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All-Russia Democratic Assembly and the Guild of Court Reporters

Statement on the trial against Novaya Gazeta newspaper

April 8, 2002

Russian politics for an outsider looks like a panopticum, where you can see all types of monsters. There are monsters that can devour a whole economic sector in an instant, people who like weather-vanes start rotating speedily at the smallest breeze Basmanny Intermunicipal Court in Moscow adopted two unprecedented decisions, obliging the editing house of Novaya Gazeta to pay compensation for moral damage of THIRTY and FIFTEEN MILLION ROUBLES. Clearly, if these decisions come into force, the readers will never see Novaya Gazeta again.

We, representatives of democratic parties and non-political public associations of Russia, consider these judicial acts an open insult to Russia's Constitution and the Civil Code. This is an example of a loose and arbitrary mockery of law.

Is it really true that the professional judges who took such a decision did not realise that such compensation should mitigate the definite physical and moral sufferings of an individual? The usage of this legal institution for PUNISHMENT, BANKRUPTCY OR THE RESTRICTION OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS IS ABSOLUTELY UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Did they forget that the size of such compensation should meet the requirement of BEING REASONABLE AND JUST? If we adhere to this logics then what amount should be awarded to compensate for the sufferings of people convicted owing to juridical errors or others who were for no reason detained for years in detention cells?

We are convinced that the court of higher instance will repeal these decisions which disgrace Russian judges. We are appealing to the Supreme Qualification Board of Judges to issue a public assessment of the activities of their colleagues.

(in the order of signing)

Union of Journalists of the RF - I.A. Yakovenko
Glasnost Protection Fund - A.K. Simonov
Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO - G.A.Yavlinsky
Democratic Russia movement - L.A. Ponomaryov
Russian Joint Social Democratic Party - M. S. Gorbachev
Socio-Ecological Union - A. V. Yablokov
Coordination Council of Refugees and Forced Migrants - L.I.Grafova
Union of Right-Wing Forces - B. E. Nemtsov, M.A. Fedotov
Right to Life and Civil Dignity - V.V. Kogan-Yasniy
Democratic Union - V.I. Novodvorskaya
"Common Action" initiative group (movement of defenders of human rights) - S.A.Kovalyov
Guild of Court Reporters - L. Nikitinskiy
Farmers' Party of Russia - Yu. D. Chernichenko
Republican Party of the RF - V. N. Lysenko
"Choice of Russia" movement - A. P. Kashirin
Confederation of Consumers' Associations - A. A. Auzan
"Memorial" association - A. Cherkasov
Party of Economic Liberty - K .N. Borovoi
Russian Human Rights Research Centre - V. D. Melnikova
Yu. N. Afanasyiev
L. M. Batkin
Yu. A. Ryzhov
A. N. Yakovlev

See also:

Freedom of Speech and Media Law in Russia

Democratic Coalition

Judicial reprisal against Novaya Gazeta newspaper represents another stage of the onslaught against the free mass media. Press Release, March 6, 2002.

Nezavisymaya Gazeta, April 11, 2002

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