13.12.2001 | Natalya Lebid

A journalist can easily get into the USS cobweb


On 16 September a year has passed since Georgiy Gongadze’s disappearance. When recollecting Georgiy, one cannot help asking if his tragic lot protected other journalists, if they feel themselves safer after the so-called ‘investigation’ of Gongadze’s case? Unfortunately it is obvious that the answer is negative. A burst of public indignation caused by the events around Gongadze did not appear so strong that it could devoid the state power of levers of the pressure upon mass media and trigger cardinal changes in this respect in the country. Thus, everything resumed its normal course. Another journalist, Igor Aleksandrov, was murdered... Journalists continue working under the sword of Damocles: those, who do not service the ruling circles, risk their hides.

Young journalist Tetiana Chornovil, a correspondent of the well-known magazine ‘Politika i kultura’, felt a touch of the sword. Tetiana’s political sympathies led her to the Ukrainian National Assembly, where she works as a press secretary of the UNA-UNSO, simultaneously working as a journalist. In the beginning of 2000 Tetiana was one of those, who organized the Chechen informative center in Kyiv. The center was created by joint efforts of the UNA-UNSO and the human rights protection organization ‘Helsinki-90’.

The center intended to gather the data that would elucidate, in the objective and unbiased manner, the actual course of events in Chechnya, to publish the obtained data in mass media and thus to counterbalance the Russian ‘version’ of what is happening in Chechnya. At that time similar centers were already opened in the USA, the Great Britain, Holland, Germany and Baltic countries. In civilized countries such informational activities cause adequate reactions. Yet, a similar fact of opening the Chechen informative center in Kyiv irritated Moscow that got accustomed to look at Ukraine as at a vassal. And since the Ukrainian government is ready to fulfil any orders from the Kremlin, the USS began to be closely interested in the activities of the center and its members.

The pressure on Tetiana Chornovil began since her journey to the Caucasus, to the zone of the military conflict, which she visited in the capacity of a journalist. She met with the peaceful inhabitants of Grozny, communicated with Chechen commanders, interviewed Russian servicemen. ‘In the informational aspect the journey appeared very useful’, told Tetiana, ‘I have brought a lot of interesting data. Yet, an unpleasant surprise waited for me in my home-country.’ At once after her return, the USS phoned to Tetiana and ‘invited’ her for a talk. For some time Tetiana refused to visit the revered organization without getting an official summon, but later she had to obey for ‘oral’ invitation, after her parents got several phone calls from the same source.

According to Tetiana, the USS warned her that she could be blamed for the enlistment of mercenaries to participate in the Chechnya war. The evidence of those mercenaries, whom she allegedly agitated to serve in the Chechen army, could ‘prove’ the guilt. It is obvious that such evidence, if any exists, is a fake. The further ‘development’ of the case could have unexpected consequences for Tetiana.

It is not quite clear why this pressure on the journalist, then, in the beginning of 2000, was moderate. Maybe, the cassette scandal and the change of the USS administration switched the focus of attention of this organization to other problems? Maybe, the USS decided to put on a hook Tetiana Chornovil and the entire UNA-UNSO, to have the opportunity to deal with them some other time. It would be a convenient chance to blame, if needed, the most radical (and, hence, the most dangerous for the power) opposition organization for a crime.

As to the UNA-UNSO, the pressure upon is permanent, in spite the fact that its leaders are put behind the prison bars after the notorious events of 9 March. On 30 August the Public Russian TV-company groundlessly accused the UNSO members of the support of Chechen terrorists and in the participation in military actions against the Russian army. The Ukrainian power, which has a habit to mimic the ‘big brother’, hurried to blacken the UNSO having used as a pretext the tragic events of 11 September in the USA. The support by the UNA-UNSO of the terrorists, who caused so much suffering to the American people, was added to the list of sins of the organization. The UNA-UNSO is now weakened with the repressions against its activists, so the Ukrainian authorities should recollect that it is ungentlemanly to beat a lying foe. Yet, in the Ukrainian politics other moral (or rather immoral) rules are used...

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