Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
UNIAN, 25 September 2003

Persecutions of disobedient press are going on in Ukraine


According to the UNIAN information, on 24 September the appeal court of the Khmelnitskiy oblast obliged «Chernivetska gazeta» to pay 25 thousand hryvnas to an official, who recognized himself in a feuilleton published by the newspaper. In April 2003 this official won the case in the Pershotravnevy court of Chernivtsy. Then he demanded 50 thousand hryvnas. So, the appeal court partly satisfied the appeal of the editorial board of the newspaper. This information was communicated by Petro Kobevko in his interview to the UNIAN agency.

In April 2003 the Pershotravnevy court of Chernivtsy issued the guilty verdict on the claim handed by Oleksandr Simenko, a former head of the Directorate for fighting the organized crime and corruption of the Chernivtsy oblast state administration, against the newspaper «Chas». The court obliged the newspaper to pay 50 thousand hryvnas of compensation and to publish the refutation of the article «How Oleksandr and Volodymir went to a bath-house». This publication described (in a satirical form, without the surnames) an episode from the life of an authority, who «went to a bath-house with a briefcase containing 300 thousand USD». The former official of the oblast administration demanded 200 thousand hryvnas from the newspaper. He also demanded to block the accounts of the newspaper and to seize its property, but the court did not satisfy this part of the claim. Local journalists and representatives of the Institute of mass information were present at the April court sitting.

The editor-in-chief of »Chas» told that he had been disappointed with the decision of the appeal court, since «the matter concerned the moral values». By his words, the judge in Khmelnitskiy, as well as his colleague in Chernivtsy, did not apply Article 10 of the European Convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms, thus «some violations were committed». The editor stated that, in spite of the decrease of the compensation sum, this sum was still «too large» for the edition. Yet, he is sure that «the newspaper will be published all the same, regardless of the wishes of some authorities». P. Kobevko informed that «Chas» would appeal against the new decision to the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and, if it would be necessary, to the European court of human rights. He also pointed out that all accounts of «Chas» were blocked after the decision of the Khmelnitskiy court.

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