Mass protest resignation from Forbes Ukraine
14 Forbes Ukraine website and journal employees handed in their resignation on Tuesday, Nov. 13, stating that this is over attempts to change the publication’s editorial policy. This comes just one week after the announcement that Serhiy Kurchenko had completed his buyout of the Ukrainian Media Holding which owns Forbes.ua ahead of schedule. This removed any restrictions on changing the board of the UMH group and placed management of UMH in the hands of Kurchenko’s VETEK media company.
Ukrainska Pravda spoke to Chief Site Editor Oleksandr Ruban who explained that on Tuesday the Chief Editor of the Forbes Ukraine project, Mykhailo Kotov rejected “without giving any reason” a previously agreed feature on advisers to first deputy prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov.
Ruban stressed that the Chief Editor has the right to make this or that decision. “I was told that there would be a list of topics which we won’t be able to write about that that a wide choice would remain”.
He said that they were not prepared to work in such conditions. The resignation, he added, “was not over a specific incident. There have been a whole range of events making it clear that something will change.”
The collective statement says: “On 13 November, 13 journalists and editors from Forbes Ukraine submitted their resignations. The reason for the departure of a major part of the team lies in attempts to change editorial policy.”
The news that Kurchenko was buying up the UMH Group came in mid June and followed a number of other changes in media ownership widely seen as forward planning for the 2015 presidential elections.
The response from the Chief Editor of Forbes, Volodymyr Fedorin was immediate. He announced his resignation, stating that he considered the sale of Forbes Ukraine to be the end of the project as it had existed. He was convinced, he wrote, that the buyer had one or all of the following aims: to shut journalists up before the presidential elections; to whiten his own reputation and / or to use the publication for purposes that have nothing in common with media business. Forbes had in fact published material highly critical of Kurchenko.