MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) – The State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, on Monday decided not to push ahead with the controversial bill banning foreign citizens from working for Russian state-run broadcast media.
The legislation, meant to prevent foreigners from “discrediting” Russia, seemed to be aimed at Russian TV personality Vladimir Pozner, who holds both Russian and US citizenship. The TV anchor came under fire last year after he publicly called the State Duma a “state fool” – the two expressions sound similar in Russian. Pozner apologized immediately, saying it was “a slip of the tongue.” He apologized again on Sunday, stressing that this was “the only thing” he apologized for.
“After the measures taken by the lawmakers, Vladimir Pozner was forced to make an apology. Taking this into account, we won’t push ahead with our bill, though it is already written and absolutely ready to be introduced,” said Mikhail Starshinov, a co-author of the bill.
“Pozner had to take back what he had said, but he wouldn’t do that without a clear and consistent reaction from the parliamentarians,” he added.
Media experts questioned by RIA Novosti called the situation “inconsistent” and “absurd.”
“It’s absurd that snap judgments by State Duma lawmakers lead to the drafting or adoption of bills. If lawmakers react to any offense by adopting bans, we will find ourselves in a country of the absurd,” said Pavel Gusev, the head of the Moskovsky Komsomolets publishing house.
Valery Fadeyev, the president of the Russian Media Union, lamented certain lawmakers’ “irresponsible behavior.”
“State officials’ decisions should never be based on their feelings of being insulted,” he added.
Vsevolod Bogdanov, the chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists, said the situation reminded him of “a joke” or a theatrical performance.