But critics say a mandatory ban on disclosing victims' race or ethnicity would infringe on media freedom and make it difficult for media to report on alleged hate crimes.
Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Russian Journalists Union, told Interfax that the proposed changes would prevent journalists from exposing racist attacks and thus play into the hands of those spreading ethnic discord.
Likewise, Pavel Gusev, editor in chief of the daily "Moskovsky komsomolets" called the legislation "a very dangerous bill."
Moscow Takes On Extremism
COMBATTING THE HATRED: RFE/RL's Russian Service on August 21 spoke with Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a member of the Public Chamber and a leader of the NGO Our Russia. (Read the complete interview in Russian). Kalandarov spoke about efforts the authorities are making to combat the wave of hate crimes sweeping Russia.
Kalandarov: Xenophobia today threatens the national interests of Russia. But I agree that the authorities are making good progress in this matter. First, the order on withdrawing Russian forces from Chechnya was recently signed. That is a big plus because the source of extremism, the sources of Caucasus-phobia are partly in Chechnya. Islamophobia grew dramatically after the first Chechen war. Next, the Public Chamber was created. We have a subcommission on nationalities issues and a subcommission that drafts projects related to xenophobia. This work is ongoing, which is why I think the authorities are really interested in making sure this problem does not go any further.
We should also mention the courts. I think that in many cases judges themselves hold [xenophobic] views. Second, we have not created normal conditions for protecting witnesses. People are not physically protected from various types of influence. Judges are afraid and witnesses are afraid. Because they have to keep living in that city. This defenselessness leads to cases not being pursued and to not-guilty verdicts being issued.
ARCHIVE To view an archive of all of RFE/RL's coverage of Russia, click here.
SUBSCRIBE For a regular review of civil-society developments throughout RFE/RL's broadcast region, subscribe to "RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies."
RFE/RL IN RUSSIAN: Visit RFE/RL's Russian-language website, featuring news, analysis, features, streaming audio, and more in Russian, courtesy of RFE/RL's Russian Service.