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Russia: Upper House Approves Restrictive Law On Campaign Coverage

Moscow, 25 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, today approved a law making it easier for authorities to shut down media outlets accused of biased political-campaign coverage. The draft must still be signed by President Vladimir Putin, who originally presented it to parliament.

The measure allows newspapers or television channels to be shut down after two instances of "electoral propaganda" -- favoring one candidate, policy, or position over another. Closures would be recommended by a central or regional election commission, and would require court approval.

The chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation, Yurii Sharandin, said the law will not affect the freedom of the media. But media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the law is vague and could drastically limit press coverage during election campaigns.