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Conflict between lawmakers from the ruling parties and journalists is worsening

March 20, 2013, 11:34 UTC+3

"The president knows about this situation. However, he's not interfering," presidential spokesperson said

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The conflict between the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets /MK/ and the United Russia Party over an article which sharply criticized United Russia lawmakers has taken a new turn. On Tuesday, Liberal Democratic Leader /LDPR/ Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded that the newspaper "be taken away" from its owner and editor-in-chief Pavel Gusev. United Russia and the LDPR adopted a statement on behalf of the State Duma /parliament/ on Tuesday insisting that Gusev no longer remain a Public Chamber member, head of the Public Chamber commission for support of the mass media and director of Moscow Journalists' Union.

United Russia faction leader Vladimir Vasilyev announced at a State Duma session on Tuesday that "the society demands that order be restored, including in the mass media," the Kommersant writes. United Russia members suggested restoring order in "MK" by issuing a special statement on inadmissibility of abusing freedom of expression by the mass media," which was put up for adoption by the State Duma. The lawmakers denounced the MK article which "overstepped all the thinkable boundaries of cynicism, partiality and ordinary boorishness."

The author of the article titled Political Prostitution Changes Gender examines the political career of United Russia's female lawmakers Irina Yarovaya, Olga Batalina and Yekaterina Lakhova. United Russia said in its statement that after such publications, Pavel Gusev, who has "never realized the baseness of his action," cannot head Moscow's Journalists Union and the Public Chamber commission or support of the mass media, or be a member of these bodies.

"If lawmakers believe that they have been insulted, let them take the matter to court, especially because more than 60 percent of libel suits are granted, according to statistics," deputy chairman of the Public Chamber commission for support of the mass media as groundwork of the civil society Dmitry Biryukov said.

Member of the working group for ethics and procedure Iosif Diskin said "since Pavel Gusev became Public Chamber member under presidential decree, he can only quit either on his own or by presidential decree."

"The president knows about this situation. However, he's not interfering," presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the newspaper.

The Novye Izvestia cited president of the Foundation for Protecting Openness Alexei Simonov as saying that the situation "is a tempest in a teapot."

"Deputies might have enemies among newspapers, while newspapers have the right to have foes among deputies. By and large, it would be an exaggeration to claim that the newspaper has insulted women and the highly moral impeccable man who has stood up for them," the expert said.

In Simonov's opinion, the persons mentioned in the article might feel offended: "On the other hand, it is unreasonable to take offense at being reminded that about a decade ago, they held exactly opposite views. Alexei Simonov believes that both parties to the conflict will soon get tired of the spat. "The cases have no legal prospects and cannot have any, because the parties have nothing to fight over. Consequently, all of them will be happy to forget their tiff."


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