13.12.2002 | Ludmila Kucherenko, Poltava

The freedom of speech? Do not touch!


We must confirm that the nearer is the election, the dirtier are the methods used by the power to get rid of those independent mass media, which do not say the white seeing the black. This is the problem of the freedom of speech in the Poltava oblast that was debated at the consecutive press conference of the Poltava media club.

Ungrounded refusal to print opposition newspaper, persecutions of disobedient journalists, destroying computer databases in editorial boards and stealing already printer runs of newspapers make only a part of the tricks applied by the power.

Complaints to prosecutor’s offices and courts do not guarantee the protection, even if the law is on the side of mass media. Thus, one of the Poltava oblast courts without any reasons, in the opinion of our advocate, rejected the claim handed by the media club against the publishing house ’Poltava’ that last summer one-sidedly broke the contract about printing our newspaper ’Novy den’. Nonetheless, as Tamara Prosianik, the editor-in-chief of the Kremenchug weekly ’Informative bulletin’ asserted, the local Themis found groundless eight claims against the weekly. Yet, the Mirgorod inter-district prosecutor’s office refused to start the criminal case about impeding the professional activities of a journalist, namely Viktor Kozoriz, the editor of the newspaper ’Mirgiridska Pravda’. V. Kozoriz was, by the order of P. Kandyba, the head of the district state administration, was bodily thrown out (having thorn his jacket in the process) from the conference, where any witnesses from the information press were undesirable. On the contrary, the journalist was practically blamed that he invented the fact of the beating. These conclusions were made by the prosecutor’s office from the evidence provided by the participants of the conference (’closed for the press’, as it was written in the prosecutor’s resolution). Among the witnesses was A. Korsunskiy, a colleague-journalist from the official district newspaper. What can one say about journalists’ and common human ethics?!

The authorities now are trying to destroy the Poltava TV and radio company ’ЮТА’. The head of company, after 8 years of faithful service to town mayor A. Kukoba, at last found vigor to stand up from his knees. The authorities are acting after the standard script. Customers are insistently recommended not to place their advertisements in this company, the rental was increased by 15 times, the broadcasting of the company programs in the Poltava cable network was suspended. Two specialized institutes estimated that the radiation of the TV company transmitter is by an order of magnitude less than the boundary admissible doze. In spite of this E. Tomin, the head of the Poltava oblast state administration, at one of the weekly apparatus conferences, ordered to two corresponding services to solve the question about placing the transmitting antenna to other sites. V. Shapoval, the chief state sanitary doctor of the Poltava oblast, who personally signed and stamped the sanitary permissions of the Tv company in 2001, suddenly issued the official letter, in which he urges the administration of the House of technology to break the contract with the TV company for the rent of the roof, where the antenna is placed.

Georgiy Chechik, the general manager of the TV and radio company ’ЮТА’, considers that the actions of the Poltava rulers directed at the closure of the company are caused by the fact that he has more than 30 hours of video records, where the local authorities of all levels look, mildly speaking, not very well. So, they are afraid that this compromising materials would be transmitted during the election campaign. It is obvious that when the voters see the moral level of their rulers, it will be no sense to continue their election campaigns. Although the permissive documents of the TV company for the transmitting antenna are in order, the Poltava officials demonstrate their firm attitude: Poltava town sanitary doctor Sukhonos has already issued the order to dismount the antenna.

That is the way how the Law is obeyed in this country!

Comment of the counselor of ’IREX ProMedia’.
In my opinion, the freedom of speech, like any other value, is not something given forever. Always there is somebody, who will try to encroach upon it. This is the problem, but it must case not desperation and passivity, but the wish to struggle for one’s rights. Each of us is free to choose if he will fight and how.

However, some ways are efficient, and others are not. It depends upon us: either we want to inform the public about a problem or to solve it.

The mentioned incidents are the conflicts, which must be solved in the legal sphere.

The refusal to start the criminal case concerning V. Kozoriz may be protested at court or at the oblast prosecutor’s office. One should remember that the success of this case for the journalist depends upon the fact if he was accredited or not. If not, it would mean that he violated the legal rules and cannot pretend to be protected by law.

In the case of the TV and radio company ’ЮТА’ it is important to know, what are the objections formally and from whom they emerge. If the documents of the company are in order, then the actions of those, who impede the broadcasting, must be brought in court with computing the total financial losses. It is also hard to understand, how might one to increase the rent by 15 times. This must be complaint against in the special court.

If your colleagues intend to protection their rights, they must turn to lawyers, and not only inform the public about al these violations.

Nataliya Petrova, advokat

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