New Federal Press Agency to uphold Russian mass media's right to cover terrorist acts

The Federal Press and Mass Media Agency, which was recently established in Russia within the reform of the government, intends to uphold the right of mass media to cover terrorist acts on their own, head of the new agency Mikhail Seslavinsky said.

A draft law ordering mass media to cover terrorist acts only on the basis of the law-enforcement bodies' official information was worked out in the Russian State Duma.

But "it is impossible to imagine" mass media keeping silent about such serious developments before the law-enforcement bodies make their comments, Mr. Seslavinsky stated at the meeting with representatives of art, culture and mass media on Monday.

According to him, his opinion of the draft law worked out in the State Duma will be the first document he will sign as the head of the agency.

This document was initiated by the developments in Moscow in October 2002, when the Chechen terrorists took about 800 people - spectators and actors of the popular Nord-Ost musical, hostage in the Theatre Centre in the Dubrovka Street.e THe FEderal The The The The More than 100 of them perished during their freeing. The Russian secret services claim that the journalists, who were covering the terrorist act and the preparation of the operation to free the hostages in detail unintentionally helped the terrorists. Furthermore, the authors of the draft law deem it immoral to show the sufferings of terrorist acts' victims on TV screens. But the Russian journalists themselves assessed this initiative as a ban on their professional activity.

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