Post-Soviet Media Law & Policy Newsletter


Issue 30-31     Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law     May 30, 1996 

Signs of the Times

1.  Ukraine Parliament condemns Broadcasting officials.

    A report from the Ukraine news agency, Intelnews.
    On May 13, parliament voted to condemn the country’s top broadcasting officials for corruption, the officials decided to deprive it of its right to broadcast over Ukraine’s most powerful radio station.
    Several days later, millions of Ukrainians woke up Thursday morning unable to hear the usual 10am direct full broadcast of the parliament session on the first channel of Ukrainian radio: the radio announcer stating in a sweet, calm voice that the broadcast was transferred to the third channel.
    The first channel broadcasts over all of Ukraine, except some western oblasts regions , which are home to 2m of the country’s 52m people, and is accessible through ordinary Soviet-era wired radio sets provided to every Ukrainian apartment. These sets, a hold-over from totalitarianism, are capable of receiving only the one channel.
    For the country’s great mass of poor and retired, who are unable to afford newspaper subscriptions or buy their own radios, these sets are often the only source of information.
    Parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz informed deputies about the broadcasting changes on Thursday afternoon 16th May and said he was unaware about their necessity and purpose.
    However, Moroz said: “I think this was caused by our Monday 13th May resolution.” According to Speaker Moroz, another Parliament radio program, “Tribune of Deputies,” which airs views of different factions, was eliminated entirely.
    Parliament overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the State TV and Radio Committee Chairman Zinoviy Kulyk and National TV Company President Oleksandr Savenko for causing “damage to Ukraine’s national interests and state budget.” Parliament also called upon President Leonid Kuchma to eliminate the TV and Radio Committee and charged its top officials with massive corruption.
    Presidential chief-of-staff Dmytro Tabachnyk said on Wednesday 15th May that “not a single parliament in the world wastes such money, as Ukraine’s does broadcasting its sessions.”
    “When the milkmaid gets up at 5 a.m. and goes to the farm, she sinks into (manure) brackets as received and cannot see anything, because parliament spends electricity to broadcast its sessions on television until 3:30 a.m.,” he said, referring to the infrequent occasions when the Rada Ukrainian parliament utilizes state airwaves to broadcast discussions of important issues.
    Parliament ordered its mass-media committee to study the reason for the broadcast change and report back by Friday. Parliament passed a resolution in September, ordering the National Radio Company to broadcast parliament meetings in full every day.
    Communist Serhiy Aksionenko, chairman of parliament’s special committee investigating allocation of space on the airwaves, blamed “political censorship” for the change.

2.  Parliamentary commission attacks State Committee for Television and Radio.

    Text of report by UNIAN news agency.
    The State Committee for Television and Radio of Ukraine is pursuing a policy aimed at transferring control over state TV and radio channels to foreign companies, undermining the advertising market and allocating advertising time in favor of foreign companies, Serhiy Aksenenko, the chairman of the provisional commission set up to investigate the situation in Ukraine’s TV and radio broadcasting, said in a report he delivered in parliament on behalf of the commission. He said that according to the documents available to the commission, a significant share of the 7,400bn karbovantsi allocated from the budget to finance the activities of the State Committee for Television and Radio had been misused. In particular, 1,000bn karbovantsi were used to show products of the Inova-film company (FRG) as received.
    It was reported that most of the equipment had been purchased not from the manufacturers but through intermediaries. Besides, about 20 per cent of the funds allocated to buy the equipment were spent to buy transport for official use. Incidentally, the employees of the State Committee for Television and Radio had not been paid their salaries for several months, Aksenenko pointed out. He said the activities of the State Committee for Television and Radio “are aimed at servicing bureaucrats from the presidential administration,” and this prevents Ukrainian television from reaching high professional standards. He said that illegal censorship at Ukrainian television “affects the whole of the political spectrum in Ukraine.”
    The provisional investigatory commission proposed passing a vote of no-confidence in the chairman of the State Committee for Television and Radio of Ukraine, Zynoviy Kulyk, and the president of the National TV Company of Ukraine, Oleksandr Savenko.
     Addressing the deputies, Kulyk described most facts mentioned in the report by the provisional investigatory commission as “misinformation.” In particular, he disproved information that 20 per cent of the funds allocated for the purchase of equipment had been spent to buy transport for official use. He also said that the State Committee for Television and Radio had managed to meet the state target by 87 per cent, despite the fact that the committee received only 52 per cent of the required funds.

