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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Editors Threaten Media Strike

The editors of some of Russia's most influential newspapers have threatened to stop publishing next week in protest of a government order they say could end of an independent press in Russia.


In an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin published in the weekly Obshchaya Gazeta, the editors of 25 newspapers joined other prominent journalists to demand the repeal of a government directive that would raise printing costs by 600 percent.


"Directive 1233 would stop the publication of almost all newspapers and magazines," the letter said. "As a result, the constitutional right of Russians to full information about all aspects of the life of their country and the world will be crudely violated."


The editors went on to warn that unless they received a response to their letter, they would have to stop publishing.


"We are ready to suspend the printing of our publications during the 'parliamentary week' of Jan. 10-17, 1994," said the letter.


They chose the busiest possible news week in which to threaten a strike. The new parliament, or Federal Assembly, is scheduled to meet for the first time on Jan. 11, while U.S. President Bill Clinton is due to arrive in Moscow the next day for a three-day summit meeting.


The government order was adopted Nov. 25 and provides for reevaluation of the fixed assets of enterprises. If strictly enforced, this would raise the costs of printing services drastically, since the value of an enterprise's physical plant is used to calculate the worth of goods and services the enterprise provides.


The editors believe this would mean the end of a free press in Russia, because no newspapers would survive without extensive subsidies, putting the press at the mercy of the government.


Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Journalists' Union of Russia, termed the directive an attempt on the part of the government to control the press.


"Newspapers are dying," said Bogdanov in an interview. "It is just another attempt to bring the press to heel."


Those signing the letter of protest included the editors of Izvestia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Segodnya, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Argumenty i Fakty, Rossiiskaya Gazeta and others.