Imagine: a person was accused of a terrible crime, to which he had nothing to do. And so he served his prison term and came to the newspaper office to tell the truth. Or the offender repented and decided to tell the world about his terrible experience in order to warn others. Or the convict was bullied behind bars, he was released and told reporters about this horror. So, all this will be impossible if the State Duma adopts the bill prepared by the deputy Dmitry Sablin (ER).
The initiative of Mr. Sablin is that the court could prohibit murderers, terrorists, maniacs and, in general, any characters from giving interviews, and the media from communicating with them. The initiative is harmful and even dangerous, clearly invented by people who are far from understanding the tasks of journalism and the meaning of the profession itself. In fact, it is proposed to introduce an additional type of punishment, which is based on “torture by silence”. And who said that it would be a seal on the mouth of evil, and not on the word of truth ?!
“Any crime evokes lively emotions in people, especially the media actively use this property, showing criminal programs, conducting talk shows with the participation of criminals, etc.” – this is how the explanatory note to the bill begins. Actually, you can’t argue.
And then it is also correct: “The display of crime in the media and in social networks, according to scientists, psychologists, sociologists and doctors, has a detrimental effect on a person, destroys his moral foundations, and affects the genesis of criminal behavior.” Why is a bill needed to declare these obvious things? Is it not enough for the deputies to communicate with the leadership of the federal channels, which determine the “agenda”?
“In modern realities, as a result of their crime, criminals can reasonably count on fame and, with the assistance of the media and the Internet, popularity … on TV studios, talking about yourself, and getting paid for it. This is not only immoral, but can also entail negative consequences. ” And further – proposals to prohibit all this.
The initiative was inspired by the documentary film by Ksenia Sobchak about the Skopin maniac Viktor Mokhov, where he imposingly talks about his “exploits” and even threatens the victims between the lines. We recently examined this work of Sobchak in the press complaints panel. We discussed for many hours, made conclusions about ethical mistakes, about the need to develop standards for interviews with maniacs (up to timing). By the way, they noted that Sobchak managed to show the ordinariness of the crime: Mokhov does not inspire fear and horror, and looking at him, society can realize that in fact maniacs can hide among us. It was worth, of course, in a different way to place accents in the film. In general, most experts were inclined to believe that Sobchak made the film not for the sake of public interest, but for the sake of hype.
Yes, the film Sobchak caused a lot of indignation, but is this a reason for all media to prohibit interviewing such characters? Of course not. The issue of submitting material should be raised and resolved at the level of the professional community (which is being done), and not regulated by the state.
In addition, interviews with maniacs and serial killers are necessary in order to understand who they are and what their motives are. Where we missed and allowed them to become who they are, to show the level of civilization and humanism of the state, which gives them a chance and does not take their lives. Society has the right to know and draw conclusions. How many wonderful documentaries have been filmed about criminals, how many interviews have been written with them, which are presented in such a way that their “heroes” definitely do not want to imitate. This is the true mission of journalism in the service of society.
Unfortunately, the author of the bill, Mr. Sablin, did not take this into account. This is understandable: Dmitry Vadimovich is not a journalist, he never was, the problems and tasks of the media are unknown to him. But maybe it is worth listening to the opinion of professionals before coming out with such an ambiguous initiative to parliament?
Surprisingly, the bill proposes to prohibit former criminals from even maintaining accounts on social networks and generally using the Internet, which is a clear violation of human rights! And how are they going to track it?
Well, and most importantly – from what will it save and whom? The fan club of Viktor Mokhov is not connected with his interview, the fan club of the “Kazan Strelka” arose in TikTok with the filing of a Ukrainian psychic and “god of hype”. The bill is completely useless for these cases; it cannot stop them in any way. But he stops the mouths of those who have become the victim of a monstrous mistake (or falsification). So anyone can be imprisoned on the most terrible charges, and society will not know the truth.
Comments of the Chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia Vladimir Solovyov: “Initially, when Ksenia Sobchak’s interview with the Skopinsky maniac came out, where he openly mocks the victims, relishes the details of the crime, there were many discussions. I remembered about the American “law of the son of Sam”. The story is this: a maniac who killed people in New York was released and began to give interviews, and his memories eventually resulted in a whole book. When the authorities realized it, they demanded to destroy the entire print run, to confiscate the royalties and give them to the families of the victims. And the United States passed a law prohibiting criminals from profiting from publicizing their crimes, most often by selling memories.
I advised our legislators to take a closer look at this law. But we were talking exclusively about maniacs and serial killers, whose crimes are beyond good and evil. It is possible and even necessary to do interviews with them, but those where it would be shown how they suffer from punishment, dream of the death penalty. And they definitely shouldn’t get any income from such interviews.
Recently, the State Duma sent us a bill that is clearly different from what we talked about. We are preparing an expert opinion on it. But it is already obvious that he prohibits giving interviews to virtually all former criminals in general and even introduces a ban on their social networks, which is a violation of human rights. I hope we still have time to fight to ensure that the draft law is not adopted in the form that it is now ”.