Court satisfied the claim of V. Sitar against the Internet-newspaper “Grani”. The newspaper must pay 60 thousand UAH to recompense the moral damage
The court admitted that Viktor Vorotnik, the editor of Brovary newspaper “Grani”, was guilty of libel. On 14 June 2002 the Internet-newspaper “Grani” published the Article signed by Sergey Romanovskiy “Apocalypse is free”. The sensational information was immediately picked up by other mass media, at first – by network editions (“Versii” and “Ukraina kriminalnaya”), and later – by newspapers and TV. The article contained a number of the scandalous accusations concerning the President of Ukraine and the Council of National Security and Defense (CNSD). The author of the article mentioned the name of Vasiliy Sitar, who allegedly advised to major Melnichenko “how to cross the frontier without problems and how to behave later on”. The “main hero” of the article had no other way out except the protection of his rights in court. Mr. Sitar won the court process. This affair was completed on 6 March 2003: the Appeal court of the Kyiv oblast approved the decision of the Brovary court of 12 November 2002. Two defendants, who represented “Grani”, were obliged to publish the refutation and to pay to Vasiliy Sitar the compensation of moral damage equal to 60 thousand hryvnas. Now “Grani” has disappeared from the informational space. The Institute of mass information, referring to the editor of “Grani”, communicates that the Internet-newspaper “is not published for more than a month either in printed or in electronic form”. Besides, the IMI remarks that “Grani” plans to resume the work approximately in a month.
We could not find Mr. Vorotnikov, but we managed to put some questions to Vasiliy Sitar, a deputy head of the CNSD.
“… I was very surprised, when I find my name in the report of “Reporters without frontiers”. The international reporters pointed out in the section “Threats” that last year five Ukrainian journalists were intimidated by the representatives of Ukrainian state power. One of the examples reads that I threatened Viktor Vorotnikov. Really, Mr. Vorotnikov turned to various organizations, including international ones, with the complaints against the alleged facts of intimidation and threats to his life. Yet, these insinuations have been already disproved in court. This court process was elucidated by the agency UNIAN in November, the materials about the trial were published in many newspapers and on Internet-sites… I brought an action not against the mass medium, but against the physical person -- Viktor Vorotnikov. You see, Article 440-1 of the Civil Code exists, which reads that if a person spread some information in any way, other people familiarized with this information, and it inflicted damage to somebody, then the distributor of this information is responsible for his actions. This means that I had the legal grounds to bring the suit against Vorotnikov as a physical person…
For the first time the juridical practices deals with the information spread through an Internet edition. It appeared during the trial that there was one more defendant – Sergey Shumikhin, a co-owner of the site “Grani”…
I believe that this provocative material was invented by somebody else, not Vorotnikov, as a part of the action directed against the top authorities of Ukraine with the purpose to undermine the trust in Ukraine… I do not want to start legal proceedings against the “Reporters”. I sent the copies of the court verdict to them, and I hope that they will refute this lie about me”.
(«2000», Nos. 18-19, 16-22 May 2003)