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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

1,500 Demand Media Freedom

APProtesters chanting at a Yabloko-organized rally near Ostankino on Sunday.
Some 1,500 protesters demanded greater press freedom and more access to state-dominated television networks at a Yabloko-organized rally Sunday near the Ostankino television tower.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky told protesters wearing masks reading "Shut Off" and carrying signs reading "News Is Propaganda" and "Down With Censorship!" that Russia had no freedom of the press.

"The freedom of the press is not the freedom of propaganda or pornography. It is the freedom to discuss the hardest questions and to find answers," Yavlinsky said, making a rare public appearance since he and his liberal party failed to get elected to the State Duma in 2003.

Many of those at the protest, which included Communists and activists from the radical National Bolshevik Party, wore orange T-shirts in a nod to Ukraine's pro-democracy Orange Revolution and held posters showing jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

"It is no coincidence that we are gathered here at Ostankino. It is here that orders arrive on what ... to show on television," Communist deputy head Ivan Melnikov said.

Sunday's rally was the biggest for Yabloko in recent memory and the largest at Ostankino since 2001, when liberal activists gathered to protest the takeover of privately owned NTV by state-connected Gazprom. Most national television channels are now directly or indirectly controlled by the government.

(AP, MT)