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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Journalists Seek Help Via Duma




Amid allegations of government reprisals against critical news media, the nation's main association of journalists is lobbying for a bill that would block state officials and press barons from meddling in editorial policy.


The bill, which has been submitted to the State Duma, would ban media owners from firing reporters, said Mikhail Fedosov, secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists and the author of the bill. Only editors would have the right to fire reporters.


It would also require media owners f either state or private f to issue a statement of policy that would have to be approved by editorial staff, Fedosov said at a news conference Thursday.


The owners would have no right to influence their media's reports, as long as they don't violate the policy statement that the editorial staff had agreed to follow, according to the bill.


The bill also would prohibit mixed state-private ownership of media, such as is the case with the national television station ORT, in which both the state and Boris Berezovsky hold shares.


Review of the bill could begin by midsummer, but it would be at least 18 months before it became law, Fedosov said.


"There will be a lot of opponents, first of all among media oligarchs," Fedosov said. "They will want to continue the game they have been playing, the game that has given them success. And the bill will require different rules of the game, civilized rules."


Many politically connected tycoons have acquired major newspapers and television stations, and they often use media to promote their interests.


The media atmosphere became more charged with the arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky, whose NTV television station has criticized the Kremlin.