3. Sagalayev visits Belarus.

    Eduard Sagalayev, head of the All-Russia State TV and Radio Company (VGTRK) and president of the Confederation of Journalist Unions of Russia, ended a visit to Belarus on 3rd May, the Belapan news agency reported. It said that among the objectives of the visit has been “verification of information about numerous infringements of journalists’ rights, including those of VGTRK correspondents.”
    Sagalayev told a Belapan correspondent that he had had a two-hour meeting with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka at which a video of the “26th April events” (when police clashed with demonstrators in Minsk) was shown.
    The report continued: “Talking to us, the president took the tone of an offensive sincerity,” Mr Sagalayev said. “This was a monologue rather than a dialogue. We attentively listened to his viewpoint on many serious problems concerning both the Belarusian domestic policy and Belarusian-Russian relations. We of course spoke about the freedom of the press. We studied some incidents that happened to the NTV film crew and our television and radio company’s journalists.
    “I gained an intricate impression from this meeting. On one hand I understood that the case was somewhat different from what the president pictured; on the other hand it was difficult for me to shake off the feelings that this monologue had been achieved through much suffering, and that this man proves his case and suffers for his truth.”
    The reports said that, whilst in Minsk, Sagalayev had also met journalists of the newspaper Belarusskaya Maladzyozhnaya’, who had drawn his attention to the “continuing attacks” on journalists, the detention of the chief editor of Radio 2, Uladzimir Dzyuba, and the closure of the commercial television channel in Mahilyow after it covered the events of 26th April.

4.  Albania bans private subscribers to Internet.

    Excerpt from report by Henri Cili, “Stop to the Internet for private persons,” in the Albanian newspaper Drejt’ on 5th May.
    Only a short time ago, the international computer communication network known as the Internet, with its postal service known as e-mail, arrived in Albania. Only six state institutions and no private individuals have been able to use a link to the Internet. The reason is that the Albanian government has prohibited private subscribers from obtaining a link to the Internet.
    D. Andoni, an expert on this matter for the UNDP United Nations Development Program, in whose offices in Tirana the Internet coordinating equipment has been installed, told Drejt’: “We have refused applications from private subscribers because the state authorities have forbidden us to supply private persons with an entry code to the Net.” Andoni did not explain further the reasons given by the government for this “No” to private subscribers. Sources among individuals and private firms that have made such applications say the reason they have been refused is that the government claims that it cannot control the activities of private individuals on the Internet and considers that there is a danger of computer crime.
    Six state institutions, the Polytechnic University, the People’s Assembly, the prime minister’s office, the Harry Fultz Technical High School, the Soros Foundation and the presidency of the republic are linked to the Internet in Albania.



