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Open Letter to President of Russian Federation

Dear President Putin,
         On behalf of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), I wish to register my extreme concern at the recent developments in Moscow, which threaten the future of the Russian Union of Journalists, the largest independent non-governmental agency in the country.
         We strongly urge you to intervene to prevent the closure of the offices of the Russian Union in central Moscow. At first, the Union faced eviction due to unsubstantiated allegations of breaching fire regulations. Those claims have now been dropped, but it has learned of plans to transfer the office building to private ownership and in the process force the union out.
         When this latest threat to the union is considered alongside the fire safety allegations and the actions of the State Property Committee of Russia, which over the past year has been trying to deny the Union’s right of ownership of the premises, it is impossible not to conclude that there is a concerted effort to prevent the union from carrying out its work and by so doing deny the right of representation to Russia’s community of journalists.
         We believe that the independent voice of the Russian Union adds greatly to the prestige and image of Russia abroad; it strengthens and highlights the democratic capacity of the country; and it sends a message that Russia is truly committed to democratic development and engagement.

         This action against the union, although it is in the guise of petty bureaucratic manoeuvre, amounts to a serious challenge to independent and free journalism. The Hong Kong Journalists Association urges you to intervene to ensure that justice is delivered to the Russian Union that promises of ownership given by previous administrations are honoured and that your government and its agencies will respect the right of journalists to organise themselves independently.
                                                                                Yours Sincerely,
                                                                                                Fan Ho Tsai
                                                                                Hong Kong Journalists Association
05/03/2008 18:02   updated more
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