OSCE Representative calls on President of Russia to veto new restrictive law that would have negative effect on free expression, free media
RIGA, 20 May 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said new restrictive laws in the Russian Federation would have a negative effect on freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism of opinions.
“The broad and imprecise wording of this legislation would impose serious restrictions on a wide-array of important democratic rights, including freedom of expression and media freedom,” Mijatović said.
On 19 May, the State Duma adopted a law which gives the Prosecutor General and his deputies the authority to declare foreign or international NGOs “undesirable”, which means they can be banned as a threat to the country’s constitutional order, defense or national security. On 20 May, the law was approved by the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly.
“I call on the President of the Russian Federation to veto this legislation in order to protect pluralistic debate,” Mijatović said.
Among other things, the law:
- suspends the right of the banned organizations to be among the founders of Russian media outlets;
- prohibits Russian mass media and online portals to disseminate information materials produced by these organizations;
- deprives local civil society organizations, including media NGOs, from receiving assistance from the banned foreign counterparts.
Mijatović noted concerns about the legislation raised by various local and international human rights organizations, including the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, which presented its critical expert opinion on the law in March.
In 2012 another restrictive law was adopted requiring NGO’s to register as “foreign agents” on the basis that they engage in political activity and receive foreign funding. It has had wide-reaching crippling effects for NGO’s working to protect and promote media freedom in Russia. The Representative issued public statements on this issue which are available at www.osce.org/fom/142391 and at www.osce.org/fom/100569.
The Representative is in Riga participating in an international conference on media freedom.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.