Socialist Newspaper Says Albanian Radio and TV Are Biased

    A commentator for a pro-Socialist newspaper, Zeri i Popullit, has said the Albanian state broadcasting organization has been turned into a “thought police” on the side of the ruling Democratic Party and against that party’s opponents. The following is the text of a commentary by Kujtim Ymeri, “Antipublic media,” May 22:
    If the state aimed to create a model of what the public media should not be in a democratic society, it has entirely achieved its goal. During the four years of the “reform,” Albanian Radio-Television RTSh has produced a sorry balance sheet. It has achieved total integration among the state’s political instruments and has indeed become one of them, serving the ruling party, the government and in particular the president. It is difficult to determine precisely its position among the cogs of the government, but I believe that in its blind obedience and political devotion it rivals the Constitutional Court, and in performing its duty to scare, persecute and disinform, it stands somewhere between the police and the National Intelligence Service.
    As I write these lines, I must beg the pardon of all those dozens of RTSh staff, journalists, producers, cameramen etc., that have had nothing to do with the political function of the institution where they work. Yet the reality is that at a time of artificial tensions the public media will be gauged by or indeed identified with their information and news programs, in which political commitment and political exploitation have become evident.
    It is now four years, if not more, since this national institution, which is financed by all Albanians and must by law be at the service of all, has been seized by a phobia against the political forces that have stood out against the ruling Democratic Party PD or President S. Berisha himself. For four years, it has been subjected to their needs, zigzags and whims. For four years it has played on people’s feelings and nerves, humiliating, slandering and insulting not merely parties and their leaders but honest citizens and professionals, including journalists. This is why RTSh has become so much less watchable, not to say less trustworthy.
    There has not been a single major political campaign in which the RTSh has not openly lined up alongside the PD, and there is not a single error or sin of this party to which the RTSh has not made its contribution. Let us recall the local elections of 26th July 1992 and the referendum of 6th November 1994, its disgraceful role in the persecution and imprisonment of Socialist leader Fatos Nano, its scandalous attacks on Democratic Alliance chairman Neritan Ceka, Social Democrats’leader Skender Gjinushi, Socialist deputy chairman Servet Pellumbi and Democratic Alliance founder member Gramoz Pashko, its unscrupulous involvement in the denigration of the National Liberation War of the Albanian people and its campaign to disinter and glorify the collaborators with the occupation forces and war criminals. The list could go on a long time.
    It may seem extreme, but the truth is that the public media have been turned into a thought police whose purpose is to hinder information and reduce political convictions and opinions to uniformity. The place taken up by statements, reports and communiques of the Interior Ministry and assorted statements served up by “the responsible authorities” (such as the case of Ylli Polovina) makes you think that this undeclared police force is working alongside its uniformed counterpart.
    In the last few years RTSh’s reporting has had two main purposes. The first has been to indoctrinate the Albanian people within and beyond our borders in the views and policies of the ruling party and describe the government’s real or imagined achievements and the total support it allegedly enjoys at home and throughout the world. This purpose is served by the president’s two-hour news conferences, enthusiastic reporting, statements by foreign hirelings and favorable tit-bits from the press. The second purpose is to present a distorted picture of the opposition, especially the Socialist Party PS . The main means employed have been an extreme restriction of the space available to the PS and its alternatives, deception, slander, the absence of a right to reply and a game of ping-pong played with news reports between the RTSh, ATA and the newspaper Gazeta Shqiptare’. When possible, the trick of using foreign news agencies with the aforementioned subjects has been used.
    The election campaign that is now reaching its conclusion has crowned this illegal policy that has been quite deliberately chosen. It would be too much to go into amounts of air-time, tricks of filming, montages and the manipulation of cheering columns. Let us set on one side the despairing presidential marathon and the anachronistic tear-jerking reports of television and radio reporters. More significant has been the criminal enthusiasm with which the road blocks at Shijak and Shkoder were described, because it shows how deeply the directors and some reporters of the public media have sunk and how far they glorify in their breaches of the law.
    There is today no political force that has not complained and protested. The PD itself has even protested “bitterly” several times. I think that this must be welcomed as an attempt to introduce a note of humour into this vicious campaign, rather like Fadil Hysa’s presence at the president’s meetings.
    What have been the fruits of such an information policy? Of course, they have not been and could not be positive. This policy has destroyed the image of the RTSh, and at the same time has done a poor service to the ruling party and the state’s leaders. This is because the policy has gone beyond all bounds. The inspirers and executors of this policy have considered the public to be a brainless rabble, and have lacked professionalism. The saying “Better a wise enemy that a stupid friend” has a point.
    This election campaign should have been a good opportunity for an about-turn, to show the people that the RTSh does possess professionals and real democrats, which is only the truth. This opportunity was missed. Zealots and bootlickers still rule the roost. In those few days left before 26th May, it is hard to imagine that an image that has become ingrained in the course of four years can be changed. However, even this short time would be enough for those who do not identify themselves with this image to send out the first signals of an independent, free and democratic RTSh, such as it will be after this important date.



