Goltsblat BLP wins a case on behalf of TV channel 2х2 against an accusation of extremism by the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office

31.08.2009

The Goltsblat BLP attorneys acting for the TV channel in this case consider it a major landmark in the recent pressure being brought on the mass media.

According to Rustam Kurmaev, Head of Litigation Group at Goltsblat BLP, who acted for the TV channel, “the contents of the cartoon film should be viewed within the context of its humorous and satirical nature, which the experts summoned by the court all emphasised”.

Let us recall that, in March 2008, The Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith filed a claim with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and Rossvyazkomnadzor (the authority for supervision of communications) for TV Channel 2х2 to have its licence revoked for indulging in extremist activities. The given dispute lasted throughout 2008 and only came to an end on 27 August 2009.

In the autumn of 2008, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office issued TV channel 2х2 a warning that broadcast of one episode of the cartoon film South Park was not admissible because, in the opinion of the Prosecutor’s Office, it instigated religious discord and denigrated the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims. At the same time, the Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit with a court for the given series of the cartoon to be recognised as extremist material.

The TV channel disputed the court’s order. In this litigation context, an expert examination was appointed, to be performed by the Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language. This examination established that the cartoon did not contain any signs of extremism. On the basis of this expert examination report, in December 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office withdrew its lawsuit, but the case challenging the warning continued.

Recently, on 2 June 2009, the Basmanniy Court in Moscow satisfied the TV channel’s suit and recognised the warning as unlawful, but the Prosecutor’s Office appealed to the cassation court against the ruling. On 27 August, however, the Moscow City Court threw out the appeal and upheld the court ruling.

Now, after 27 August 2009, this case may be considered as being finally over.

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