MOSCOW, 4 October 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, today concluded a four-day official visit to Moscow, during which she discussed with high-level Russian officials safety of journalists, Internet freedom, media legislation and ways to enhance co-operation with her office.
“I value the co-operation and readiness for dialogue demonstrated by the Russian authorities,” Mijatović said. “We had a frank and constructive exchange of views on the media freedom situation in Russia, existing challenges and ways to address them.”
During her meetings, Mijatović raised the issue of the recently adopted Law “On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development,” and the re-crimininalization of defamation in the country.
“I would never question the legitimate right of governments to fight child abuse, terrorism and other such threats,” she said. “But laws should not restrict freedom of speech, and other ways should be found to protect our societies.”
“I will continue to follow the developments concerning the new legislation and its implementation, and hope that recent as well as future legislative initiatives will not have a negative impact on freedom of the media and freedom of expression.”
“I further received assurances from the authorities that the Internet in Russia will remain free, and I trust that this will be the case,” added Mijatović.
Safety of journalists and impunity were also discussed, she said: “I noted with satisfaction the 2011 amendment of the Criminal Code, according to which violence or threats of violence against journalists or their relatives would be punishable by corrective labour or imprisonment. I hope that this commitment to protecting journalists from violent threats will be maintained.”
Mijatović said she highly valued the work of the Investigative Committee with which her Office closely co-operates. “However, on the eve of the sixth anniversary of Anna Politikovskaya’s death we all know that much more needs to be done in order for justice to be served,” she said.
During her visit Mijatović met Deputy Chair of the State Duma Sergey Zheleznyak; Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko; the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Representative on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov; and Deputy Communications Minister Aleksey Volin. She also had a meeting with Mikhail Fedotov, presidential adviser and the Chair of the Presidential Council for the Advancement of Civil Society and Human Rights.
“During my talks with the Russian authorities, we agreed to enhance and intensify our co-operation, including through a number projects and training in the area of safety of journalists, online media and access to information,” said Mijatović.
During her visit Mijatović delivered a keynote speech at a conference on safety of journalists and impunity co-organized by the Russian Union of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists, and met the Head of the Russian Union of Journalists Vsevolod Bodganov, and delivered a lecture to journalism students at the Higher School of Economics. She also visited the editorial offices of Novaya Gazeta and Russia Today and met their staff.