A new report of „Freedom House“: the situation with the freedom of speech in Ukraine deteriorated


„Although the terrorist attacks of 11 September and the following global struggle with terrorism became a test for world mass media, the situation with the freedom of speech have not practically changed in 2001“, affirm the authors of the new publication of „Freedom House“. This publication presents an analysis of the freedom of the press in 187 countries.

The number of „free“ countries have increased (40%), the proportion of the countries, where the freedom of the press is completely absent, makes 33%, and 50 countries are related to the category „partly free“. Ukraine and Russia belong to the latter group.

Karin Deutch Karlekar, one of the authors of the publication, in her interview to the radio „Liberty“ summed up the position of Ukraine: „Ukraine occupies more or less middle place among the East European countries and the post-Soviet countries, so it was included to the group with partly free press. The situation with the freedom of the press in Ukraine is better than in Belarus, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Yet, it is noteworthy“, she added, „that this situation in Ukraine is much worse than, for example, in Czechia, Slovakia and even former Yugoslavia. This means that Ukraine is on the same level as last year, or maybe even lower, since the situation in other East European countries is improving“.

According to Ms. Karlekar, the situation in Russia is similar: both Russia and Ukraine took the 60th place, and from the 61st place the group of the „un-free“ countries begins, that is the countries where is no freedom of speech.

During the last year in Ukraine the acts of violence against journalists took place, for which the offenders were brought to responsibility very rarely. The murder of famous journalist Georgiy Gongadze is not unclosed until now, murders of other journalists are also investigated extremely slowly. The authorities frequently abuse the constitutional guarantees of the freedom of speech and the press, militia often carries out the searches of the journalists, who write about the corruption among state officials. The pressure on the mass media is also realized through tax agencies, the documents reads.

Ms. Karlekar considers that the only noticeable positive change in the sphere of the freedom of the press in Ukraine is the adoption of the new Criminal Code, according to which the libel may not be regarded as a crime.
UP, 23 April 2002

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