Tuesday, July 27, 2021

FSB Plan to Restrict Coverage of Russian Military Criticized by Journalists as Dangerously Broad

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 20 – The FSB has proposed a regulation that will prevent journalists from covering anything about the Russian military that the authorities consider threatening to the country’s national security (regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=118168). The kinds of information journalists are banned from covering are so broad that almost any news could be blocked.

            Not surprisingly, journalists and other experts are condemning the measure as overly broad and arguing that the measure must at a minimum be reworked so that journalists can do their job without fear of being charged (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/gde-konchaetsya-sensaciya-i-gde-nachinaetsya-izmena-rodine-voenkory-o-proekte-fsb-zapreshchayushchem-peredachu-svedeniy-ob-armii).

            Among the topics that the FSB rule would block would be discussions of dedovshchina and other conflicts among soldiers, attitudes of soldiers about various programs and policies, personal data about soldiers and officers and any information concerning Roskosmos, the Russian space agency.

            Among those speaking out against the measure and demanding that it be made more specific or rejected altogether are Russian military correspondent Aleksandr Kots, independent security analyst Pavel Felgengauer, Fyodor Kravchenko of the Collegium of Media Lawyers, and journalists Viktor Litovkin and Dmitry Steshin.

            They object not only to the indefiniteness of the categories of news not to be covered but also to the fact that the defense ministry and presumably the FSB is given the right to make decisions on what should be covered and what not. Those protesting say that journalists must behave responsibly but that they and not the powers must be allowed to make these decisions.

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