| Two Russian news magazines, the first victims of a draconian
law, have received warnings from the press ministry about their coverage
voting in Moscow.
Russia has amended its election laws to forbid the media during an election
campaign reporting on candidates' personalities or background, or analysing
The law was explained as an attempt to crack down on the black-PR campaigns
of previous elections, when candidates paid journalists to smear their
But its blanket ban on basic political analysis and debate has drawn
criticism that the Kremlin's vision of a "managed democracy"
over into outright censorship of the press.
The weekly magazines Kommersant Vlast and Tverskaya 13 were both served
with warnings this week after they published articles about the Moscow
Under the new law, which came into effect in the summer but is being
applied for the first time in the run-up to the parliamentary elections
December, a paper is allowed two warnings about its coverage before it
Vlast was chastised for an article called "Are you not tired of
because it apparently contained judgments on an electoral candidate, the
Russian media reported. Tverskaya 13 was chided for an article headlined
"Fire from a paraffin lamp", which gave full details of a press
in which the Moscow mayor laid out his plans.
It was apparently guilty of reporting a candidate's non-professional
activities and reporting on only one candidate. Under the new law the
coverage has to include every candidate. A committee of 15 journalists
other news outlets judged the articles.
The warnings will add to the growing fear of state control in Russia.
Tuesday night a festival of Chechen films depicting human rights abuses
during the fighting there was called off, the organisers citing pressure
from the security service. The films were shown in the US before coming
Moscow just before the Chechen presidential election.
of Speech and Media Law in Russia
State Duma Elections 2003