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07.04.04á10:25

TO LAY THE BLAME ON ...
Russian state TV channel advertises ... a criminal wanted by Russian General Prosecutor's office

A grey-headed man with a massive spectacle on a rather swollen face owing to unknown to us reasons, looking with scare at a standing near camera and unseen to viewers "conductor", bumbling and visibly nervous, was telling a story, akin to a street gossip, about the Moscow's Domodedovo airport alleged involvement in drug trafficking with the help of Russian and Turkmen state officials.

As long as the story of a "denouncer" looked like a drivel of the insane who was promised a dose of narcotics by visiting TV reporters for certain "discredit" on camera, we will not waist time analyzing his puzzle-headed statements, supported by no single fact, blaming officers of the Russian and Turkmen state structures in committing a heavy crime, namely in the establishment of aviation drug trafficking between Ashgabat and Moscow. Let us think about what should be the reaction of law enforcing agencies to such TV broadcasts.

At the first sight it is not journalists' business to make advises to prosecutors, but as long as the state channel, Rossia, aired such serious accusations the General Prosecutor's office must set up an inquiry commission to investigate facts produced in a TV program called "Special correspondent". And if this man's version is confirmed then violators of law must be punished. And if it turns to be false then under the law the same man, whose name is well known not only to Turkmen citizens but to... the workers of the Russian General Prosecutor's office themselves, should be called to account for slander. The thing is that the author of TV sensation - the former chief of state logistics of Turkmenistan and later an Ambassador to Turkey, Nurmukhammed Khanamov, - no later than a year before last year was put on a federal and international wanted list. And the authorities of the Russian General Prosecutor's office signed this document.

Such serious decisions are taken, as a rule, only after close examination of documents sent to Moscow. By that time Khanamov was charged with state embezzlement, bribery and drug trafficking, and the arguments of Turkmen prosecutors had apparently due effect on their Russian colleagues. Khanamov was put on the wanted list. Later, there appeared stronger reasons for him to be arrested. He was sentenced to life-imprisonment by the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan for "taking part in the plot to forcefully seize power and change the Constitutional system of Turkmenistan by attempting on the life of the Turkmen president and carrying out acts of terror."

Nevertheless, it happened many times in Russia that detectives ran off their legs to apprehend a criminal while at the same time he was safely interviewed by Russian journalists. And a law on mass media gives the latter the right to avoid molestful questions of investigators. They argue that, firstly, it is not necessary for them to know whether a person is wanted or not. And, secondly, they say that they have the right to keep sources of information and their location secret.

Everything seems to be fine, according to law and very democratic. With all respect to the experience and professionalism of the author of the TV program, Mr. Mamontov, I am really curious what made it impossible for him to produce in his investigation the opinion of those who are accused in organizing a criminal group. Why neither representatives of the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow nor the authority of the Domodedovo airport had a chance to reply to such serious accusations made by a runaway Turkmen ex-official? Or they did not want to answer so painful for them questions? In this case viewers had to be informed of that. Were there any other reasons? If so, viewers also have the right to know them. Otherwise, it was a one sided approach that looked like a certain order - "to press" Turkmenistan. By what means - it did not matter. To "press" was the main point. Fulfilling this task, they not only forgot about basis ethic of journalists but also about viewers that in their majority do wish to know a really objective picture and a contrast of different points of view on this or that problem.

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Igor SOLOVYEV

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