WAN-IFRA and the World Editors Forum have condemned proposed legislation in Russia that "would effectively reintroduce Soviet-style censorship", and have called on President Dmitry Medvedev to reject it.
In a letter to President Medvedev, WAN-IFRA and WEF, the global associations of the world's press, warned that the proposed law would allow journalists to be jailed simply for carrying out legitimate professional activities.
"The proposed legislation is the latest in a series of measures restricting independent journalism and follow amendments made to the law on extremism in 2006 and 2007 which broadened the definition of extremism to include criticism of officials," the letter said.
The proposal, which was presented to the country's lower parliament, the State Duma, on 24 April, would give the Federal Security Service powers of censorship over articles deemed to "aid extremists" or "appear undesirable", and calls for fines and imprisonment for journalists and editors who do not comply. Documentation blaming "certain media outlets" for the rise of extremist activities in Russia has accompanied the legislation on its route into parliament.
WAN-IFRA argued that the proposed legislation violated the right to freedom of expression and numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The full letter can be read here.