November 1, 2002


Vienna, 1 November 2002

The Vienna South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is following developments connected to media freedom in Russia with concern.

Media coverage of the conflict in Chechnya (Чечня́) is for a longer period heavily controlled by state officials. State authorities must approve the movements of most journalists allowed in Chechen Republic and Russian military oversees their activities.

During the crisis connected a terrorist act when a group of Chechen rebels seized a Moscow theatre, where some 700 people were attending a performance of the musical “Nord-Ost”, Russia’s officials temporarily closed the private Moscow television station Moskoviya for allegedly promoting terrorism and forced the independent Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio to remove from its Web a a telephone interview with a hostage-taker.

The Russian Assembly approved today on 1 November 2002 a series of new restrictions on the press

According to new regulations, as state officials say, media should not be allowed to give out information that would hinder counterterrorist operations, threaten lives, or function as terrorists – propaganda.
The amendments to the media law would block the media from distributing information that would hinder counterterrorist operations or reveal tactics used in such operations or information about people involved in them. Additional publication or broadcasting of propaganda or justification of extremist activity will be forbiden. State officials would decide what is a propaganda, extremist activity or counterterrorist operation.

Also today on 1 November Russian police searched the premises of the Moscow weekly newspaper, Versiya, connected to information published in an article by the newspaper on 27 May this year.