Interview with Oleg Rozhnov

Oleg Rozhnov, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation commented for Russia Today on the latest Freedom House report on the freedom of expression.

 

Russia Today: First of all what significance does this report have? What evidence was it based on?

 

Oleg Rozhnov:  The opinion of any international or national organization is very important for us, but in this case I think the opinion is very biased. Being involved in social work already for ten years, I have to travel a lot around the world and I haven’t  found yet any deficit of information in Russia.  Our journalists feel quite free and different views are always available in the mass media. Moreover, there are plenty of Russian mass media, which cite foreigner journalists. Moreover the conference of the Public Chamber Committee on the media, which was held in March in Nalchik, revealed that in some regions local authorities have conflicts with journalists. But, as for the federal level,  I think Russia  hardly deserves the evaluation, it has been given.

 

RT: The Freedom House report puts Russia along with  countries like Afghanistan and Venezuela. There must be some evidence, or  some  information or criteria why this has happened?

 

O.R.: As for the mortality of journalists, Russia is not in the best position. It demonstrates a high level of crime in the country. But on the other hand,  journalists express their opinion and this could result in some criminal acts against them. If their articles suit the authorities nobody would threaten them. There is a lot of information which does not suit  the authorities or economic groups.

 

RT: If we take the former republics of the Soviet Union, which now are independent countries, excluding the Baltic States, only two named partly free, the others were named not free. Does that reflect the real situation, what do you think?

 

O.R.: I think it doesn’t reflect the real situation. The report is by Freedom House which is an American non-governmental  organization, and the report had been made with an American accent. I studied the world map which is divided into free, partly free and not free, and I doubt that all of those countries marked partly free have been examined according to all the criteria showing the level of freedom of expression, so I could tell that the report was quite superficial. Pavel Gusev, the head of our commission of the Public Chamber plans to conduct our own investigation and publish the  internal report because it impossible to evaluate the level of freedom of expression in Russia properly being far away from the country, and taking into account just one or two paramenters. I think it should demonstrate a more complex picture.

 

RT: So the Public Chamber wants to start their own research to access the situation, is that correct?

 

O.R.:  There are about  twenty committees in the Public Chamber, each of them responsible for a particular aspect of civil society.  The aim of the Committee on the Media is to present a real picture. The Nalchik conference saw  journalists  speaking quite frankly.  We have more than eighty federal regions, and I couldn’t say that each of them has the same level of  freedom of expression.  Of course there are regions with a lower level of freedom of expression, but  most regions enjoy it. Travelling a lot across the country I can tell that journalists feel quite free. Moreover, being a chief of a youth organization, I criticize the media for reporting a lot of negative information, with the positive somehow silenced. |