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Editor-in-chief of newspaper convicted of slander, given suspended sentence; CJES calls for decriminalisation of defamation

(CJES/IFEX) - Stanislav Glukhov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Khabarovsky Express", has been convicted of slander (a crime under Article 129 of the Russian Criminal Code), for disseminating false information and defaming Dmitry Rozenkov, a member of the local parliament.

The court found that Glukhov knowingly allowed the publication of false information on Rozenkov in the April 11-18, 2007 edition of "Khabarovsky Express" while being editor-in-chief of the paper, who has the status of a professional journalist under Article 52 of the Russian Law On the Mass Media and is required by Article 49 of the Law On the Mass Media to verify information stated in publications.

The court found the journalist guilty of slander and gave him a suspended sentence of one year in prison with one year probation. The sentence has not yet entered into legal force.

S. Glukhov intends to file an appeal because he is convinced that that responsibility for information stated in publications is borne by their authors, not by editors who publish articles in newspapers. The author of the article has not been determined. The paper's editorial board alleges that the journalist has been framed.

Under the current legislation and legal practice, responsibility for the publication of information is borne by the author. If the author cannot be determined, responsibility rests with the editor as the person controlling the information flow and creating conditions for the dissemination of information.

CJES is calling on the authorities to change the criminal legislation by decriminalizing defamation and passing new, civil legislation on it.

CJES believes this case needs to be changed from a criminal into a civil case. Civil liability envisages measures such as the publication of a refutation and/or the payment of moral damages as more reasonable and appropriate punishment for journalists.

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