Russia clarifies media laws

European Audiovisual Observatory welcomes guidance

MOSCOW — Guidelines issued by Russia’s Supreme Court on interpreting mass media laws should go a long way to improve protection of press freedoms, the European Audiovisual Observatory said Monday.

The adoption earlier this month by the court of a resolution of “judicial practice” relating to the country’s media law is the first time specific guidance has been issued for courts and judges to follow.

“The practical implications of this new text are enormous,” the Observatory, a Strasbourg, France-based body that is part of the Council of Europe, said.

“For the first time, the resolution lays down concrete details of journalistic privileges in gathering and reporting news and also guarantees certain degrees of freedom to the online media.

“For example, the guidance provided by the resolution means that the media in Russia will henceforth enjoy greater freedom in reporting on the contents of election campaigns.

“The resolution also stipulates explicitly that reporting on the private life of an individual can be condoned in legal terms if it is done in a way that is ‘necessary to protect the public interest’.”

The Observatory, which has produced a report on the court’s resolution, praised the work of Moscow’s Media Law and Policy Center, the director of which, Andrei Richter, wrote the analysis of the decision.

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