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Russian journalists split on new law on harsher punishments

Protesters in Russian, One Holding Sign in RussianMoscow, 26 November: The chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia (RUJ) Vsevolod Bogdanov supports the draft law on increasing maximum penalties for crimes against journalists, which has been submitted to the State Duma.

"One of the main initiators of the draft law was is Boris Reznik, our secretary (Duma MP - Interfax). Of course, these are our interests. We are talking about journalists' health: we must see and hear well, to tell the public what is really happening and defend their interests," Vladimir Bogdanov told Interfax today.
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Meanwhile, Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhaylin doubts the wisdom of the draft law that has been submitted to the Duma.

"The best way of preventing crimes is to make punishment unavoidable. Existing laws are enough to deal with crimes against persons, including crimes against journalists," Mikhaylin told Interfax today.

The Kommersant editor-in-chief was also surprised that the new draft law had not been discussed with the professional community.

"Nobody asked our opinion, and this is very sad," Mikhaylin said.

He also said that journalism is not a high-risk profession. (passage omitted)

(The secretary of the Journalists Union of Russia, Pavel Gutiontov told radio Ekho Moskvy that he was against the draft law, Ekho Moskvy news agency reported on 26 November. Gutiontov said his view differed from the Journalists Union's official position.

According to Gutiontov, "the draft law looks a bit like a mockery" because it does not make sense to increase penalties for uncaught criminals, he said.

He said it is more important to "respect the existing laws" and complete the investigations of crimes already committed. "First, things must be put in order in the police, courts and prosecution bodies, and only then stricter punishments should be introduced," the secretary of the Union of Journalists said.)

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