“Sailor” gives the signal “ SOS”
On 18 April 2003 Evhen Kravets, the editor-in-chief of the all-Ukrainian trade-union weekly “Moriak” (“Sailor”), turned for help to the Institute of Mass Information (IMI). He informed that on 31 March Mykhaylo Kireev, the head of the Trade Union of the sea transport of Ukraine, categorically demanded from him to leave the service on own will. This demand was motivated by the argument that the newspaper allegedly caused damage to the cooperation of the trade union with its social partner – the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine. Mr. Kireev also declared that he would introduce censorship in the newspaper and would personally check all materials before the publication (or these materials would be checked by his deputy Oleksandr Kaloshin). The head of the trade union ignored the remark of E. Kravets that such actions contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine and operating laws. The editor proposed to summon the editorial board for discussing the situation, but M. Kireev answered that he was not interested in the opinion of the editorial board and that he would stop the financing of the newspaper until the dismissal of E. Kravets.
On 2 and 9 April 2003 Oleksand Kaliushin visited the newspaper office with the aim to check the materials before sending to printing shop and repeated to the editor the demand to leave his post. Since April 2003 the financing of the newspaper “Sailor” was terminated. On 11 April 2003 M. Kireev turned to the editor-in-chief with the written demand to pass to him the originals of all statute documents and accounts in the connection with the planned re-organization.
The newspaper “Sailor” is the oldest Ukrainian trade-union newspaper, which is issued since 1912. This newspaper has its circle of readers and is a symbol of Odessa and the professional unity of sailors. The newspaper was founded by the trade union of workers of sea transport of Ukraine.
The IMI commentary:
The termination of financial aid endangers the existence of the newspaper and is a form of pressure on the collective of the edition.
1. The financing of the newspaper was realized on the basis of the agreement between the central council of the Trade union of workers of sea transport of Ukraine and the editorial board of the newspaper. According to this agreement, the founder must render the financial aid to the editorial board. The agreement does not envisage the one-side refusal to fulfill the obligations.
2. Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media” reads: “The freedom of speech and free expression of opinions and convictions in the printed form are guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and, according to this Article, mean the right of each citizen for free and independent search, obtaining, storage, use and distribution of any information with the help of printed mass media.
Printed mass media are independent. The creation and financing of state organs, establishments, organizations or posts for censoring the mass media are prohibited.
The demand of the preliminary agreement of messages and materials spread by printed mass media, as well as the prohibition to distribute the messages and materials on the side of state organs, establishments, organizations or citizens unions are inadmissible, except the cases, where a state official was the author of the distributed information or gave the interview.”
Thus, the introduction of censorship by the head of the trade union of workers of sea transport is illegal, since the legislation does not permit to founders to interfere in the editorial policy of newspapers, which is the pressure on the editorial board. By the way, the censorship is PROHIBITED in Ukraine (Article 15 of the Ukrainian Constitution).
The editor-in-chief has the reasons to turn to the prosecutors office with the appeal on the institution of criminal case according to Article 171 – impeding the legal professional activities of journalists.
Part 1 Article 171 envisages the punishment for impeding the activities of journalists: the fine up to 50 untaxable incomes, or the arrest for the term up to six moths, or the restriction of freedom for the term up to three years.
3. According to Article 34 of the Ukrainian Law “On enterprises”, liquidation or reorganization of an enterprise is realized after the decision of its owner or, in the cases envisaged by law, after the decision of the owner and the labor collective or the organ empowered to create such enterprises.
“Sailor” is a trade union newspaper. It is owned by the trade union of workers of sea transport. The decision about the foundation of the newspaper was taken at the Plenum of the Central Council of the trade union of workers of sea transport of Ukraine. According to the Statute of the editorial board of the newspaper, the decision on reorganization (liquidation) of the newspaper may be taken only by the Presidium of the Supreme Rada. So, it is senseless to speak about the reorganization without the decision and resolution of the Plenum.
The Institute of mass information [21 April 2003 5:33 p.m.]
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Intimidation of the chief-editor of “Volna”
On 15 April Natalya Safikhanova, the chief-editor of the news service “Volna” of the Black Sea TV and radio company, was threatened by phone by a stranger. The talk was connected with the protest action of the tradesmen of the former Simferopol market “Autostop”, who erected the tent camp on the central square of the Crimean capital. The hunger-strike lasted already for 16 days. The man, who phoned to the news service “Volna” and asked to call Natalya Safikhanova, mumbled his name to the correspondent, who took the receiver, and the latter understood nothing. Safikhanova points out that the man was talking to her in the manner, which allowed to think that he knew her personally. The stranger asked why the news program “tells often about “Autostop” tradesmen” and asked: “Are you sympathizing with them, are you bored with your work?” When Safikhanova asked her interlocutor to introduce himself, he hanged up the receiver. This dialog did not contain direct threats, but the news service decided to made this case public. They did not hand the complaint to militia yet.
News service “Volna” firstname.lastname@example.org