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Interior Ministry orders cancellation of television programme

(CJES/IFEX) - The programme "Spravedlivost" (REN TV), which was hosted by State Duma Deputy Andrei Makarov, has been cancelled on orders from the Interior Ministry, according to information provided by the Novy Region news agency.

The debate on the transformation of the militia into police, as proposed by the Russian president, ended in an encroachment on the Russian Constitution, the "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper reported, saying that the actions taken by the Interior Ministry to close the programme contradict Article 29 of the Russian Constitution, which states: "1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech. 2. Propaganda or campaigning inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife is impermissible. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or language superiority is forbidden. 3. No one may be coerced into expressing one's views and convictions or into renouncing them. 4. Everyone shall have the right to seek, obtain, transfer, produce and disseminate information by any lawful means. The list of information constituting state secrets shall be established by federal law. 5. The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited."

Nothing new was said on the programme, which was to include witness accounts of the bad situation among the police, "Novaya Gazeta" reported. Among the people expected to appear on the programme were Henri Reznik (lawyer), Valery Borshchev (human rights activist), Mikhail Pashkin (leader of the Moscow police union), journalists Serge Buntman and Leonid Nikitsky, and other experts. The Interior Ministry refused to take part in the programme, citing personal dislike of the host, and was eventually represented by Vladimir Vasilyev, a State Duma deputy and former interior minister.

Not wanting to discuss its problems publicly, the Interior Ministry administration insisted that the programme be taken off the air, thus showing "the price of democratic debate" and "who really runs the country," journalist Leonid Nikitsky said in his article published by "Novaya Gazeta".

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