Chornomorska – now they’ve seized the channel’s accounts
The tax police, with an order from the Zaliznychny District Court in Simferopol, have seized the bank accounts of the television and radio company Chornomorska, one of the most popular TV channels in the Crimea, which is called the main media resource of the Crimean opposition.
As reported here, the tax police after several checks recently arrested the property of Chornomorska, effectively owned by the Head of the Crimean branch of the Batkivshchyna [Motherland] Party, National Deputy Andriy Senchenko.
The Press Service of the Crimean branch of Batkivshchyna report that the Chornomorska management have received the court ruling in which it was stated that criminal proceedings have been initiated against officials of the company over alleged avoidance of taxes.
The Head of Chornomorska, Tetyana Krasikova has stated that the management of the channel have not been informed of this criminal case and do not know what it is about. She says that she, the Technical Director and Chief Accountant of the company were invited to the tax police as witnesses and asked for copies of their signature.
For us this is a total surprise. I have no doubt that none of this is accidental, that these are actions which confirm that pressure is being brought to bear on an opposition television and radio channel, she says.
Andriy Senchenko has stated that due to the arrest of the company’s accounts, serious problems are arising in its work. He says that it is not paralyzed but that there are problems. The accounts make it possible to pay people their salaries, pay for communal services, broadcasting and so forth.
He adds that certain people have already suggested that he sell Chornomorska.
Mr Senchenko says that Chornomorska is planning to appeal against the actions of the tax police in court.
Volodymyr Prytula, Head of the Committee for the Monitoring of Freedom of Speech in the Crimea states that news of the arrest of the Chornomorska accounts has caused concern among journalist organizations in the Crimea and Ukraine, since this incident, he believes, jeopardizes freedom of speech in the country.
Mr Prytula says that he has sent a letter to the President expressing serious concern over the situation. “With this ruling, the authorities and officials have in a way set up the President who has said that there are no problems with freedom of speech, no censorship. This information undercuts the President’s words and he looks very bad.”
It should be stressed that neither the Crimean authorities, nor representatives of the tax administration in the Crimea , are commenting, though a spokesperson for the tax administration said that they would be giving an explanation in the near future.