked the prosecutors to open a criminal case against Isayev over threats against reporters

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MOSCOW, March 19 (Itar-Tass) – Deputy secretary of United Russia's General Council, lawmaker Andrei Isayev said he is ready to publicly discuss his disagreements with editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets Pavel Gusev.

"I believe it would make sense for us to meet during "the Poyedinok /"Duel" program/ hosted by /Vladimir Solovyov/ and discuss the reciprocal claims," Isayev told Itar-Tass. In his view, it would expose their disagreements to the public’s judgment.

The lawmaker underlined he was ready to answer law-enforcement bodies' questions, too. Earlier, Gusev asked the prosecutors to open a criminal case against Isayev over threats against reporters performing their professional duties.

"As for his further actions, it's up to him," Isayev said, "I'm ready to meet with him at law-enforcement bodies, but I believe it would be more reasonable to have an open public discussion."

The conflict between Isayev and Gusev broke out after the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets carried the article titled "Political Prostitution Changes Sex." It told about three female United Russia lawmakers – Irina Yarovaya, Olga Batalina and Yekaterina Lakhova. The article was severely criticized by head of the house committee for labor and social policy Andrei Isayev /United Russia faction/ on Twitter.

For his part, Moskovsky Komsomolets editor-in-chief complained about Isayev to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee.

Meanwhile, one of the persons mentioned in the resounding article – first deputy chairperson of the house committee for family, women and children Olga Batalina /United Russia/ -- told reporters she would not sue Gusev over the article, as she believed that it "was not original work, but a compilation of several slanderous theses which are found in the blogosphere today."

At the same time, Batalina said such incidents should not be left without response. "The law should be the only measure. If there is a violation, you should answer regardless of your position or status. If you have not breached the law, any prosecution for professional activity is inadmissible, but it a lawmaker, a public figure or a journalist," the parliamentarian underlined.

On Tuesday, the parliament is to discuss a draft statement drawn by the United Russia faction on inadmissibility of abusing freedom of expression by the mass media.

The item was included in the Tuesday agenda at the initiative of deputy speaker from the United Russia faction Sergei Zheleznyak.

"The principle of division on political grounds has been used; it's dangerous. Whoever does it is either irresponsible – you might have such an opinion about a journalist; this won't do with respect to an executive official. Each should answer in accordance with the law," United Russia faction leader Vasilyev said.

He urged other parliament factions to support the document.

Russia has tremendous achievements in asserting democratic freedoms, such as the mass media and the civil society, which can criticize the authorities. This criticism is sometimes painful and excessive.

"And who evaluates them? Are they self-regulating institutions?" Vasilyev said noting that the newspaper staff have not shown any remorse nor have they apologized.


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