EYE-BALL Opinion on – FREE SPEECH – what value does it serve in a place like RUSSIA …

December 17, 2011
– what value does it serve in a place like RUSSIA  …
Free speech is the crowds cheer – the right to say what you want, when you want, and about anything your want.How does the right of ‘free speech’ gel with libel rules and the way Courts adjudicate on whether ‘free speech’ has caused personal injury or harm?

If you live in RUSSIA – the risk is that you will lose your life  if you speak out about matters that others feel sensitive about. Overnight news that another prominent Russian Journalist – [Gadzhimurat Kamalov] – was murdered – [read ABC story here] – makes the subject of ‘free speech’ a life and death threat as a career journalist in Russia.

Since the early 1990’s – Russian Journalists have been fair game to those who pickle up when the media expose some of the corruption elements at work.   Wikipedia have a page dedicated to ‘Murdered Russian Journalists’ – [linked here] – it gives a yearly breakdown list of murders and under whose Presidency they happened.  It gives debate to why they happened and how investigations and justice has been served.

An extract from the Wikipedia source page states:

The yearly figures in the table above are derived from the “journalists in Russia” database, where details can be found on each individual death. Certain important categories are not included. Those who have gone “missing” (14 persons); those who died in an incident (“not confirmed”, 28 persons), the nature of which has not been satisfactorily established; and journalists killed in work-related accidents (37 persons), may be found online in the IFJ database.

The third set of figures indicates the yearly number of verdicts reached in trials for the killing of journalists. With only three exceptions these have all been for homicide. Some cases have taken six to seven years to reach court, e.g. the killings of Dmitry Kholodov and Igor Domnikov, but most deaths that have resulted in prosecution take, on average, 12–24 months between the killing and the verdict.

Rates of conviction are a different matter. When the death was not related to the journalist’s work the conviction rate exceeds 90%. When the journalist’s death was certainly or seems likely to have been related to his or her work, the rate of acquittals rises sharply to around half of the total. Most trials are still held before a judge, aided by two lay assessors. Trial by judge and jury, still very rare in Russia, generally offers a more rigorous testing of evidence, robust defence of the suspects and a higher chance of the defendant being found not guilty (average acquittal rate of 20%). The Politkovskaya murder trial, which was held before a jury, ended in February 2009 with the acquittal of all those accused.

The number of murdered Journalist’s in Russia gives rise to accept that the Western World looks upon Russia as a third World type Administration. Yet this Nation gave rise to the ‘Cold War’ era, the crushing of the Nazi’s on the Western Front – and in the last two decades their economic recovery is as fantastic a rise as America’s is in falling.

Their reserves give them global clout and hey have to be regarded as a World Power again. Yet the way crime and ‘free speech’ go hand in hand gives pause to imagine what is really happening behind the scenes. What one can can do from afar is limited – what Leaders can do across debate and diplomacy channels appears to have no effect – influence in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and other minnow Dictatorships pales in significance to what others can do to cause a Russian cleanup of the ‘Russian Mafia‘ and their influence on Russian Politics. Anyone who tries from within appears to meet with sudden death – it is understandable why external influence is at a minimum.

This is a challenge for World Leadership – threat of death to speak up and fight for ‘free speech’ within Russia comes with danger. That intimidation had greater consequences than can be realised if ‘thuggery’ trumps the power of words and ‘free speech’.

Once again – contact your favourite Federal Representative and have your say on this matter – When was the last time Mr Rudd visited Russia as part of his ‘kaleidoscope of many colourful’ tours around the World. Please use the links below to find your Local Member and let them know how you feel about this.

Link to Previous EYE-BALL Posts.


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