Russian MPs Vote To
Impose Severe Media Restrictions
By Julius Strauss in Moscow
The Daily Telegraph - UK

Russian MPs have voted to impose severe restrictions on the media's coverage of future anti-terrorist operations in a move designed to prevent a repeat of criticism following the Moscow theatre siege last month.
It is the latest in a series of blows to freedom of speech in Russia and was attacked yesterday by journalists and international watchdogs.
The new law makes it illegal to broadcast or publish opinions calling for a negotiated settlement to a crisis or to sympathise with the terrorists' cause.
The law proscribes "serving propaganda or justifying extremist activities, including statements of people trying to stop an anti-terrorist operation and justification of such opposition".
It also prohibits publishing information about the arms, explosives, ammunition and equipment used in anti-terrorist operations. This clause could have been used to bar reports about the use of a knock-out gas by special forces last month which killed 126 of the 800 hostages in the theatre.
Once the necessary amendments to the present media law are signed by President Vladimir Putin they will come into force. Journalists fear that the new law will give the government carte blanche to stamp on coverage deemed critical.


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