Russian Constitutional Court confirms journalists' right to freedom of expression during election campaign

The Russian Federation Constitutional Court confirmed journalists' right to freedom of expression during the election campaign.

"The positive or negative opinion of some candidates is not part of an election campaign and can't be a ground for bringing media representatives to administrative account," says the court ruling voiced by RF Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin on Thursday.

In the court's opinion, "journalists' opinion and their comments" or "expression of preference for this or that candidate" are not part of an election campaign either, just like distributing information unrelated to the candidate's current professional activity, says the CC ruling on the case that was brought up on the initiative of a number of journalists and on the request by a group of State Duma deputies.

Thus, the RF Constitutional Court ruled that a provision of a subclause of clause 2, article 48 of the federal law "On the Main Guarantees of Franchise and the Right of Russian Federation Citizens to Participate in Referendums" was unconstitutional and infringed upon the freedom of mass media.

In the court's opinion, this provision "allows broad interpretation of the very notion and types of banned election campaigns, and thus does not rule out optional use of this norm." The RF Constitutional Court gave a clear definition of an election campaign and limited to the minimum the scope of information that can be regarded as part of it.

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