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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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