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Party Wants to Label Media as Foreign Agent

Published: July 18, 2012 (Issue # 1718)


MOSCOW United Russia wants to label media outlets financed from abroad as foreign agents and to gain the power to oust lawmakers without a court ruling, news reports said Monday.

The proposed crackdowns follow a week in which United Russia led efforts in the State Duma to pass legislation that brands politically active NGOs that receive money from abroad as foreign agents and drastically increases fines in defamation cases.

Dmitry Gudkov, a senior Duma deputy with A Just Russia, called the latest proposed measures a continuation of this repressive policy.

This will not stop anything but will breed more hatred, Gudkov said by phone.

The Duma may consider in the fall a bill that would brand as foreign agents media outlets that receive more than 50 percent of their financing from abroad, Izvestia reported Monday, citing United Russia Deputies Vladimir Burmatov and Ilya Kostunov as its sources.

Many media receive financing from abroad and act as a mouthpiece for a foreign government, Kostunov told the daily.

But Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Kremlins human rights council and a lawyer by training, called the bill about foreign-financed media pointless, saying that the countrys mass media law, which he co-authored, already bans media outlets from receiving more than 50 percent of their financing from abroad.

Making the financing of all the media transparent would be the right thing to do, but this has not been proposed, Fedotov said by phone.

Pavel Gutiontov, secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia, decried the measure as pure propaganda and an insult to some news outlets.

He also said he didnt understand why the Dumas recently approved NGO bill labels some foreign-financed NGOs as foreign agents but makes an exception for state organizations that are financed from abroad, noting that he was more concerned as a taxpayer about what the national budget was spent on, including in the field of mass media.

Meanwhile, a senior Duma source told Vedomosti in an article published Monday that parliament might consider a bill in the fall that would allow United Russias majority in the lower chamber to strip lawmakers of their mandates without a court ruling for a variety of offenses.

Grounds for such punishment could include making comments to media outlets that are deemed to discredit parliament or disparage state authorities; receiving citations by the ethics committee for persistently skipping Duma sessions; failing to publish income declarations; or using diplomatic passports for personal trips abroad.

Gudkov said the measure would violate the Constitution. It is not they [United Russia] who gave us mandates but the people, while United Russia only stole mandates, he said, referring to Decembers disputed Duma elections.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Jan. 25


Get out your running shoes for the 46th International Road of Life Marathon. Dedicated to the end of the blockade, three runs are offered 5, 21 and 42 kilometer runs starting in different places outside the city. Busses leave from 13/1 Arsenalnaya Naberezhny at 8 a.m. but check complete details and registration fees on www.newrunners.ru/race/doroga-zhizni-2015



If you are planning a wedding, head over to the Azimut Hotel, 43/1 Lermontovsky Prospekt from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day includes live music, free dance classes and vendors selling wedding dresses, accessories, cakes and services to help make your special day perfect. Admission is free.



Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







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