Editor-in-Chief of Moskovsky Komsomolets calls for rethink of Rosbalt closure

posted 28 Oct 2013, 04:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Oct 2013, 04:02 ]
25 October 2013 

Source: HRO.org (info)
RIA Novosti has reported that the editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper and head of the Public Chamber’s commission on the mass media, Pavel Gusev, has asked the head of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Communications Agency), Aleksandr Zharov, to halt the proceedings against the St. Petersburg news agency Rosbalt.

According to Lenta.ru, Gusev referred to Roskomnadzor’s call for the withdrawal of Rosbalt’s licence “excessive”, and asked the agency to review its decision. Gusev said that “the closure of one of the most popular news agencies in St. Petersburg would have a negative impact on the media in general and on freedom of speech in Russia.”

Others who have already spoken out in support of Rosbalt include Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, and several members of the State Duma.

The case brought by Roskomnadzor with a view to annulling Rosbalt’s registration is scheduled for hearing in court on 25 October. It follows two warnings issued by Roskomnadzor to Rosbalt in connection with violations of the law on mass media and the use of explicit language in its publications. The agency’s lawsuit also states that the warnings “were not contested in court or deemed unlawful".

For its part, Rosbalt claims that the notices were issued in respect of two video clips from the Internet showing the moment of impact of the Chelyabinsk meteor rather than editorial material. According to the management of the news agency, the videos were removed from the site following Roskomnadzor’s complaints, and any explicit language in video clips is now “beeped out”. Rosbalt has also said that both of Roskomnadzor’s warnings had been contested and are being heard by a magistrates’ court in Judicial District No 198 in the Kuntsevsky district of Moscow.