The law on fakes will be revised // The President vetoed the law on liability for quotations

Vladimir Putin vetoed the law on labeling messages about public events, in which, by the second reading, there was unexpectedly a provision on toughening the responsibility of journalists for citing inaccurate information. The law was approved by the Federal Assembly and made it impossible for the media to cite, for example, Telegram channels and forums, the publishers say. This is the third time in almost 20 years that Vladimir Putin vetoed a law passed.

President Vladimir Putin rejected the law of United Russia Sergei Boyarsky and Yevgeny Revenko on toughening the responsibility of the media for citing other publications, according to the State Duma website. The bill was adopted by the State Duma in the third reading on May 19 and approved by the Federation Council on June 2.

The president has questions about parts of the law, “where it comes to exemption from responsibility,” his press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The authors will finalize the project, Evgeny Revenko told Kommersant.

“This is a standard procedure. Obviously, some considerations have arisen with which we have to familiarize ourselves. And taking them into account, the bill will be finalized within the framework of the eighth convocation of the State Duma, ”he said.

According to the current legislation, journalists are not responsible for the dissemination of false information if it is a verbatim reproduction of materials from the media, which can be identified and brought to justice. The new law stipulated that journalists are not responsible for citing only those media in which “the editor-in-chief can be installed and held accountable.”

The media “often used” the opportunity to quote other media, “in order to invent something, refer to a non-existent media and thus confuse the trail,” explained Sergei Boyarsky on the radio “Moscow Says”. If it is impossible to establish the editor-in-chief, then the media does not exist, so the responsibility will be borne by the one who posted the information, “hiding behind, in fact, a fictitious quotation,” he pointed out.

The law contained serious risks for the industry, say media managers interviewed by Kommersant.

The wording of the draft provided for the responsibility of the editor-in-chief for any publication based on information from other media outlets, and its adoption in this form would sharply limit the ability of regional media to come to the attention of the federal media, Petr Kanaev, editor-in-chief of the united editorial office of RBC, told Kommersant.

“It is unrealistic to quickly check the reliability of the news flow and the presence of editor-in-chief of regional media,” he explained. In addition, the bill introduced the editor-in-chief’s responsibility for publications based on data from foreign media, Petr Kanaev recalled: “I could actually be made responsible for what the media write in Indonesia, Egypt, Malta, etc. This would guaranteed to narrow the agenda , has reduced the availability of information for our audience. “

On the one hand, the current agenda is “very thickly diluted with fakes” and “the logic of the authors of the project is clear,” on the other hand, the law actually deprived the media of the opportunity to quote Telegram channels, forums and other similar sources, emphasizes Vladimir Shushkin, chief editor of the AiF.ru website. “There is a lot of reliable information in the channels, even if they are anonymous. Even the largest media outlets cannot be everywhere, which means they lose to the same sources in efficiency, details, etc. That ultimately undermines the reader’s confidence in the media, because he gets more information elsewhere, ”he warns.

There was no provision for citing other sources in the first version of the bill by Messrs Boyarsky and Revenko, which was originally dedicated to labeling messages about mass events “in order to prevent unreasonable involvement of media editorial offices with administrative responsibility, to protect the rights of industry representatives and journalists”. The supplement appeared in the second reading and has nothing to do with the original text of the draft, says Maxim Stepanchuk, partner of the Delcredere Bar Association. An explanatory note is attached to the bill, which is not related to the proposed amendments to the law on mass media, says Alexey Panyushkin, a lawyer of the Regionservice Bar Association.

This is the third time since 2002 that Vladimir Putin has used his presidential veto. In 2012, the president did not sign the law on expanding the powers of the Skolkovo innovation center, as it did not define the criteria for evaluating the effectiveness. In 2016, after criticism from parental organizations, Vladimir Putin rejected the law on a unified student registration system.

In 2002, Vladimir Putin already vetoed a law that tightened the regulation of the media.

After the terrorist attack at the Theater Center on Dubrovka, the State Duma and the Federation Council adopted a law prohibiting the media from disseminating information that terrorists can use, in particular, details of the counter-terrorist operation and information about weapons manufacturing technologies. Mr Putin rejected the law following an appeal from Russian media executives. However, the ban on publishing information about the manufacture of weapons in the media was later included in the law, adopted in the third reading on June 16, 2021.

According to Art. 107 of the Constitution, if the president used his veto, the State Duma and the Federation Council are obliged to reconsider the law, and if, upon reconsideration, it is approved by 2/3 of the votes, the president will be obliged to sign this law, says Yuri Fedyukin, managing partner of Enterprise Legal Solutions. “But in the current paradigm, the likelihood that parliamentarians will go against the president and try to re-adopt the bill without making changes to it is small. There is even a possibility that they will not return to him at all, ”says the lawyer.

Valeria Lebedeva

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