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9 Dec, 2009 10:22

Journalists talk their differences and search for dialogue

A major forum of European and Asian media has started in Moscow. The annual event is organized by RIA Novosti news agency, which has brought it to the Russian capital for the first time.

The gathering joins around 150 top media managers from the former Soviet and Baltic states.

“There is a long-felt need for open and professional dialogue,” RIA Novosti Editor-in-Chief Svetlana Mironyuk said ahead of the conference.

The forum’s moderator, deputy chief of Rossiya TV channel Sergey Brilev agrees:

“Despite having been brothers, we are not just different mentally and politically now, we are different professionally,” he told RT. “It is of paramount importance to actually start exchanging things. We haven’t been exchanging our news agenda in the past several years.”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also addressed the gathering.

President Medvedev arrived at midday. After delivering a short welcoming speech, he then answered a series of questions from foreign journalists.

“Modern, up-to-date media, staffed with qualified personnel are, in my opinion, the main characteristic of an independent and strong state. I am absolutely sure of that,” Dmitry Medvedev said.

Questions came from the representatives of the former Soviet states, namely Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Moldova, as well as Israel.

The forum has also provided common ground for Russian-speaking people, former member of the European parliament and journalist Guilietto Chiesa told RT.

“The question is very important not only because it is a great heritage from the Soviet times, but it is also a reality. The Russian language is a common language for millions of people not only in Russia, but outside also,” Chiesa observed.

The issue of journalists being killed in Russia hasn’t been raised at the Media Forum, but the situation is alarming, Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists, told RT.

Over 1,000 journalists have been killed all over the world, the Federation has estimated. That means two journalists die every week.

The death toll of people involved in media in Russia is grim, Boumelha said.

“There is a huge crisis of impunity,” he said. “Only a small fraction of the killers are ever brought to justice and I would have thought that with these kinds of facts it would be a very hot issue being discussed by the media leaders.”