Transcaucasus: Attacks on Press

     The following is the latest issue of a monthly newsletter, “TransCaucasus: A Chronology,” examining events in the lower Caucasus.

Armenia

ATTACKS ON THE PRESS IN 1995 - Committee to Protect Journalists

    In January 1995, CPJ participated in a fact-finding mission to Armenia to investigate the closures of 11 publications, which came on the heels of a Dec. 28, 1994, decree by President Levon Ter-Petrossian . . . Following the decree, security agencies raided the editorial offices of Yerkir, the official ARF newspaper and the largest circulation daily in the republic, as well as four ARF-affiliated news organizations and six independent ones. All the editorial offices were then closed, ostensibly because they were benefiting from illegal sources of funding. At the end of 1995, the decree was still in effect and none of the editorial offices had reopened. In a letter to the president in February, CPJ denounced the closures, arguing that the affected publications were presumed guilty without being given a trial and called on him to take steps to improve the state of press freedom in Armenia.

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

    2 April: The nature of the press in Armenia is the subject of a conference organized by the Yerevan press club and the Friedreich Ebert Fund of Armenia. The session, consisting of several prominent journalists and academics, criticizes the government's trend toward totalitarianism, citing the severe limitation on the function and role of a free press. The weak nature of the government in terms of combating crime and economic injustice is also highlighted. The role of the press in campaigns and political elections is also discussed, with the government's banning of nearly all of the country's opposition media outlets coming under harsh criticism by the participants. The conference also notes that a strong free press is necessary to provide balance to the government during the campaign and is essential to any emerging democratic political system such as Armenia.

    11 April: In a joint statement issued in Yerevan, the Democratic Party of Armenia and the Scientific-Industrial Civil Union (SICU) criticize the country's parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum last year for being conducted in a fraudulent and unfair manner. The statement, voicing allegations lodged by several international election observers, specifically blames the government and its election officials for the electoral fraud. The statement calls on the Armenian government to ensure free and fair elections for the upcoming presidential race by establishing adequate legal safeguards protecting the rights of all candidates and political parties. Since the poor performance of the government and the electoral authorities in conducting last July's parliamentary elections and the constitutional referendum, virtually all groups within the country have expressed serious doubt whether the presidential elections will be free of fraud or voting irregularities.

    20 April: The trial of thirty-one prominent figures of the republic's largest opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), on various charges of treason and the attempted overthrow of the government, continues in Armenia's Supreme Court. The defendants are also charged with plotting to assassinate a number of high-ranking Armenian government officials. To date, the trial has been marked by several serious inconsistencies and significant and continued violations of the defendants' rights to due process and access to counsel.

Republic of Georgia

ATTACKS ON THE PRESS IN 1995 - Committee to Protect Journalists

    The greatest problem for the Georgian news media in 1995 was fear of paramilitary groups and organized crime. A turning point of sorts was reached after the attempt on the life of President Eduard Shevardnadze on Aug. 29. Until that time, the Georgian media hesitated to write about the increasingly brazen behavior of Hedrioni, a military detachment that fought in the war in Abkhazia and, after officially being reassigned to humanitarian rescue work, turned some of its attention to kidnapping, extortion and other crimes. The Hedrioni unit, however, was implicated in the attack on Shevardnadze and was promptly disbanded. In the wake of its dispersion, the Georgian press for the first time began writing freely about Hedrioni's criminal activities. In general, those in the print media may write what they like, but there is widespread self-censorship among journalists when it comes to expressing open opposition to the government and especially direct criticism of Shevardnadze, who was re-elected by a large majority on Nov. 14. Broadcasts on state television are subjected to prior censorship and, at present, there are no private television stations.

