§ Lord Kennet
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Who from the United Kingdom is to observe the elections due to take place in Russia next month, and whether these people will be advised to examine President Yeltsin's recent decrees closing down newspapers and television programmes, changing ownership, management, and editors in the media, and establishing a censorship "watchdog" within the Ministry of the Interior.
§ Baroness Chalker of Wallasey
The UK will be sending a team of up to 20 observers to the Russian elections. They will include a number of Parliamentarians as well as representatives of nongovernmental organisations. Other countries and international bodies will also be sending observers. They will be free to look at all aspects of the elections, including media coverage and access to the media.
Restrictions on the press imposed temporarily during the civil disturbances earlier this month have nearly all been lifted. Only a very small number of extremist papers which incited violence remain suspended. All other press is free. President Yeltsin has set up an Information Arbitration Tribunal to ensure free and fair access to the media by all political parties campaigning in the elections.