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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Call For Control of TV, Radio

The Congress of People's Deputies on Friday drafted a resolution to take control of state-owned television and radio, raising the stakes in an ongoing battle with Russia's broadcast media. The deputies also approved an amendment ordering the smaller standing parliament to adopt a law on television and radio, legislation that has stalled several times due to protests from liberals.

The resolution, and potentially the law, would order the creation of an Observatory Council in the legislature that would "oversee objective political coverage and equal access for all political parties, movements, unions, and youth groups to air their views on the existing economic, social, and political reforms and other issues of national interest", according to the text drafted Friday.

Mikhail Poltoranin, a senior aide to Yeltsin who heads his Federal Information Center, said that the measure would kill Russia's free press and said that the government would fight it.

The resolution is the initiative of hardline deputies who have tried for the past year to gain control over Russia's media, which they argue is too pro-government. The Supreme Soviet tried unsuccessfully to create a similar Observatory Council last summer for the same purpose. In the fall, they voted to take over the publishing house of Izvestia, another move widely viewed as an attempt to exert control over the press.

The resolution would also give the Congress the power to appoint the heads of Russia's two main state-owned networks, Ostankino and the Russian State Television Company. In addition, the heads of Itar-Tass, and state information services, including Boris Yeltsin's new Federal Information Center, would be appointed by the Congress.