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Human Rights Council Tells President Penalties for Defamation Should Be Reduced

14 December 2012 

Source: (info
The Presidential Council on Human Rights is proposing to the head of state that the article on defamation in the Criminal Code be softened and that the article on insulting representatives of the authorities be removed completely. Kommersant writes on 14 December, citing Council member and chair of the Agora Human Rights Association, Pavel Chikov. 

"The questioning of journalist Elena Masyuk, a member of the Council, in a defamation case served as a challenge to the new membership of the Human Rights Council which we had to react to," said Chikov. 

The human rights defenders are proposing a reduction in the excessive (in their opinion) fine of 5 million rubles, as well as the clarification of parts of the law which are currently open to broad interpretation, writes

"The definition of defamation as the knowing dissemination of false information does not reliably distinguish between facts and value judgements, the truth of which the accused will not be able to prove," reads the proposal. 

The document's authors are also proposing decriminalizing Article 319 of the Criminal Code ("Insulting a Representative of Authority") and changing the law on interference with the lawful professional activity of journalists, prescribing punishment for forcing a journalist to dissemination information and for the refusal of representatives of authority to disseminate information. 

As head of the Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov told the publication in an interview, all of these proposals will be considered by the Council and passed on to the president after further revision.