Mikhail Serdyuk, a State Duma deputy from the party A Just Russia, has submitted a bill introducing immunity for journalists analogous to that guaranteed for parliamentarians.
"The concept of the bill amending the Russian law 'On the Mass Media' by introducing immunity for individuals engaged in professional journalistic activities is determined by the role played by the media, which are informally called the fourth branch, and their autonomy and independence in society and the state," an explanatory note to the bill says.
One of the government's universal duties is to guarantee people's right and freedom to receive truthful information, and members of the press should have legal guarantees against any unlawful incursions or actions on the part of government institutions or private individuals, the document says.
Public journalistic activities are more dangerous than a lot of other professions, which is evident from numerous tragic assaults on members of the press, it says.
The adoption of the bill would enable journalists to fearlessly confront government officials, private business organizations and other individuals, the note says.
As a rule, truthful information causes "inadequate reaction by individuals and organizations concerned, especially when the matter concerns corruption or other unlawful social phenomena," the document says.
"Therefore, guarantees of independent journalistic activities, that is, the introduction of journalistic immunity, is the state's constitutional duty and one of the primary goals of the ongoing socioeconomic reforms," the note says.
The bill proposed by Serdyuk stipulates that the opening of a criminal case against journalists or their administrative detention or holding them administratively liable would be possible only if sanctioned by a district or city prosecutor.
It is presumed that such immunity should protect members of the press from unlawful physical or moral pressure and infliction of damage on their person or property by law enforcement agencies or other officials and individuals if this is connected with their professional duties.
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