Mikhail Fedotov asks Council of the Federation to Reject Bills on NGOs, Defamation and Internet Censorship

Source: HRO.org (info), 17/07/12

· Freedom of speech

Head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, has written to the chair of the Council of the Federation, Valentina Matvienko. Mikhail Fedotov, as follows from the text of the letter, asks her to seek the rejection of the bills on NGOs, defamation and the “blacklisting” of websites.

According to Mikhail Fedotov, "the bills in question have been negatively assessed not only by our Council’s experts, but also by the Public Chamber, a number of UN special rapporteurs, and numerous Russian and international NGOs." His letter underlines that the bills establish disproportionate sanctions in cases where the accusations are essentially civil in nature, and also "are in evident contradiction with the underlying sources of Russian law.”

Mikhail Fedotov believes that the State Duma approved the bills in too much haste. In his view, this contradicts Presidential Decree № 601 of 7 May 2012 which obliges new bills to be subject to public consultations for a period "not less than 60 days." Mikhail Fedotov stressed that a special commission should be created to carry out additional work on these bills.

Mikhail Fedotov has already written to Valentina Matvienko at the beginning of June in relation to the amendments to the law on public assemblies. At that time the head of the Council of the Federation stated that she had not received the letter. In the past week the State Duma finally approved all three controversial bills. Two of them were passed on the last day of the spring session.