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The leaders of the SPS and Yabloko advocate strengthening privately-owned mass media

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The leaders of the right-wing factions of the State Duma (the SPS and Yabloko) noted that the release by the International Committee for Protection of Journalists of a list of the leaders of states regarded as opponents of mass media on the International Day of a Free Press (on May 3) had a negative impact for Russia. This list includes the President of Russia Vladimir Putin together with Chairman of the People's Republic of China Zsyan Zsemin, the Cuban head of state Fidel Castro and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

The leader of the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) faction Boris Nemtsov noted in an interview that Putin has a good chance to prove that he does not oppose freedom of speech.

"To avoid the ambiguity of this situation and demonstrate that the President is not against the existence of a private channel, Putin should make the leadership of Gazprom sell all shares in the mass media that they own," said Nemtsov. He also said that this is what the representatives of the SPS faction insisted on at a meeting with the head of Russia at the end of April.

In turn Deputy Head of the Yabloko faction Sergei Ivanenko, in an interview on Thursday May 3, 2001, said that the President of Russia should demonstrated by action his adherence to freedom of speech, "which he has been constantly speaking about." Here, said Ivanenko, "actions targeted at ensuring the economic independence of the mass media and free competition on the information market" should be undertaken.

Ivanenko added: "I think that it would be right if our authorities "announced a regime of free access to broadcasting to stimulate the creation of new large-scale national television companies by granting them corresponding licences on s competitive basis."

According to Ivanenko, the authorities could support draft legislative acts on advertising as the main source of financing of the independent mass media."

In addition, noted Ivanenko, the country should establish "a regime of s special attitude to journalists and their work to guarantee their personal safety and professional protection".

Based on Interfax reports.
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