Is freedom of the media possible where there is no free press?

Freedom of the Press: Crash Course Government and Politics #26

Is freedom of the media possible where there is no free press?

According to experts, the authorities are not interested in the real problems of journalism and freedom of speech in Russia

More than 200 participants from among journalists, media experts, representatives of civil society and government authorities gathered at the conference “Freedom of the Media and Safety of Journalists in the Russian Federation and the OSCE Region: Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Age”. The forum was held in Moscow on November 6. It was organized by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

At the conference, in addition to the situation with freedom of the media and the safety of journalists, the problem of disinformation, the situation in the sphere of Internet regulation and other topics were discussed. According to the report of the non-governmental organization Freedom House on Internet freedom, published the day before, Russia ranks 51st among 65 countries in the global ranking..

The conference was opened by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Arlem Desir, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Both stressed the importance of compliance by all parties with international agreements that ensure favorable conditions for the work of journalists and the inadmissibility of their persecution for their professional activities..

Answering a question from the audience, Lavrov said that the Foreign Ministry does not support ideas aimed at depriving any foreign media outlets, including Deutsche Welle, from accreditation, but at the same time accused the German newspaper of involvement in the preparation of protest actions this summer in Moscow, repeating the traditional thesis of Russian authorities. According to him, DW admitted that they acted incorrectly.

“But I will emphasize once again that we do not consider it necessary, possible to introduce any restrictions (in relation to foreign media),” he said. – We want to be at the level of our commitments regarding freedom of activity for journalists and freedom of speech.

Later, the representative of Deutsche Welle Christoph Yumpelt told RBC that the imposition of sanctions against their publication would be unjustified, but he denied that DW admitted its mistakes. Prior to that, the Broadcasting Council of the German Media Corporation also rejected all allegations of interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation..

All the participants had different impressions about the conference. Vice President of the European Federation of Journalists Nadezhda Azhgikhina in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, she called the forum important. In her opinion, there is very little discussion in the country today about journalism and the problems that she faces on a daily basis and which are becoming more and more acute..

“They need to be discussed, not hushed up. She insists. – After all, a journalist performs a very important function, she has always been the engine of change, precisely because we actively discussed her problems. So this is an opportunity to outline a dialogue that is extremely necessary for everyone – both society and journalists. I spoke with colleagues from the regions. They are confused, do not believe in their strength and journalistic solidarity “.

This situation needs to be corrected, summed up Svetlana Azhgikhina.

Meanwhile, the composition of the conference participants was clearly heterogeneous, which immediately caught the eye. Yes, there were representatives of independent media here, but they did not prevail at all. At the same time, the speakers and moderators included the head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov, members of the State Duma and the Federation Council, representatives of the diplomatic department, state media and central television.

Nevertheless, the director of the Center for Digital Cultures and Media Literacy of the Higher School of Economics Anna Kachkaeva believes that “there is always some sense in such events. “Because any communication and any dialogue is better than a state of confrontation,” she explained in an interview with Voice of America. – It is clear that it is difficult in a situation of serious confrontation of views and attitudes on the problems of freedom of speech (between Europe and Russia) to agree on something concrete. But all the same it is necessary to talk, this is my deep conviction “.

The fact that discussions on this topic took place in a public space, with different accents and interpretations, is equally significant both for the Russian media sphere and for civil society, Anna Kachkaeva concluded..

At the editor-in-chief of MBH Media Veronica Kutsyllo, as she confessed, extremely strange sensations from the conference remained: “In one hall there are people who, in other places, as well as here, do not shake hands. Therefore, on the one hand, hopelessness emanates from the conference. It will not change anything, judging by the rhetoric of representatives of state bodies and pro-state media. For all the stories about what is really happening with journalists and journalism in Russia, we are answered: but in Europe it is not better, there, too, Russian journalists are not allowed somewhere. Thus, they simply get away from talking about what is happening in our country “.

At the same time, Veronica Kutsyllo admitted that since at the conference under the auspices of the OSCE the names of individual journalists who were in an extremely difficult situation in Russia were sounded, it might be possible to get them out.

The Voice of America correspondent also spoke to a journalist from Pskov on the sidelines of the conference. Svetlana Prokopieva, which is accused of justifying terrorism and which the Russian and international community has risen to defend. She, in particular, lamented that she had not been able to speak with the head of Roskomnadzor Zharov: “It’s a pity that I didn’t have time to ask him how he understands the role of Roskomnadzor in my life? Because my criminal case began with a memorandum from an ordinary employee of this department. Is this why Roskomnadzor was created for this? ”

In addition, as it seemed to Svetlana Prokopyeva, the conference was mostly concerned with Russia’s foreign policy, not domestic policy: “In any case, this is how you can understand its meaning from the speech of Mr. Lavrov. He has his own agenda – he protects the state-owned Russian media from pressure abroad “.

And the persecution of journalists inside Russia, it turns out, does not bother either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or any other ministry, she summed up.

  • Victor Vladimirov

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