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Journalists to appeal new restrictions

  • 2008-12-17
  • By Adam Mullett
VILNIUS - Following a recent ban on journalists in the parliament, the Lithuanian Journalists Union (LJU) has signaled its intent to file a complaint regarding a potential breach of the constitution.
LJU president Dainius Radzevicius visited the Seimas accompanied by a bailiff to register the locations marked with special stickers banning filming or interviewing, along with the carrying of voice recorders and video and photo cameras.

"We have an article in our constitution that states clearly our rights. Valinskas and the other leaders of parliament just decided that he could change the rules," he said.
Parliamentary Speaker Arunas Valinskas's media spokesperson told The Baltic Times that he had no comment on the matter until the court case begins.

Valinskas introduced the idea to the Seimas after he felt affronted by being filmed "when chewing on a cutlet."
Valinskas said the privacy of Seimas members was important. Radzevicius replied by saying that Valinskas wants to transfer his previous television experience to politics.
"This isn't Valinskas's private apartment 's this is the Seimas, a public place. He was a producer of reality TV shows and maybe he doesn't understand what has happened in the last two months. He can't make this show how he wants," the LJU president said.

Radzevicius says the restrictions violate Article 25 of the constitution.
The constitution states that a "human being must not be hindered from seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas. Freedom to express convictions, to receive and impart information may not be limited otherwise than by law, if this is necessary to protect the health, honor and dignity, private life, and morals of a human being, or to defend the constitutional order."
"We cannot allow the administration to confine itself from the population and publicity, with key decisions made in restaurants and cafes or other locations where the public can be escaped," Radzevicius told the Baltic News Service.

The board of Lithuania's new parliament, which took its oath in mid-November, approved a list of premises where no video and photo cameras or voice recording equipment is allowed 's places where interviewing, filming and photographing is prohibited. The locations were also marked with special signs.
The premises include restaurants, smoking places and toilets.
Following the restrictions, the Seimas banned alcohol sales in the parliament grounds in a bid to dispel fears of an alcohol-fueled legislature.

Previously, Seimas members have been caught by media roaming the Seimas premises while visibly drunk.