The Federation Council approved the law adopted by the State Duma on the closure of mass media out of court. According to it, the Attorney General and his deputies will have the right to suspend licenses and revoke licenses.
The bill, which was submitted for consideration in the first reading, spoke simply about the closure of the media. By the third reading, the wording was softened.
For the dissemination of illegal or unreliable publicly significant information, or information expressing clear disrespect for society, the state, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, related to the introduction by foreign states of political, economic and other sanctions against Russia, its citizens or legal entities - media activities can be suspended for up to three months.
For the second violation - up to six months.
In the case of repeated dissemination of prohibited information, the registration of the media will be invalidated, and the website will be blocked.
Novye Izvestiya has already written that the draft law on the out-of-court closure of media outlets contradicts the Federal Law on Mass Media and the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
For example, Article 15 of the Mass Media Law defines:
"The registration of a mass media outlet may be invalidated exclusively by a court in the course of administrative proceedings."
The new law introduces the following amendment:
"In Article 15: in the first paragraph of part one, the word "exclusively" shall be deleted".
So, now not only the court.
Deputies of the State Duma amend the Mass Media Law with Article 56.2 as follows:
“Suspension of the activities of a mass media outlet, invalidation of the registration of a mass media outlet or termination of a broadcasting license on the basis of a request by the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation or his deputies”.
Thus, the contradiction seems to be eliminated. The prosecutor's office, along with the court, is introduced into the law, allowing the closure of the media.
But… not really. And not even quite. Breaking the law is a crime. And the culprit must be punished. For example, if an individual citizen or organization believes that the media have slandered them, placed inaccurate information, they file an application, a claim for the protection of honor and dignity. Thus, the media falls into the category of those suspected of violating the law, suspected of committing a crime. But - only "suspects".
Because Article 8 of the Code of Criminal Procedure clearly defines:
“No one can be found guilty of a crime <…> except by a court verdict”
Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation states:
"Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with federal procedures and established by an enforceable verdict".
And who will now determine the guilt of the media? Prosecutor General's Office? It is not an executive, legislative or judicial power. Then - what? It turns out that a body with an indefinite state status will find guilty and close the media? That is, it will be endowed with the powers of the court?
However, no one can be vested with the powers of the court.
This is what the Federal Constitutional Law “On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation” says, article 1:
“Judicial power in the Russian Federation is exercised only by the courts <…> No other bodies and persons have the right to assume the administration of justice”.
We note in particular: the legal force of a federal constitutional law is higher than the legal force of an ordinary federal law. "Federal laws cannot conflict with federal constitutional laws." This norm, enshrined in Part 3 of Art. 76 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
And, finally, paragraph 1 of Article 118 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation:
"Justice in the Russian Federation is carried out only by the court".
This means that in order for the new law adopted by the State Duma and approved by the Federation Council to have legal grounds, Article 1 of the Federal Constitutional Law “On the Judicial System of the Russian Federation” and paragraph 1 of Article 118 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation must be repealed.