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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New and old Russia.

Not inspired by Obama, but good news nevertheless from today's Moscow Times:
"The State Duma on Wednesday is to consider in a third and final reading a bill spelling out citizens' right to gain access to government documents and outlining punishments for officials who do not comply."
The legislation doesn't sound leading edge in some respects, but it's progress. Up to five years in the slammer for officials withholding information in some circumstances might sound extreme, but hard to argue with the example given of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, when Soviet authorities waited several days to release the news of the explosion at the nuclear power plant, exposing people to radiation.

All this would have sounded more encouraging if we hadn't heard out of Moscow the same day that a prominent human rights lawyer and a journalist were shot dead in the street after the lawyer held a news conference to protest early release of an army colonel convicted of killing a woman in Chechnya.

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