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Monday, October 30, 2006

Rakhmankov Convicted

The International Herald Tribune reports that only days after the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya blogger Vladimir Rakhmankov has been convicted of "insulting the president" and fined the equivalent of two and half months' average salary by an Ivanovo court (that's like fining an American journalist $10,000 after he watches Mike Wallace get assassinated -- how much more reporting do you think he'd do?). In the post that follows this one, we see more evidence of the Kremlin's crackdown on the Internet.

A media rights group on Friday denounced the conviction of a Russian journalist who has been fined for writing a satirical article about President Vladimir Putin, saying the court's decision underlined shrinking media freedom in Russia. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders condemned the conviction of Vladimir Rakhmankov as "utterly grotesque." Rakhmankov, editor of the online publication Kursiv in the city of Ivanovo, northeast of Moscow, was sentenced earlier this week to pay a 20,000-ruble (US$750, €600) fine by a court on charges of insulting the president in an article headlined, "Putin as Russia's phallic symbol."

"Prosecuting a journalist on a charge of insult because of a satirical article is a flagrant violation of free expression," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. "The situation of Russian journalists in the provinces is often very tough because of the high degree of concentration of authority," it added. Rakhmankov's article, published in May, poked fun at Putin's state-of-the-nation address, in which the president called for measures to boost the country's birth rate, which is dwindling. The publication suggested that animals at a local zoo eagerly heeded Putin's call, Russian media reported. Local prosecutors launched an investigation on their own initiative and without the Kremlin making any public statements about the case. Since taking office more than six years ago, Putin has presided over what critics say is a steady rollback in press freedoms won since the Soviet collapse. Top independent television stations have been shut down and print media have also experienced growing official pressure. The shrinking press freedom in Russia was spotlighted by the Oct. 7 killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who exposed killings, torture and other abuses against civilians in Chechnya. Politkovskaya's contract-style murder in her apartment building set off a chorus of protest from foreign governments and international organizations.


Penny said...

Rakhmankov should count his blessings that his failure to censor himself got a fine instead of a bullet. He's lucky.

Bush would be a multi-billionaire by now if he could impose fines on his critics.

Another outrageous assault on free speech in Russia, ugly rodents should be showing up soon to applaud Putin's fascism.

La Russophobe said...

Well said again! On the other hand, the sad thing is that things might soon get so bad that those who get the bullet are the ones who think they're lucky.

Penny said...

"There is no fascism in Russia"....exclaims the Russian rodent.


Put your vodka bottle down, sweetie, denial isn't a river in Egypt.