Russia - Ingush parliamentarians call for end to RenTV broadcasts



    MONTREAL, March 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is concerned
about a request by parliamentarians in the southern Russian republic of
Ingushetia for an end to broadcasting in the region by RenTV, a Russian TV
station based in Moscow. In an open letter to the Russian parliament, the
prosecutor general, the FSB security service and the interior ministry on 18
March, the Ingush parliamentarians also said RenTV reporters were no longer
welcome in Ingushetia.
    The press freedom organisation said: "We urge the authorities to maintain
a firm position in response to the demand of the Ingush parliament. They pose
a direct threat to press freedom in this Caucasian republic, where human
rights are routinely flouted."
    The initial response in Moscow has been cool. Sergei Mironov, the speaker
of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said: "Unfortunately, we do
not have the capability or power to shut down TV channels or influence their
content."
    Boris Reznik, a member of the information technology and policy committee
in the Duma, the lower house, said: "The members of the lower house will not
intervene in RenTV's activities." He added that if the Ingush parliamentarians
had a complaint about RenTV, they should turn to the judicial authorities.
    The Ingush parliamentarians' open letter said: "RenTV's provocative,
slanderous and biased reports on events in Ingushetia indicate that behind
them there are forces interested in shaking up the situation in the south of
our country. We have every reason to believe that reports regularly broadcast
on this channel are directly linked to attempts by these forces to destabilise
the region, including attempts being made from abroad."
    Three RenTV journalists and a member of the human rights group Memorial
were arrested in their hotel in the Ingush capital of Nazran on the night of
23 November. They were stripped of their clothes and equipment, beaten and
threatened with execution before finally being dumped in a remote place
outside the city. Two of the journalists had to be hospitalised. They had gone
to Nazran to cover a demonstration called to protest against the failure of
the local authorities to put a stop to series of murders and disappearances.
    RenTV has not issued a formal statement about the open letter as it was
not addressed to the station. But deputy editor Mariana Maximovskaya said she
thought it was directly linked to a report broadcast on 16 March referring to
events in recent months in Ingushetia, "where opposition demonstrators are
kidnapped and killed with increasing frequency and censorship reigns."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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