Under the pretext of fighting terrorism


Russia’s Prosecutor General wants to increase liability of the mass media, introduce liability for Internet sites, as well as heightening control of the State over educational programmes in religious associations in order to fight crimes on racist or nationalist grounds.

According to Friday’s edition of the Kommersant newspaper, the relevant amendments to the law have already been submitted to the State Duma Committee on Security.

The present rules give the right only to “individuals and organizations” to demand a public refutation from media outlets. The draft prosecutor’s amendments extends this list, including  the State authorities of all levels, as well as the Prosecutor General, his deputies and subordinate prosecutors. In addition, a new kind of offence is proposed with regard to the mass media: “unwarranted refusal to issue a refutation” which would be punishable by an administrative fine of up to 500 roubles for the Chief Editor, and up to 5000 roubles for the editorial office.

Anti-extremist innovations are also envisaged for religious associations from whom the Prosecutor General intends to demand compulsory State registration of all educational religious programmes.

The largest number of preventive measures is foreseen for the Internet.  The Prosecutor General’s has prepared a new article of the Law “On combating extremist activity” to this end. If any material posted on a site is found by the court to be extremist, access to it must be stopped. If any site repeatedly posts extremist material, then it will be closed. The list of extremist Internet material and sites will be regularly published in the mass media.

Providers will be obliged within a month to stop serving any website which ends up on that list.

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