The Poltava officials allege that the political censorship in the oblast is invented by opposition journalists


The free mass media helped many great states to become great. Yet, the Ukrainian, and, in particular, Poltava authorities do their best to suppress and even to obliterate completely the free press. They do not disdain any methods to protect their own corporative interests.

This question was discussed at the conference „Society, mass media, power: the freedom of speech and censorship in the Poltava oblast“. The conference was held in the framework of the preparation to the parliamentary hearings devoted to the problems of the freedom of speech, which will be conducted in the beginning of December in the Supreme Rada. The conference was initiated by the Poltava oblast media club. This public organization of journalists realizes the pre-court and court defense of journalists and mass media, carries out the permanent monitoring of the freedom of speech in the oblast and plans to publish the book „White book of Poltava journalism“ next year. About fifty journalists, political figures, representatives of power structures and „the third sector“ took part in the conference.

The results of sociological research showed that the Poltava oblast occupies the 22 ndplace among 25 oblasts of Ukraine by the level of the freedom of speech; it got only 2.1 balls out of possible 5.

The participants of the conference gave a great number of blatant facts connected with the violation of the citizens’ right for objective information, with impeding journalists in the access to the information sources and with harsh treatment of those journalists and mass media, who fulfil their professional duties honestly. The methods used by the authorities are time-proved: all printing shops refused to print the newspapers „Informbulleten“, „Myrgorodska pravda“, „Novy den“, „Pryvatna sprava“, „PoltavaRukhinform“ there were attempts to dismount the transmission antenna of the TV and radio company „UTA“ the activities of the loyal mass media are encouraged and the activities of those mass media that dare to criticize the power are hindered; the journalists of the opposition mass media are not admitted to the sessions of local councils, their informational requests are ignored; the prosecutor’s organs do not react to the complaints about impeding the professional activities of journalists; the courts satisfy the claims about enormous compensations; producers are privately prohibited to place their advertisements in the disobedient newspapers and salesmen are prohibited to spread such newspapers, etc.

When a round table on the problems of the freedom of speech was held in Kharkov, E. Kushnarev, the head of the oblast state administration, took part in this action. Yet, the top authorities of Poltava and the Poltava oblast, such as Tomin, Shemet, Grishko and Mykhayliuk, ignored the conference conducted in their town, although the heads of the oblast organizations of the political parties evaluated the conference as very important event in the life of the oblast. Ivan Ulitko, the head of the directorate of the internal policy of the oblast administration, and Yuri Dmitrenko, the head of the oblast directorate of the press and information, did their best to repudiate the obvious facts of the political censorship in the Poltava oblast, exciting the righteous indignation of the participants of the conference.

The speech of Yu. Dmitrenko became the apotheosis of absurd and the visual demonstration of the real image of the power. He probably forgot the topic of the conference and began, for some reason, to tell how many times the directorate of the press and information was reformed during the years of independence. He also read out the lengthy list of the newspapers, to which his agency sent the recommendations to remove the violations of the election laws. Then O. Rusin, the first secretary of the Poltava town committee of the socialist party, asked whether they sent such recommendations to the pro-power newspapers „Zoria Poltavshchiny“, „Poltavski visnyk“ and „Vechirnia Poltava“, who already for half a year deceive their readers calling MP A. Kukoba the town mayor. Yu. Dmitrenko answered the question in the manner of our President: „Oh, damn, we overlooked them!“

The heated discussion that lasted for four hours finished with the approval of the resolution that, in particular, recommends to restore in the oblast the permanent deputy commission in charge of mass media, which E. Tomin „forgot“ to create when became the governor, to conduct the deputy hearings on the state of the freedom of speech in the oblast and to organize the public reporting of the heads of the most influential state and communal mass media that are maintained at the expense of tax payers: the newspapers „Zoria Poltavshchiny“, „Poltavski visnyk“ and the TV and radio company „Ltava“. The resolution also recommends to introduce into the composition of the editorial boards of the communal mass media the representatives of the opposition parties, who got not less than 68% of votes at the last election in the oblast, and to institute the quotes for representing the local branches of the Parliamentary parties in the state and communal mass media.

The public committee for protecting the freedom of the press was created at the Poltava oblast media club. The members of the committee are journalists and representatives of the oblast and town branches of the parliamentary parties and public organizations.

Ludmila Kucherenko,

The president of the Poltava oblast media club

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