Human Rights in Ukraine

13.12.2001 | Ludmila Kucherenko, Poltava.

A journalist was driven out of a conference.


For the umpteenth time the Poltava authorities showed their real face. They incessantly pay lip service to the basic democratic values, including the freedom of speech, but in fact they suffocate this freedom.

On 28 November the conference of heads of village councils and agricultural enterprises was held. Pavel Kandyba, the head of the Mirgorod district administration, disliked the presence of Viktor Kozoriz, the editor of the opposition newspaper ’Mirgorodska Pravda’, who is also an assistant-consultant of MP Oleksandr Kulik. Actually it was a meeting with a potential MP – M. Kilipok, the head of a Poltava enterprise connected with natural gas production. He, by the way, began his election campaign of 1998 with a scandal connected with the violation of election laws: he distributed with a discount sugar among the pensioners of the Kyivskiy district of Poltava. Mr. Kandyba, ordered to drive the journalist from the hall. This was done bodily by A. Trinko, the secretary of the Mirgorod district council, and M. Levchenko, the head of the directorate of land resources, and one head of an agricultural enterprise. Eyeglasses of Viktor Kozoriz were thrown down, his jacket was torn, so the journalist suffered not only morally, but materially.

I phoned to P. Kandyba and demanded explanations, since it was he, who gave the order. Yet, he retorted that he has the right to dive out a journalist from the conference, to which this journalist was not invited, since the firm may have some secrets concerning forming prices, putting out candidates, etc.

I think that it was not a slip of the tongue of the head of the Mirgorod district administration, when he called the organ of the executive power a ’firm’. This is the way, in which he considers the organ when committing arbitrary actions, although, according to his status, he must be a guarantor of constitutional rights in the region, and not an abuser of laws and ethics of a state official.

The Poltava media-club compiled the appeal about the brutal fact of harsh treatment of our colleague and sent it to the President, head of the Supreme Rada, General Prosecutor of Ukraine, head of the National Union of journalists and head of the Main State service. Here not only citizen’s right to get the publicly important information was abused, but also the right of journalists for access to information sources and the right to attend the organs of state power and of local self-rule. According to the new Criminal Code, impeding journalist professional activities implies criminal responsibility.

Thus, we must state that the freedom of speech is threatened in the Poltava oblast. The distribution of the printed mass media, whose point of view differs from that of the administration, is harassed, using different pretexts such newspapers are ousted from printing shops, disagreeable TV companies are switched out from cable networks, businessmen are ’recommended’ to give their advertisements only to appointed editions, journalists are not permitted to be present at the sessions of various councils, and now they added the application of brutal force. Shall a journalist, going to a conference to state organs, take with his a militia patrol or private guards?

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