Republic of Azerbaijan

ATTACKS ON THE PRESS IN 1995 - Committee to Protect Journalists

    Independent editors charge that since the crushing of a police mutiny in March, the government has practiced political as well as military censorship. On March 17, Adil Bunyatov, a cameraman for Reuters and the Turan News Agency, was killed while filming the rebellion. The Turan News Agency reported that government censorship introduced in the wake of the uprising prevented opposition newspapers and the independent media from revealing any details about Bunyatov's death . . . All newspapers felt the heavy hand of state censors when it came to criticisms of the president. Any negative references to the head of state had to be removed before a paper went to press, and as a result newspapers routinely appeared with blank spaces. CPJ wrote to President Aliyev repeatedly to protest the censorship of all the country's newspapers and the trial of the Chesme journalists [who were arrested and sentenced for publishing caricatures of the president].

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

    18-19 April: The Aliyev government's repressive crackdown against the country's opposition parties intensifies with the arrests of the leader of the opposition Musavat party, Arif Hadjiev, and the former head of ousted President Abulfez Elchibey's administration, Giyas Sadykhov. Azerbaijani security forces also launch raids of Elchibey's headquarters in the village of Keleki in Nakhichevan. Although former President Elchibey is not found in the course of the raids, a large number of his followers, members of the banned opposition Azeri Popular Front, are arrested. In response to the crackdown, the chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Araz Ali-Zade, addresses a conference of representatives of several human rights organizations in Moscow and reports that there are over 2500 Azerbaijanis currently held in prison in Azerbaijan solely for their political beliefs. The Azerbaijani opposition figure denounces the Aliyev government for using increasingly repressive measures aimed at eliminating the opposition and fostering a virtual totalitarian state.

To obtain more future information contact: Richard Giragosian (giragosi@essential.org).
Source: Attacks on the Press in 1995, A Worldwide Survey Committee to Protect Journalists, March 1996



Uzbek Broadcasting Reorganization Decree

    Decree by the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan on measures to enhance the role of television and radio in the social development of Uzbekistan.
    With the aim of further developing television and radio broadcasting as an important democratic institution, of ensuring constitutional development, observance of legality and the defense of human rights and dignity, and of increasing its influence on the implementation of radical economic, political and social reforms in the republic, I, Islam Karimov, decree:
    1.  The State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company of Uzbekistan is to be reorganized into the Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan (Uzteleradio), with local branches in the regions.
    2.  It is to be laid down that the Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan:
    — is the legal successor to the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, is the coordinating body in television and radio broadcasting in Uzbekistan and is accountable in its activities to the Cabinet;
    — is an independent economic entity with the rights of a corporate body, established in order to produce output and to perform work and services aimed at meeting public needs for mass information;
    — enjoys the rights of founder, editor, distributor and publisher of the mass media;
    — is financed from the republic’s budget and through funds raised from commercial and economic activities. . . .
    4.  The main tasks and fields of activity of the Television and Radio Company are defined as follows:
