12.12.2001 | Igor Stoliarov, Odessa

"Freedom of speech" in the Nikolayev oblast


The Nikolayev oblast authorities stirred up their activities in the struggle with the freedom of speech on the eve of the parliamentary election-2002. Such an orgy started in the region, which could not be imagined in the past. In all cases the victims are consoled by explaining about "technical problems".

The freedom of speech and the attitude of the local authorities to democracy in the Nikolayev oblast were brightly illustrated during the visit of Viktor Yushchenko, the head of the bloc "Nasha Ukraina" ("Our Ukraine"). It will suffice to tell that, for the first time in the history of the oblast TV, the TV-air was switched off five minutes before the beginning of Yushchenko’s speech. During 20 minutes the oblast inhabitants observed only flickers on all channels.

Only Yushchenko’s insistence and his readiness to come on the air later changed the situation. The authorities hesitated, "technical problems" were correspondingly liquidated and Mr. Yushchenko at last got the opportunity to communicate with voters. In the opinion of the bloc "Our Ukraine", the regional power widely uses the "administrative resource" (that is the capabilities of the power to use their position in order to influence the election) and presses on independent mass media.

The all-Ukrainian newspaper "Ukrainsky Pivden" published in Nikolayev also has now some problems.

According to the words of Yuri Didenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. "only a part of the newspaper run with the report about Yushchenko’s visit was printed. After the oblast authorities, who are made to endorse the bloc "Za edynu Ukrainu!" ("For the united Ukraine!"), learned what was published in the newspaper, the printing of the second part of the newspaper run was stopped "because of technical problems" again.

Yuri Didenko explained the reasons of the calamities in the following way: "The newspaper permanently publishes the materials not only from Nikolayev, but also from Odessa and Kherson. We do our best to objectively describe our current life. Mostly, the local authorities do not like it, and they do what they can to prevent the publication of the newspaper "Ukrainsky Pivden", which Ukrainian in spirit and language.

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