MOSCOW, April 18 (Itar-Tass) – Problems of strained relations between the media and government are one of the main issues to be discussed by the 10th Congress of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), which opens in Moscow on Thursday. “More than 700 delegates and guests, among whom are representatives of the 77 regional offices of the Union, politicians, parliamentarians, representatives of science and culture are gathering in the Pillar hall of Unions,” RUJ Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov told Itar-Tass. “Traditionally, the Congress opens with a minute of silence in memory of the demised colleagues, whose number is constantly growing. Just last week we paid last respects to editor-in-chief of the Khimkinskaya Pravda newspaper Mikhail Beketov, who died from the effects of a severe beating,” the head of the Union of Journalists said.
The agenda of the first day of the forum includes summary reports of the Union’s governing bodies, issues of the media legislation reform and the protection of labour and professional rights of journalists. The forum will also focus on other professional issues. In particular, the impunity of criminals who make attempts on the life of journalists. “No high-profile crime of recent years has been solved, the masterminds and perpetrators were not punished,” Bogdanov said. According to him, officials and security forces obstruct the colleagues’ professional activity with the same impunity. The RUJ head noted that “economic pressure on the media market is also intensifying: tariffs on the distribution of printed media are rising disproportionately, the fate of the local press is also causing concern.”
During the second day of the Congress on April 19, the elections of the RUJ chairman and the Secretariat of the organisation will be held. The delegates plan to adopt a resolution, which will summarise proposals on the development of the media market, improving the legal framework for the media, measures of legal and social protection of journalists.
The RUJ today is the largest creative organisation in the country. It brings together about 100 thousand journalists and has regional offices in the vast majority of subjects of the Russian Federation. The Russian Union of Journalists under its current name was established in 1992. However, November 13, 1918, when the Russian Union of Soviet Journalists was founded, is regarded as the RUJ official birthday. Among the Russian Union of Soviet Journalists’ members were Bukharin, Lunacharsky and Krupskaya, Yesenin. A year later, the organisation was renamed into the Communist Union of Journalists, which in 1930 was dissolved. The Union was revived only in 1959 by the decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party as the Union of Journalists of the USSR. For many decades it worked under the auspices of the main newspaper of the country. It is the editors of the Pravda newspaper that have been unanimously elected chairmen of the Journalist Union. The turning point came in 1991 when delegates of the Congress of the Union of Journalists of the RSFSR rejected a candidature recommended by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and Eduard Sagalayev was elected chairman. A year later, the Union again changed its name, and Vsevolod Bogdanov was elected its head.