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15.12.2003

The appeal of representatives of mass media and human rights protecting organizations of the Lugansk oblast.

   

On 24 April 2003 the Leninskiy district court of Lugansk chaired by judge O. Matveyshina started the consideration of a civil case. The case concerns the claim of V. Medianik, a well-known Lugansk businessman and a deputy of the town council, against the editorial board of the newspaper “Rakurs-plus” and journalist Nikolay Severin on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. The deputy assessed his honor and dignity at 100 thousand UAH.

We want to remind that the indignation of V. Medianik was aroused by the article written by Nikolay Severin and published in the newspaper “Rakurs-plus” in summer of last year. In this article the deputy was criticized for his unwillingness to fulfill his pre-election promises.

Being a Ukrainian citizen, deputy V. Medianik has the right to turn to court demanding to protect his rights. Yet, this court, according to the Constitution, must guarantee the equality of all parties of the process.

In October 2002, when the case was on the stage of pre-trial preparation, judge O. Matveyshina issued the decision about the seizure of all runs of the newspaper “Rakurs-plus” until the end of the year, of the equipment of the editorial board and personal property of the author of publication. This decision was taken on the basis of a petition of V. Medianik.

In fact, the newspaper had been already closed before the beginning of the trial. The damage equal to tens of thousands hryvnas was inflicted to the editorial board.

The editorial board of the newspaper “Rakurs-plus” handed the complaint against the decision of judge Matveyshina to the Appeal court of Lugansk. Five months later the appeal court cancelled the decision. This could happen even earlier, but neither deputy Medianik nor his representative advocate N. Bukvich appeared on the court sessions.

On 24 April 2003, during the first court sitting on this case, judge O. Matveyshina prohibited to the TV company “Irta” to make video-records. Thus, the judge violated Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine that envisages criminal responsibility for impeding the professional activities of journalists. For some reasons, the consideration of the case having a great public resonance was conducted in judge’s office, and not in a courtroom.

Before this, in autumn 2001, the same judge considered the case of the same deputy against the national TV and radio company “Kontinent” and issued the decision about the seizure of the transmitters of the company. This meant the termination of the work of the company “Kontinent”, while the result of the consideration of the case was not known yet.

However, the administration of the TV company “Kontinent” managed to force the officers of justice to respect laws. It should be noted that the mentioned case is considered already for two years, and nobody can predict when this red tape will finish.

The actions of O. Matveyshina mean either that she does not know the laws on informational activities, or that she fulfils some political order.

Unfortunately, this attempt of court interference into the activities of independent mass media did not obtain any legal assessment of higher court instances. This disturbing fact allows to think that the methods similar to the actions of judge Matveyshina can be used during the forthcoming Presidential election, when both local authorities and political parties will not be interested in the independent and unbiased court.

Alas, such incidents are not infrequent in the Leninskiy district court, as well as in other courts of the Lugansk oblast.

We, journalists, want to live and work obeying the Ukrainian laws. But we demand to observe our rights, in particular, the right for own opinion, the right for information and for the opportunity to deliver this information to our readers, listeners and spectators without obstacles.

V. Bakumenko, the head of the press center of the all-Ukrainian newspaper “Gromadskiy kontrol”;

K. Poltavskaya, the editor-in-chief of the national TV and radio company “IRTA”;

A. Savenko, the head of the informational service of the national TV and radio company “IRTA”;

N. Kozyrev, the head of the board of the Public committee for the protection of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, a correspondent of the newspaper “Svoboda”.

"The Chronicle of violations of human rights in the Lugansk oblast”, April 2003, the bulletin of the Lugansk oblast branch of the public organization “Voters’ Committee of Ukraine”

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