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Russian lawmakers ban TV station for unflattering coverage

March 6, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ Parliament voted Wednesday to ban Russia’s most-watched television channel from covering its sessions for a month because of unflattering coverage.

Lawmakers in the lower house voted 259-12 to strip accreditation from Russian Public Television journalists for ``systematically biased reporting on the activity of the State Duma and discrediting it.″

They said its coverage was so one-sided it had ``raised doubts among TV viewers as to whether the legislative branch of power should even exist in Russia.″

The lawmakers were especially angry after a report by Public Television, or ORT, on a Duma debate about restricting pornography. Lawmakers were shown quarreling over ways to advertise condoms.

The Duma’s move was sharply criticized by ORT and other TV stations.

``The deputies’ wish to look better than they in fact are is turning into information terrorism,″ said Arina Sharapova, who anchors ORT’s evening news program. Russian television stations regularly show raucous debates on the parliament floor.

Russian politicians often accuse journalists of biased coverage, and parliament has recently taken steps to set up its own television station.

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