The heads of 23 Russian media outlets wrote an appeal to the head of Roskomnadzor, Andrei Lipov, with a request to clarify on what grounds administrative cases are initiated against them and fines are issued, because the hyperlink leads to a third-party website for which they cannot be held responsible. In November last year, the editors-in-chief of a number of media outlets, including the Dozhd TV channel , Novaya Gazeta, Forbes, the Ekho Moskvy radio station, already addressed the then head of Roskomnadzor, Alexander Zharov, with similar treatment.
The press secretary of Roskomnadzor Vadim Ampelonsky then replied that the position of his department here is not new: “We have voiced it publicly a thousand times and successfully defended it in courts. The editorial board of the mass media is responsible for all materials that are published in this media. We perfectly understand the nature Internet: there is a constant transition on the web on the hyperlinks. By publishing a link, you want to show the reader certain content. Accordingly, if you place a hyperlink, you are responsible for what the reader sees when clicking on it".
Among those who signed the current appeal are again the editor-in-chief of Dozhd Tikhon Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Forbes.ru Nikolai Mazurin and others. The appeal was also signed by the heads of major regional media - "Taiga.info", "TV2", "7x7" and others", - the Dozhd TV channel notes.
The appeal notes that the Russian media legislation does not prohibit the publication of hyperlinks to pages of third-party sites, where there may be obscene language, but the prevailing practice of fines for this forces journalists to engage in self-censorship and refuse to post some information, including socially important and makes them responsible for the actions of others. An example is a video from the scene of an emergency, where "behind the scenes" there may be emotional exclamations of eyewitnesses or victims, not always censored.
The authors of the letter also express dissatisfaction with the fact that by posting an obscene comment on a page of the site using a hyperlink, it is possible to "bring" under the administrative responsibility of the media that posted such a link at a time when there was no obscenity in the comments yet.
Over the past few years, Roskomnadzor has fined the Dozhd TV channel, the Echo Moskvy radio station, the Vedomosti newspaper, Novye Izvestia and other publications because of hyperlinks to pages with obscene language. Echo Moskvy applied because of this, to the European Court of Human Rights.
Let us recall that the law banning obscene language in the media was adopted in 2014. Its main author was the then chairman of the State Duma Committee on Culture, today the late deputy director Stanislav Govorukhin. The law prohibits the use of four swear words and their derivatives in the media, during the public performance of literary works and works of folk art, in theatrical performances, at concerts and other entertainment events, as well as in cinema.
The paradox of this draconian law is obvious when you consider that the share of registered media outlets facing fines from the RKN in the total Internet traffic is no more than a few percent. And social networks, instant messengers and video hosting services, including YouTube, do not experience any problems with the law on mat. There, the authors and commentators come off as soul and conscience allow.
So the petition to repeal the law could be signed by ALL editors-in-chief of ALL media outlets without exception.