13.12.2002 | Volodymir Pritula, Simferopol

The Crimean authorities press on the local mass media


The hard situation with the freedom of speech established in the Crimea, informed the local Committee for monitoring the freedom of the press. In particular, the independent newspapers in Bakhchisaray and Alupka have troubles with the authorities.

In February 2000 one of the oldest Crimean newspapers "Chernomorska zaria" stopped to exist. The conflict between the journalists and the local authorities was lasting three years. The latter won. Irina Khrol, the editor of "Chernomorska zaria", had to leave the Crimea under the pressure of the authorities. In spite of the public support, she did not manage to protect the newspaper journalists. Now a similar situation is developing in Alupka.

For more than a year the conflict is smoldering between town mayor Valeriy Andik and Ragim Gumbatov, the editor of the local independent newspaper "Alubika". As a result, the edition was deprived of accreditation in the town council, it was throttled by numerous controlling and financial inspections, the rent of the rooms, where the editorial board is placed, was called off.

Answering the appeal of journalists and human rights protecting organizations of the Crimea to stop the pressure on the independent newspaper, Mr. Andik stated that "all the accusations are false", and the behavior of the mentioned organizations is "scandalous". Besides, he proposed to Mr. Gumbatov to get the accreditation "in another town council".

The situation in Bakhchisaray is not so dramatic as in Alupka. Here Volodymir Tsyganskiy, the head of the district administration, and Fedor Kozhevnikov, the head of the town council, unanimously refused Ludmila Shchekun, the editor of the independent newspaper "Bakhchisarayskiy Vestnik" in accreditation. The arguments were funny: they said that journalists of the newspaper "Slava trudu" were accredited in the district power organs, that these journalists elucidate the work of these organs completely, so there was no need to accredit some other mass media.

The town authorities refused to give the accreditation to Ms. Shchekun even after the appeals of Mykhaylo Rogozhin, the head of the Republican committee in charge of information of the Crimea, and such organizations as the Committee of monitoring the freedom of the press in the Crimea, Crimean association of free journalists and the Crimean Center of independent political researchers and journalists. In his answer Mr. Tsyganskiy quite seriously proposed to complain against his actions to the President, ombudsperson or to a court.

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