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27 May, 2008 06:07

Constitutional Court backs journalist at first sitting

Russia’s Constitutional Court has upheld an appeal by journalist Manana Aslamazyan, who was charged with smuggling foreign currency into the country in 2007. The ruling came during the court’s first session since relocating from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Aslamazyan claims she was prosecuted because Russia's laws aren't specific enough in this area. She said in her case it was only an administrative offence.

The journalist tried to re-enter the country with 10,000 euros without declaring it, exceeding the allowed limit.

Manana Aslamazyan headed the Educated Media Foundation (formerly Internews), a Russian non-governmental agency focused on journalist training.  Her prosecution resulted in her company's assets being frozen.

The EMF has been a leading source of professional training and support for Russian media for many years. The case against Aslamazyan prompted more than 2,000 Russian journalists to send an open letter of protest to the president. The journalists claimed the proceedings against Aslamazyan were launched to deter foreign-funded NGOs from meddling in Russian politics.

The move to transfer the court to St. Petersburg took place in accordance with a presidential decree signed last December.

The Constitutional Court is located in the historical building of the Senate on the Dekabristov Square in St. Petersburg.