Russia occupied the 142nd place in the rating of freedom of press published on Wednesday, January, 25th by organization “Reporters without borders”. In comparison with previous rating, published in 2010, Russia lost two positions.
Among positive moments “Reporters without borders” mark toughening of punishments for attacks on journalists and also cancellation of criminal punishment for insult and slander in Russia. However, they underline, it’ not clear yet how these changes will affect situation with freedom of press in the Russian Federation.
Finland remains the leader in rating of freedom of press throughout already several years. Norway got the second place having become one position higher. Estonia for a year moved from the ninth to the third place. The first five of the rating includes also the Netherlands which reserved the fourth place and Austria which a year before was on the seventh place.
Among countries which most strongly worsened their positions in rating are Belarus and Azerbaijan. Belarus appeared 14 lines lower — it changed its place from the 154th to the 168th place and Azerbaijan occupying in last year's rating the 152nd place now occupied only the 162nd one.
Iran, Syria, Turkmenistan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Eritrea occupying 175–179 places accordingly close rating of freedom of press.
From editorial board: Today nobody needs explanation about direct connection between freedom of press and level of freedom in a society as a whole. If your right on free word and easy access to information is essentially limited, you can hardly rely on fair elections. There are no fair elections in the country where level of freedom of speech is accurately between Gambia and Colombia.
Meanwhile press in Russia, if to believe the Constitution and the law on mass-media, is completely free. It’s if to believe them. But after all if to trust laws, elections in our country are also fair.
"Reporters without borders" even overestimated rating of the Russian Federation as they noticed "toughening of punishments for attacks on journalists". But again - toughening of punishment is registered in the law, while absence of any punishment under this law is reality.
I don’t need to go far to bring you example. Many citizens including journalists, also quite known, and me were detained and beaten in December, 6th last year on Triumphalnaya Square. That shocking fact was noted not only by press – as well as foreign one – it also found reflection in documents of the international organizations, such as OSCE.
According to OSCE, in the period from December, 5 to December, 7th police detained about 20 journalists giving coverage to demonstrations after parliamentary elections in Moscwo and Peterburg, agency "Interfax" marks. The majority of workers of mass-media were released very soon. At least two of them - editor of web site Forbes.ru Alexey Kamensky and editor-in-chief of web site "FORUM.msk" Anatoly Baranov - were accused in disobedience to requirements of policemen.
And what of it?
To begin with I had to stay for the whole night in the police department of "Khamovniki" instead of being offered apologies after it became known that I am a journalist and I have according to article 47 of the law about mass-media full right as journalist to visit places of acts of nature, mass riots and people congestions. Despite the requirement of lawyer Alexander Gusak who arrived to the department, the deputy of the State Duma Ilya Ponomarev and representatives of public. That is it is impossible to think that policemen didn't understand that they broke the law – they were explained in details.
I don't say that no criminal cases or even office checks were brought in relation to beating of a number of citizens part of whom were even taken away directly from the department by "Ambulance".
Moreover, despite detailed description of circumstances of the matter, next day the world judge of Tverskoj court Komlev passed fantastic judgment in which he in general ignored the fact of beatings which by then was already known to mass-media, besides he decided that the law about mass media, article 47 had no connection personally to A.Baranov. Why? Ask judge Komlev - he decided that I should have with me some "safety card" which is provided in some memorandum signed by the Union of journalists of Moscow with the Municipal Department of Internal Affairs - and it’s stated in the first article of this Memorandum: "Absence" of “safety card” can't be an obstacle for realization of the professional work on coverage of public action by the journalist".
Let's note, all this was in details described (you can find a link after the article), but it didn’t cause any interest of either Office of Public Prosecutor or judicial board, it didn’t cause even minimum office check. The judge Komlev continues passing judgment right and left.
After that, if you ask me, what I think about the 142nd place of Russia in rating of freedom of press, I will answer that I think that "Reporters without borders" were given bribes, that they overestimated rating for the Russian Federation.
Anatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of FORUM.msk