    — to study and meet the needs of the public and society for objective, reliable and diverse information, ensuring that such information is completely non-ideological;
    — to provide broad information to the country’s people and the foreign public on the changes taking place in Uzbekistan’s political, economic, social and cultural life;
    — to ensure increasing public influence on the development and strengthening of our independent state, and actively to involve various sections of society, political parties and movements in open and constructive discussion of topical problems in building a modern, civilized society;
    — to provide thorough-going explanation of constitutional norms and of legality in the country, and to render comprehensive assistance in their realization and in shaping a lawful society;
    — to reflect diversity in public opinion and to guarantee respect for the convictions and dignity of the individual and his rights and freedoms, which are laid down in the constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan;
    — to organize television and radio programs and to disseminate information inside and outside the republic which is based on high standards of decency, accuracy and impartiality; not to allow the use of material which promotes cruelty, belittles human dignity or could be interpreted as offending people on religious, ethnic or cultural grounds;
    actively to involve the public in building a civic society, to educate people in the spirit of respect for common democratic values and for the national heritage and of inter-ethnic accord and friendship, and to instill in the young generation high spiritual features and love for and loyalty to the motherland;
    — actively to promote the idea of free, creative labor and enterprise, and to encourage a search for the best and alternative ways of implementing the tasks of a socially-oriented market economy;
    — to provide training, re-training and probationary work for staff in television and radio broadcasting, to raise their professional standards and the quality of programs, and to ensure diversity of programming by using up-to-date equipment and by switching to progressive broadcasting technology;
    — to render practical help and to coordinate the activities of local television and radio broadcasting branches;
    — to provide for creative cooperation with leading foreign television and radio companies, and actively to promote the establishment of their branches and representative offices in Uzbekistan.
Tax relief until 2000, then self-financing
    5.  The Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan:
    — has one month in which, together with the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to draw up and submit proposals for a stage-by-stage switch by the company to self-financing from 2000, taking into account a gradual reduction in funding from the budget;
    — has two months in which, together with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labor, it should draw up and approve regulations for the transition to progressive forms of setting working hours and remuneration rates for staff in the television and radio company, which envisages making staff remuneration dependent on the actual volume, quality, genres and ratings of programs.
    6.  The Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan and its enterprises and organizations are to be exempt from tax on profits raised from savings, advertising, and other activities up to the year 2000, and the funds thus freed are to be directed to strengthening the company’ s material and technical base.
    7.  The Ministry of Communications, together with the Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, the State Committee for Statistics and Forecasting and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan, has two months in which to draw up and submit for approval by the Cabinet of Ministers a state program to disseminate television and radio programs to all the regions of the country, using up-to-date communications equipment attracted through leading foreign television and radio and other companies.

