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OSCE is concerned about the media freedom limit in Russia

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović expressed concern about draft amendments to the information law of the Russian Federation which might restrict access to the Internet and limit media freedom and freedom of expression. OSCE official web-site writes about this.

“I call on the members of the State Duma to reconsider the proposed changes as they might limit free speech and freedom of the media, might be arbitrarily interpreted and might lead to undue and disproportionate restrictions,” Mijatović said.

On 17 December the State Duma adopted, in a first reading, amendments to the Law on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information which would allow the Prosecutor General and his deputies to block websites containing content such as calls for extremist activities and to participate in public events held in violation of government regulations.

“The effect of these amendments might limit free media in the name of countering extremism,” Mijatović said. “The fight against extremism is an important security issue and a universal challenge affecting all OSCE states, but laws should be carefully drafted so that they do not in any way impinge on free expression.”

“I share the Venice Commission’s opinion that the legislation on countering extremism in Russia contains imprecise wording, which might result in discretional application and restrictions on a wide array of sensitive rights, including those closely associated with freedom of expression,” Mijatović said.

Mijatović said she supported a statement of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation expressing concern that the amendments might violate people’s constitutional rights.