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Press release, 10.07.2000
Grigory Yavlinsky: the absence of independent information has caused Russia’s troubles throughout its history

Lies of behalf of the authorities and the absence of independent information has been at the source of Russia’s troubles throughout its history, said Yabloko’s leader Grigory Yavlinsky, when advocating the freedom of speech at a meeting with representatives of international organisations.

He also cited the example of how people deprived of any information on Chernobyl catastrophe when on a demonstration on May 1 in Kiev and referred to the rising death toll in Chechnya. Yavlinsky also noted that the Yabloko party protests against the governments’ policy towards press freedom.

In his opinion this issue is more important for Russia today than for any other European country, as the number of independent mass media in Russia is very small.

Therefore an attack on the freedom of speech is implicitly an infringement of political freedoms and the democratic system in general. “If there is a goal to liquidate political parties in Russia it is sufficient to liquidate only one television channel and several papers, so that none of the non-Kremlin politicians has an opportunity to inform the citizens of the viewpoint of his electorate and his party,” stressed Yavlinsky. Yavlinsky called pressure on NTV television company as “pressure on the main independent information base of the thinking part of society”, which in the end renders the prospects of stable and secure society in Russia very doubtful.

At the meeting Yavlinsky also said that the political culture of Russia’s mass media is very low.

Yavlinsky said: “The main TV channels owned by the state are used exclusively for political manipulation.” Lies and unjustified charges are possible, as there is no independent court system in Russia. By lowering the political culture of the population in general, the authorities hope to create a system of a “manageable democracy”, a term which has recently been used frequently by the presidential advisors.

The delegation now visiting Russia on the invitation of the Journalists’ Union includes the Chairman of the World Committee for the Free Press James Ottaway, the heads of the Committee for Protection of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Federation of the Periodic Press, the International Institute of Press and the International Newspaper Association.