Narodnoye Slovo,’ Tashkent, May 8, 1996



Russian Information Disputes Chamber Decision

    Decision No. 7(90) of April 4, 1996, On the Publications by E. V. Limonov, (Savenko) “Hand Grenade at Croats” and “Black List of Peoples”in the Newspaper Limonka, Nos. 13 and 16 (1995)
    In accordance with article 20 of the Statute on the Russian Federation Presidential Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes, the Judicial Chamber has examined the content of the publications by E. V. Limonov (Savenko) “Hand Grenade at Croats” and “Black List of Peoples” in the newspaper Limonka, Nos. 13 and 16 (1995).
    Having familiarized itself with said newspaper materials and having heard the testimony of Limonka editor-in-chief E. V. Limonov (Savenko), the secretary of the Union of Moscow Journalists (I. S. Simanchuk), the representative of the RF Press Committee (N. I. Novikov), and experts (V. A. Shnerel’man, M. A. Mel’nikov, A. A. Malinovskii), and the expert assessment of S. K. Roshchin, the Judicial Chamber has established:
    In proclaiming and guaranteeing freedom of thought, speech, and mass information, the Russian Federation Constitution also prohibits propaganda or agitation that incites social, racial, nationalist, or religious hatred and enmity (art. 29).
    Propaganda of war, in whatever form, is also prohibited by law and is recognized as a criminal act.
    The articles by Limonka editor-in-chief E. V. Limonov (Savenko) “Black List of Peoples” and “Hand Grenade at Croats” (reprinted by the newspaper Novyi vzgliad and published as an insert in the newspaper Moskovskaia pravda) contain features that insult entire peoples: Chechens, Czechs, Slovaks, Latvians, Croats, and several others. These publications flagrantly violate legal and ethical norms.
    For example, in the publication “Black List of Peoples,” the author discussed the “collective guilt of peoples” and “bad peoples,” “substantiating” and justifying Stalinist repressions against Chechens, Ingush, and Crimean Tatars. He asserted that Stalin was right to punish minority peoples for their war crimes committed as allies of Hitler’s Germany. And this was despite the fact that in contemporary Russia all repressed peoples have been legally rehabilitated and the crimes of Stalin and his allies against these peoples have been unequivocally and sharply condemned. Thus, editor-in-chief E.V. Limonov (Savenko) violated article 4 of the RF Law on Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples, which prohibits agitation or propaganda for the purpose of impeding rehabilitation of repressed peoples.
    Attempting to provide historical support for the thesis that there exist “bad” peoples, E. V. Limonov (Savenko) resorted to substitution of concepts. He claimed that acts by war criminals who were individual representatives or groups from one nationality or another were crimes by entire peoples.
    Citing the events of the Russian Civil War and in particular the history of the so-called “Czechoslovakian corps,” the author went so far as to say that this corps’ actions “more than justified a decade of future invasions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.” That is, following the logic of E. V. Limonov (Savenko), responsibility for actions committed seventy years ago by a thousand people ought to be borne by millions of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
    The author directs analogous threats against the pre-Baltic states (“the terrible and powerful neighbor once in a bad mood will hit you in the head”).
    In essence, E. V. Limonov (Savenko) is an advocate of revenge and mass terror, raised to the level of state policy.
    Moreover, the journalist is an apologist for the insane, misanthropic “theory” that there is an almost genetic predisposition of certain peoples to manifest features such as cruelty and malice on a mass scale and regular basis. For example, in “Hand Grenade at Croats,” he observes that the Croats are “an exceptionally savage people” and concludes with the following wish: “Let their children be born without fingers.” Here too the author changes the responsibility of war criminals, which necessarily attaches, into the responsibility of women, the elderly, and children who were guilty of nothing whatsoever.
    In the Judicial Chamber’s opinion, dissemination of such information by the editorial office and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Limonka was illegal and immoral. It represented a violation of article 4 of the RF Law on the Mass Media—abuse of freedom of mass information in the form of an incitement of nationalist hatred and enmity and propaganda of war.
    Such publications in the Russian press also damage the international reputation of the Russian Federation. They are contrary to the international treaty obligations of Russia, its policy of good relations with its neighbors and cooperation, and its programs for peaceful political resolution of the most critical problems of today, especially settlement of military conflicts.
    During the hearing, editor-in-chief E.V. Limonov (Savenko) stated that he actually supported the views expressed in these publications. The appearance of the article “Black List of Peoples” was associated with his emotional assessment of the events in the city of Budennovsk. He also explained that he did not consider the legislation violated by dissemination of his publication to be mandatory in its application, since this legislation could be revised in the future.
    However, the Judicial Chamber does not regard the arguments of E. V. Limonov (Savenko) as justifying dissemination of said publications.
    The Judicial Chamber observes that circulation of such materials through republication in other publications also promotes incitement of nationalist hatred and discord.
    Considering the foregoing and guided by arts. 8, 10, 11, and 12 of the Statute on the Russian Federation Presidential Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes, the Judicial Chamber has decided:
    1.  To send the materials of this case to the RF Press Committee and propose that it issue an official warning to the editorial office of the newspaper Limonka regarding the editorial office’s violation of art. 4 of the RF Law on the Mass Media in publishing the articles “Hand Grenade at Croats” and “Black List of Peoples” in Limonka, Nos. 13 and 16 (1995).
    2.  To send the materials of this case to the Moscow procuracy to examine whether Limonka editor-in-chief E. V. Limonov (Savenko) can be held legally responsible.
    3.  To publish this decision in Rossiiskaia gazeta.

