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#3 - JRL 7240
BBC Monitoring
Electoral law amendments pose threat to Russian regional media - journalists
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1220 gmt 25 Jun 03

[No dateline, as received] New amendments to the law "On media" will be the means of targeting "those independent outlets that will try to say that the elections are rigged and dirty", Oleg Panfilov, director of the Centre of Extreme Journalism, has told Ekho Moskvy radio.

On 25 June, the Federation Council passed amendments to the law "On the main guarantees of election rights" that introduces stricter responsibility for electoral violations, including that for mass media.

Russia's regional press will be mostly endangered, Panfilov said. "Especially those independent media outlets that try to preserve somehow the notion of freedom of speech, that say something during the election campaign," he added.

As for the capital [federal, actually] media, "it has established its likes and dislikes long ago", Panfilov said.

Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Union of Journalists, also believes that "the amendments will be used selectively".

"Only selected media outlets - those that initially are suspected of being able to say something "wrong" - will be monitored. There would be no limitations on praising One Russia," Yakovenko said speaking on Ekho Moskvy.

"As for TV, everything is all right here: we have already received a single picture and single text on all the major issues of Russia's life," he added.

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