of June 15, 2010 No. 16
About practice of application by courts of the Law of the Russian Federation "About mass media"
According to article 29 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation everyone has the right to freely look for, receive, transfer, to make and distribute information by any legal method. Nobody can be forced to expression of the opinions and beliefs or refusal of them. The freedom of thought and words, freedom of mass information is guaranteed to everyone. Censorship is forbidden.
According to Item 1 of article 10 of the Convention on human rights protection and fundamental freedoms everyone has the right to freely express the opinion. This right includes freedom to hold the opinion and freedom to receive and distribute information and the ideas without any intervention from the public authorities and irrespective of frontiers.
Freedom of expression and beliefs, freedom of mass information constitute bases of development of modern society and the democratic state.
At the same time implementation of the called rights and freedoms can be integrated to certain restrictions which are provided by the law and are necessary in democratic society.
The constitution of the Russian Federation establishes prohibition on promotion and the propaganda initiating social, racial, national or religious hatred and hostility and also on promotion of social, racial, national, religious or language superiority (Article 29). The law of the Russian Federation "About mass media" establishes prohibition on abuse of freedom of mass information.
In case of application of the legislation regulating questions of freedom of expression and freedom of mass information, courts need to provide balance between the rights and freedoms guaranteed by article 29 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, on the one hand, and other rights and freedoms of man and citizen, and also values protected by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, with another.
For the purpose of ensuring the correct and uniform application of the legislation concerning freedom of mass information, and permission of the questions arising at courts in case of application of the Law of the Russian Federation "About mass media" the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, being guided by article 126 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, decides to make to courts the following explanations:
1. Legal regulation of the relations concerning freedom of expression and freedom of mass information is performed by the Federal Laws, including "About mass media", "About ensuring access to information on activities of state bodies and local government bodies", "About ensuring access to information on activity of the courts in the Russian Federation", "About guarantees of equality of parliamentary parties when publicizing their activities by the public public TV channels and radio channels", "About procedure for publicizing of activities of public authorities in the state media", "About advertizing", "About emergency state", "About warlike situation", "About counteraction to terrorism", "About counteraction of extremist activities", "About basic guarantees of the voting rights and the participation rights in referendum of citizens of the Russian Federation", "About referendum of the Russian Federation", "About election of the president of the Russian Federation", "About elections of deputies of the State Duma of Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation", and also other regulatory legal acts adopted in accordance with the established procedure.
2. To the international acts which regulate questions of freedom of expression and mass information and are obligatory for the Russian Federation owing to part 4 of article 15 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on human rights protection and fundamental freedoms, the Final act of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Convention of the Commonwealth of Independent States on the rights and fundamental freedoms of the person belong, in particular.
3. In case of permission of the cases connected with activities of mass media it is necessary to take into account that implementation of freedom of expression and freedom of mass information imposes special obligations, the separate liability and it can be integrated to the restrictions established by the law and necessary in democratic society for respect of the rights and reputation of other persons, protection of state security and public order, prevention of conflicts and crimes, health protection and morality, prevention of disclosure of information obtained confidentially, ensuring authority and impartiality of justice (Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Item 3 of Article 19 and article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Item 2 of article 10 of the Convention on human rights protection and fundamental freedoms, articles 29 and 55 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).
Provisions of part 3 of article 55 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation provide that rights and freedoms of man and citizen can be limited to the Federal Law only in that measure in what it is necessary for the purpose of protection of bases of the constitutional system, morality, health, the rights and legitimate interests of other persons, ensuring defense of the country and safety of the state.
Taking into account it by consideration of question of action of restrictions on persons who are engaged in production and distribution of mass information and also in case of the solution of question of involvement of such persons to responsibility courts should determine whether these restrictions with the Federal Law are set.
4. In case of application of the Law of the Russian Federation "About mass media" courts should take into account the changes in the legislation of the Russian Federation which happened from the moment of the introduction of this Law in force (on February 8, 1992), in particular recognition and guaranteeing in the Russian Federation of local self-government which provides the independent decision with the population of questions of local value and which bodies are not a part of the system of public authorities (Article 12, part 1 of article 130 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, article 1 of the Federal law "About the General Principles of the Organization of Legislative (Representative) and Executive Bodies of the Government of Subjects of the Russian Federation", article 1 of the Federal law "About the General Principles of the Organization of Local Self-government in the Russian Federation").
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