Chairman of the Judicial Chamber
A. Vengerov
Translated by Frances Foster



Committee on Information Policy and Communication of the State Duma
of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

    The new composition of the Duma Committee shows a stronger tilt to the left and nationalist policies than the previous one. Gone is Poltoranin, gone is Yakovenko, gone is Nisnevich (none was re-elected to the Duma), the chair went to Oleg Finko, a member of the LDPR list. Born in 1941, Dr. Oleg Finko used to teach at the School of Journalism, Moscow State University, he was director of a publishing house, worked in the press at the Far East, and turned to professional politics only with the collapse of communism.
    Unlike Poltoranin, Finko will gain more powers in the field of mass media regulation due to the abolishments of the subcommittees (on Communications and Informatics, on the Press, on Television and Radio), that used to exist before and acted rather independently of the agenda set by the Committee Chair: they could hire experts, convene hearings, etc. Now the chairman has deputies responsible for directions of the Committee activities, but without any real power. One of the directives, coverage of the state bodies and the forthcoming presidential elections by the mass media, formalizes the long interest of the Duma to the way it is portrayed by the mass media, and might involve attempts to censor reports from the parliament.
    Finko, as well as Chikin and Lukashev sat on the Committee in the previous Duma. Another former deputy chair of the Committee, Gennady Seleznev, became speaker of the Duma.
    According to sources inside the Committee, the professional level of its members seems to be below that of the previous composition. LDPR and CPRF dominate the discussion at the Committee meetings, with weak rebuff provided by Nesterov, Volkov, and Lukashev. It is yet unclear if Finko will change the staff of the Committee: experts and analysts first of all.
    A strange light to the activity of the Committee will be given by the presence of a controversial businessman Valentin Tsoi on the board.
    With the agenda of the law-making set from now until at least the day of presidential elections by Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky, it is unclear if some of the pending drafts, Broadcasting Bill first of all, will be revised before going for the approval of the full house, or what will be the priorities of the Committee. With the departure of the ambitious, energetic, and well-connected Chair Poltoranin, it is easy to predict a slow-down in the mass media law-making in the next years.

    Nikolai P. Astafiev, Liberal-Democratic party of Russia (LDPR), previous job: served as a Duma deputy of the first convocation (1993-95), tel. 292-3315.
    Nina V. Berdnikova, Communist party of Russian Federation (CPRF), TV moderator and announcer of AOOT Telekompania Podmoskoviet (TV Stock Company’s Moscow Region), Committee responsibilities include review of the coverage of the state bodies and the forthcoming presidential elections by the mass media, regulation of the parliament’s TV company, tel 292-5145, 292-9865.
    Valentin V. Chikin, CPRF, previously was a Duma deputy and the Committee member of the first convocation, the editor of Sovetskaya Rossiat (Soviet Russia) daily, tel. (newspaper) 257-5152.
    Oleg A. Finko, LDPR, previously was a Duma deputy and the Committee deputy chair of the first convocation, the editor Yuridicheskaya gazetat (Judicial Newspaper), chair of the Committee, tel. 292-9630.
    Rinat G. Gabidullin, CPRF, associate editor of Vechernyaya Ufa (Evening Ufa) daily, deputy chair of the Committee in charge of print media and publishing issues, tel. 292-9896.
    Igor L. Lukashev, Yabloko, previously was a Duma deputy of the first convocation, tel. 292-9865, 292-5145.
    Yuri M. Nesterov, Yabloko, Member of the Board of the International Charitable Fund of Political and Legal Research, deputy chair of the Committee in charge of information rights and informatics issues, tel. 292-6785, 292-6202 (fax).
    Vladimir N. Toporkov, CPRF, correspondent of Sovetskaya Rossiat (Soviet Russia) daily in the city of Lipetsk.
    Valentin Ye. Tsoi, Russian Regional association of independent deputies, Chair of the Board of Founders, Dalnevostochny soyuzt (Far Eastern Union) consortium, deputy chair of the Committee in charge of broadcasting issues, tel. 292-9690, 292-4005.
    Gennady K. Volkov, Our Home Is Russia party, first deputy head of the Administration of the Vladimir Region, deputy chair of the Committee in charge of communications issues, tel. 292-0108.
    Larissa A. Zlobina, Russian Regional association of independent deputies,TV moderator of Kareliat TV Company, tel. 292-3714.

Address: State Duma, 1, Okhotny ryad, Moscow 103009, Russia.