Bill banning disclosure of offenders' ethnicity and religion submitted to the Russian parliament

Moscow, Russia - A bill has been submitted to the State Duma that bans the media and computer networks from disclosing the ethnicity and religion of persons affected by crimes and of perpetrators.

The Moscow legislature submitted a bill to the lower chamber of the Russian parliament that proposes amendments to Article 4 of the media law, a spokesman for the State Duma's executive office told Interfax on Friday.

The authors of the bill suggest imposing "a ban on the distribution of information about the ethnicity, race and religion of people who suffered from crimes, offenders and suspected criminals through the mass media and computer networks."

An explanatory note to the bill says that such information frequently becomes public knowledge through media coverage of the activities of law enforcement services.

"In accordance with Article 26 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, only citizens have the right to reveal their ethnicity. No one can be forced to disclose his or her ethnicity," the note says.

Mentioning a person's ethnicity during media coverage of the activities of law enforcement agencies without sufficient grounds can be regarded as inaccurate information and a violation of citizens' constitutional rights, the authors of the bill said.

"Moreover, materials related to offenses and crimes systematically mentioning certain ethnicities can incite ethnic hatred and hostility," they said.