The collective of the UNIAN agency is pressed by the President’s team.


In the beginning of September the change of founders occurred in the information agency UNIAN. According to the information given by, earlier the control package of shares of the agency, whose founders were the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Union of Lawyers of Ukraine, unions „Ukraina“ and „Prosvita“, belonged to „Privatbank“. Yet, as Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, told during the round table „Political censorship in Ukraine“, the control over the agency now passed to the structures close to Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) (SDPU(u)). „Privatbank“ administration passed the shares of the UNIAN agency to the top authorities of the SDPU(u) in exchange for the priority in the purchase of the North ore mining and processing enterprise in Krivoy Rog. „The group of politicians decided to concentrate their efforts in the information sphere selling for this the state property“, declared M. Tomenko calling this situation „unprecedented“. The head of the Supreme Rada committee drew the attention of the head of the state to the disagreement of the operating laws with some President’s decrees and resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers concerning the activities in information sphere, as well as to the full control on the side the SDPU(u) and Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of President’s administration, over the distributing of key positions in this sphere and the contents of informational and analytical materials in mass media.

On 1 October the UNIAN made public the appeal of the journalist collective about the internal situation in the agency. In particular, the appeal reads that the agency got under a strong pressure connected with the independent information activities, and that the collective relates this with the appointment a week ago of the new head of information service -- executive manager of the UNIAN Vasyl Yurichko, who represents the interests of President’s administration.

As informed, the collective of the UNIAN agency turned with the open letter to President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Head of the Supreme Rada Volodymir Litvin, Head of the Parliament committee in charge of freedom of speech Mykola Tomenko, ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva, Head of the State committee in charge of information policy, TV and radio broadcasting Ivan Chizh, head of the directorate of information policy of the President’s administration Sergey Vasylyev.

The collective of journalists pointed out that during the last week, after Vasyl Yurichko appeared in the agency and was appointed as the executive manager, they began to feel the display of political censorship. They believe that some instructions given by Yurishko concerning the materials, which had to be shown in the information line of the agency, were caused only by the political conjuncture.

For instance, on 1 October the material „People’s deputies blackmail the independent press“ appeared in the agency line with the personal signature of V. Yurichko. This material stated that MPs Petro Simonenko, Oleksandr Moroz and Yulia Timoshenko were allegedly pressing on the administration of the UNIAN to get the opportunity to conduct their press conference in the conference hall of the agency. In response to this article the „opposition trio“ declared their intention to turn to court.

The journalists informed that the information about the intention of the deputies to turn to the court was published on the agency line with the title „The „opposition trio“ may turn to court with the claim against the UNIAN administration“. Yet, 30 minutes later the information was removed after the oral order of Vasyl Yurichko. This order was given to the editors in presence of the issuing team. Besides, the material „Opposition deputies believe that usurpation of mass media continues in Ukraine“, which described the assessments of the above-mentioned situation by Yu. Timoshenko and O. Moroz, also was not published.

„During the last week the UNIAN journalists more than once got the instructions concerning the contents of the information issued on the agency line“.

Moreover, V. Yurichko threatened the journalists by sacking in case of not fulfilling his orders about political accents in the materials of the agency.

„The policy carried out by Vasyl Yurichko violates our right for elucidating the events, which occur in Ukraine, as well as the right of our readers, the citizens of Ukraine, to obtain the information“.

On 3 October the Internet site of the rebellious information agency UNIAN was closed. Instead of the homepage of the site one could see the message that the resource was temporary inaccessible „because of technical reasons“ (in Russian). Later the Ukrainian translation of this message was added. Until this the site was the only place, where one could read about the evolution of the conflict between the journalists and the new administration of the agency.

About 11:40 a.m. it became possible to load the site, but the last news on this site were marked by 9:54 a.m.

At the same time the meeting of the shareholders of the UNIAN was hold in the agency.

As the Institute of mass information communicated, the participants of the meeting discussed the conflict between the journalist collective and their new administration represented by Vasyl Yurichko and Oleg Nalivayko. According to the information of one of the UNIAN journalists, during this meeting Yurichko told that he fired Albina Trubenkova from the post of the editor of the political department and said that he would have no objections against the dismissal of other journalists, who signed the protest letter.

V. Yurichko also informed that the agency site was not working because of his order, since the actions of the journalists, who supplemented the resource, were illegal.

After the meeting acting general manager of the UNIAN Vasyl Yurichko stated that the collective and the administration of the agency came to the agreement that the agency policy would not change and will consist of actual and unbiased elucidation of the activities and positions of all political forces.

Oleg Nalivayko promised to communicate the position of the journalists to the board of shareholders. The both parties of the conflict agreed to continue their dialog after the shareholders’ meeting.

The National Union of journalists of Ukraine declared that it supports the appeal of the agency collective, MPs also joined the conflict. The party „Batkivshchina“ did not miss the opportunity to meddle into the situation too. Fanning the fire of the conflict the party mentions Yurichko in plural generalizing the bureaucrat from journalism to the level of social phenomena. Other opposition mass media act in the same manner.

On 9 October the conference of Ukrainian journalists „Political censorship in Ukraine“ was hold. More than 100 representatives of various mass media and public organizations took part in the conference. They stated that political censorship exists in Ukraine and decided to create the trade union of mass media workers. This is the first case, where not only the eternal question of intellectuals was raised: „What to do?“, but it was also decided to create an acting public organization, which, first of all, would organize the strike committee. Although the majority of the journalists acknowledged that the idea of journalists’ strike is an extreme method of the struggle, the strike committee will represent the interests of the trade union in all negotiations with the au with the authorities. In what follows we publish the Appeal of the participants of this conference.

Our informant

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