Call for Help from Crimean TV Company Chornomorska
Management and journalists from one of the largest and most popular television companies in the Crimea, Chornomorska, are calling on Ukrainian and foreign journalists and human rights campaigners for help. As reported, the tax police have frozen Chornomorska’s assets, while the Control and Audit Department has now begun a check. Chornomorska warns that nearer the elections the TV company may stop broadcasting as has already happened under Kuchma.
Both bodies have simply frozen the assets, but are not returning to carry out a check.
The Head of the Crimean branch of the Batkivshchyna [Motherland] Party, National Deputy Andriy Senchenko, who is considered to be the owner of Chornomorska views this as pressure on the television company in order to exclude it from broadcasting during the local elections.
The Head of Chornomorska, Tetyana Krasikova says that the staff have called on international human rights organizations and the journalist community to support them at this difficult time. She stresses that what is happening to Chornomorska could at any time happen to other opposition channels or media outlets.
She says that while the company’s assets are frozen, they are losing advertisers, money, but are continuing to work. They fear, however, that the accounts of the channel could be frozen, and then it would stop broadcasting. This was what happened in 1998 when before the elections to the Verkhovna Rada and local councils, Chornomorska broadcasting was suspended for a week. Before the presidential elections in 1999, they were stopped for three months. There were similar attempts in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
The tax police refuse to comment.
Tetyana Krasikova states that the documents have been removed and assets frozen over a criminal case that is not connected to the TV channel, while the Control and Audit Department check is about payment by the social insurance for information services provided by the company in 2009.
According to the Crimean Centre for Journalist Investigations, Chornomorska is the largest non-State owned regional television and radio company, broadcasting 24 hours over the whole area of the Crimea and Sevastopol. Its founders are legal entities, however control, via affiliated structures, is in the hands of Andriy Senchenko.
On Wednesday in Simferopol the Security Service [SBU] carried out searches of several officers of BYuT [Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc] and Batkivshchyna. The SBU are also not commenting or explaining their actions. Local observers believe that the actions are aimed at enterprises owned by Senchenko and his political partners from BYuT. Suspension of their work will hit funding of the opposition in the Crimea on the eve of local elections, and will also have serious impact on the financial state of Chornomorska since these enterprises are its main advertisers.
Slightly abridged from the Ukrainian at: http://radiosvoboda.org/content/article/2126181.html