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Russian Commission Finds Germany's DW Broke Law With Protest Coverage


A Russian parliamentary commission says German state-funded broadcaster Deutsche Welle violated the law with its coverage of protests this summer, and that lawmakers will continue to investigate other media outlets, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, on similar possible legal breaches.

Vasily Piskarev, chairman of the Commission on Foreign Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs, said on September 27 that parliament will now ask the Foreign Ministry to consider revoking Deutsche Welle’s accreditation to operate in the country.

The case specifically noted that Deutsche Welle's Russian service wrote in a tweet on July 27 "Moscow Come Out!" which the commission said was an attempt to influence the internal affairs of Russia.

"While acting on the territory of Russia, Deutsche Welle has violated laws, many laws," Piskarev said.

"We decided that the designated bodies must provide a response to these violations," he added.

DW’s supervisory board rejected “any suggestion that DW interfered in the internal affairs” of Russia.

"After consulting with the director and making its own inquiries, the board has concluded that DW's reporting from Russia is irreproachable," it said in a statement, adding that it expects Russian authorities to let all its correspondents in Russia "report freely and without limitation."

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said the Russian government "is blatantly attacking our colleagues in the foreign media who are doing their jobs as professional journalists to report on events of public interest."

"The Russian people have every right to access independent sources of information about events in their country and the Duma’s actions threaten to further deprive them of those rights," he said.

Russian police have been criticized for impeding journalists trying to cover a series of major Moscow protests since late July, with some reporters being detained and equipment damaged.

A Deutsche Welle correspondent, Sergei Dik, was briefly detained while covering a Moscow protest in late July.

The protests were against the refusal by officials to register opposition and independent candidates for Moscow city-council elections that took place on September 8.

Police violently dispersed several of the protests and more than 2,000 people were detained, drawing international condemnation.

Piskarev said the parliamentary investigation would also look into whether coverage by Britain's BBC and the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had likewise breached Russian election law.

RFE/RL is funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) as a private grantee.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
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