Russia - Dmitri Medvedev given four proposals for improving press freedom

    MONTREAL, Feb. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders wrote today to
First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev urging him "to take concrete steps
to create the conditions for greater freedom in Russia." The United Russia
party's candidate in the 2 March presidential election, Medvedev is backed by
President Putin and, according to opinion polls, could get more than
70 per cent of the vote.
    The letter puts four proposals to Medvedev for improving the press
freedom situation in Russia. It says the Russian authorities should:

    - amend three articles of the Russian criminal code (articles 129, 130
      and 319) concerning defamation and insulting comments, which are often
      used to prosecute journalists;
    - reform the anti-extremism law, whose vague wording has allowed
      prosecutions to be brought against NGOs and independent news websites;
    - remedy the lack of diversity in broadcasting by creating conditions for
      the emergence of privately-owned national TV stations that are
      independent of any control by state-owned or parastatal companies;
    - put an end to the impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists and
      in particular show that Russia is determined that all those who were
      responsible for the deaths of Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov in
      October 2006 and July 2004 are identified and brought to justice.

    The chapter on Russia in the Reporters Without Borders annual report,
published on 13 February, highlights the lack of progress in the struggle
against impunity, the improper confinement of journalists to psychiatric
hospitals, physical attacks on journalists and the bias in favour of United
Russia candidates in the media's coverage of the campaign for last December's
parliamentary elections.
    Russia was ranked 144th out of 169 countries in the 2007 Reporters
Without Borders annual world press freedom index

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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