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Aleksei Venediktov: On the warning issued to Ekho Moskvy by Roskomnadzor, the Russian telecom regulator (Echo of Moscow)

posted 9 Nov 2014, 08:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Nov 2014, 08:34 ]
2 November 2014

By Aleksei Venediktov

Source: Ekho Moskvy

Of course, everyone wants to know why Roskomnadzor has issued a written warning to both the “Ekho Moskvy” radio station and the website. For no good reason. But let's start at the beginning.

The radio station and website are two separate mass media outlets, so I will treat them one at a time.

On 29 October, on the “With our own eyes” programme, Los Angeles Times journalist Sergei Loiko and Timur Olevsky, a journalist who works for both “Dozhd” (“Rain”) television station and for "Ekho Moskvy", told Alexandr Plyushchev on live radio what they had seen with their own eyes during the fighting for Donetsk airport. Sergei Loiko was inside the airport and Timur Olevsky was outside.

As usual, the programme was fully transcribed and was put on the website on 30 October word for word as during the live emission.
But on 31 October, around midday, Roskomnadzor issued two separate warnings, one to the radio station and one to the website, because – I quote – “Information is contained in the given programme which justifies the practice of war crimes”. End of quote.

No concrete examples were given of this type of information.

Under threat of access to the whole website being closed, Roskomnadzor called for the text of the whole programme starting with the words “Good evening, this is Alexandr Plyushchev” and ending with the words “Goodbye, this was Alexandr Plyushchev” to be removed from the site as soon as possible (evidently, this is extremism too).

I decided to temporarily remove the text from the website – before a court ruling – especially because, thanks to Roskomnadzor's actions, the programme was being disseminated over the Internet at unprecedented speed.

Now let's look at the remaining issues.

1. The programme was broadcast live – the law about mass media explicitly absolves editors of responsibility for what guests say during live broadcasts (Article 57; Paragraph 5). We will make this appeal in court.

2. The wording of the Warnings is very vague, with no specific examples. The law about counteracting extremist activities explicitly asks government bodies to indicate specific breaches of the law – I repeat, specific breaches – when issuing such notices. We will also make this appeal in court.

Why did experienced people, such as those who head Roskomnadzor, act in violation of the laws that prescribe rules for the issuance of warnings?

Because they were ordered to.

In the same way, the prosecutors' office, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Moscow City Government department were similarly ordered to attack Ekho Moskvy this week.

I can imagine the level of co-ordination of the attack. Moreover, I can imagine who and how, and also in which office and at what address these discussions take place, and which of our colleagues take part in them.

I couldn’t really care less about all this.

We are not breaking the laws of Russia; we are doing our professional work, informing our listeners about everything, including about war crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine. In today's world they cannot be hidden, even by attempting to tape up our mouths.

The court is a public affair. Its proceedings will enable us to talk in more detail about what some people are trying to hide.


Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts