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#12 - JRL 7129
April 2, 2003

The Russian Press Ministry has voiced its concern over a call for a reduction in the number of US films and programmes on TV by the governor of the Far Eastern Maritime Territory, Sergey Darkin, reports Russian news agency Interfax. A statement released by the ministry said Darkin's words could be seen as a "call not to observe federal media law, whose main principle is media independence". The following is the text of a report in English by Interfax:

Moscow, 2 April: The Russian Press Ministry "has voiced scepticism" about the Maritime Territory's initiative to "draft a series of propaganda and counterpropaganda measures for the duration of the Iraq crisis". Earlier, the press service of Maritime Territory governor Sergey Darkin circulated a statement calling for a reduction in the number of US-made films and programmes on TV.

In its press release, which was obtained by Interfax on Wednesday 2 April , the Press Ministry said that it considers "the actions on the part of the Maritime Territory authorities to be attempts to interfere in the country's media editorial policy, which is seen as a matter of concern by the agency responsible for the development of the country's mass media".

The press release also voices concern that "the initiative of the Maritime Territory authorities can be understood as a call not to observe federal media law, whose main principle is media independence".

"According to Russian legislation, executive power bodies have no right to interfere in media editorial policy and no right to tell TV companies which films and programmes to broadcast," the press release reads.

The Press Ministry also noted that "the trend in executive bodies of power towards creating various councils and committees to oversee information policy and security is not justified in many cases and contradicts the spirit and purpose of the existing media law".

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