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Rights activist criticizes parliament's statement on freedom of expression abuse

March 20, 2013, 14:08 UTC+3
The lawmakers supported a draft statement on inadmissibility of abusing freedom of expressing by the mass media. The document was drawn by the United Russia faction
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MOSCOW, March 20 (Itar-Tass) - Head of the presidential human rights council Mikhail Fedotov criticized the parliament's resolution on abuse of freedom of expression. "Lawmaker /from United Russia Party Andrei/ Isayev could have taken the matter to court or complained to prosecutors, the Roskomnadzor Federal Service for Supervision of Legislation in Mass Communications, or the public board for complaints about the mass media /under the Journalists' Union. However, he selected "the third way," Fedotov told participants in the international media forum at the Public Chamber. "Why isn't the third way normally taken? Because it leads to a blind alley," he said.

In his opinion, part of officials, due to Soviet-era stereotypes, do not understand what freedom of the press is. These stereotypes should be overcome.

On Tuesday, lawmakers at the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament demanded an apology from editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets /MK/ Pavel Gusev, saying he no longer could be head of Moscow's Journalists Union and a Public Chamber member.

The lawmakers supported a draft statement on inadmissibility of abusing freedom of expressing by the mass media. The document was drawn by the United Russia faction. The house voted 300 - 97 for the document. The Communists and A Just Russia faction did not support the statement.

The article titled "Political Prostitution Changes Gender" was carried by the newspaper and sparked uproar. It targeted three United Russia female lawmakers Irina Yarovaya, Olga Batalina and Yekaterina Lakhova.

The statement said the article "overstepped all thinkable boundaries of cynicism, partiality and ordinary boorishness."

"Despite the general indignation and numerous demands by public organizations, the editor-in-chief and the founder refuses to apologize and even do not realize how base their action is," the authors of the document said.

Liberal Democratic Party /LDPR/ leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky called for revoking the State Duma accreditation from the MK journalist, restructuring the newspaper and taking it away from Gusev. His bid was supported by United Russia deputy Mikhail Markelov.

But Communists and A Just Russia deputies said had it not been for Andrei Isayev's comments on Twitter, there would have been no such uproar.

It would be far more correct for those who regard themselves as insulted, to file a legal action.

"The scandal will only boost the number of MK copies," Communist Boris Kashin agreed. He believes Gusev will not apologize and that lawmakers' reputation will suffer a new blow.

Pavel Gusev said he had nothing to apologize for because he had not insulted anybody.

"I'm not going to apologize to anybody; because I have not insulted anyone. It's Andrei Isayev who should apologize to journalists. I have nothing to apologize for," Gusev told Tass.

He had complained about Isayev's threats against journalists to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee.

Isayev told Tass he did not regret his remarks on Twitter because they were "the correct, natural and normal reaction to a public insult of women."

In an obvious retaliation bid, a group of United Russia lawmakers on Wednesday asked Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev to check what they believe are MK advertisements of sex services. The group includes Secretary of United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov, his deputy Sergei Zheleznyak, and lawmakers Olga Batalina and Yekaterina Lakhova.


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