Target: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Don’t block free speech by criminalizing government criticism.
The Russian Parliament has passed legislation that will recriminalize libel, effectively stifling media outlets that speak against the government and its officials. This new legislature is a huge step backwards for free speech, setting the stage for a reversion back into Russian authoritarianism. Russian President Vladimir Putin must not sign off on this backwards law.
It wasn’t long ago that former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was internationally applauded for changing libel from a criminal offense to an administrative offense. This movement seemed to herald in a new era of free speech for the Russian Federation. Now the Russian Parliament seeks to undo this important progress by subjecting libelous public statements to fines of up to 2 million rubles (just over US$16,000). This harsh penalty will effectively stifle criticism of government officials, allowing corruption to run rampant once again without any public outlets for complaint.
The Russian Federation must encourage freedom of speech and government accountability by rejecting this regressive legislation. By signing the petition below, you can ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to protect the rights of his citizens by refusing to sign the new libel law.
Dear President Putin,
The new libel law recently passed by Parliament is a huge step backwards for human rights in the Russian Federation. It wasn’t long ago that your country was internationally celebrated for mollifying such laws, reducing libel from a criminal offense to an administrative offense. The new law will dissolve this progress and stifle free speech for your citizens. The harsh penalties encourage self-censorship and discourage valid complaints against wrongdoing of government officials. Overall, this is a regression backwards towards old Russian authoritarianism.
You once stated that freedom of speech was one of the ‘basic elements of a civilized society’. You must remember and honor these words by protecting the Russian people from repressive legislation. Please don’t sign the new law that will criminalize libel in your country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: guerretto via Flickr.