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Russian Parliament to ban media coverage of acts of terrorism

The State Duma is discussing the bill offering to toughen the regulations for reporters covering acts of terrorism.
The bill offers to ban any information on terrorist acts from reporting, except for the information given by law-enforcers.

Deputy, member of the Duma Committee on Security Alexander Gurov opposes the new restrictions. According to Mr. Gurov, the existing laws “On Mass Media” and “On Fighting Terrorism” have already stipulated all the necessary regulations for reporters.

Both opponent of the bill Alexander Gurov and bill’s author Mikhail Yurevich are the members of the same political party – “United Russia”.

Duma’s Committees on Security and on Media Policy recommended to decline the bill.

According to the first deputy chairman of Duma Committee on Security Mikhail Grishankov, it is the center conducting the anti-terrorist operation who should decide what reporters can cover.

Expert on the legislation on mass media lawyer Fedor Kravtchenko could not name the country where law forbids broadcasting victims of terrorist acts. “Journalistic organizations are supposed to develop regulations on this”, Mr. Kravchenko said.

Chief editor of Moscow Bureau of BBC Russian Service Konstantin Eggert said that when covering terrorist acts and catastrophes, ВBC is guided primarily by its own regulations for reporters’ conduct. The regulations forbid to flavor the details of terrorist attacks, accidents and catastrophes. The camera does not zoom in the naturalistic details, but if some images are of importance for the society, the TV anchor must war that sensitive people and children can be traumatized by the images.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Georgy Boos believes that the journalistic regulations are not going to work in Russia, and the law should be adopted to make reporters abide the regulations. At the same time, Mr. Boos is concerned that “there is a danger to come back to the atmosphere of the former USSR when the public learned about  Semipalatinsk tragedy only 70 years later”.

None of Russian law-makers asked psychologists for consultation in what way the TV reports on terrorism should be broadcast to minimize traumatizing people. According to the Head of Department of Psychology Analysis of Russian Academy of Science Mikhail Romashevich, “the images should not provoke sadistic instincts in TV viewers. In addition, frequent broadcasting the scenes of atrocities diminish compassion to their victims”.

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