Are the mass media of the Lugansk oblast independent?


This year the Lugansk public committee for human rights protection conducts the investigation of the level of freedom of local newspapers. The investigation is conducted in the framework of the project “Consulting and informing peasants through district newspapers” and is financially supported by National Endowment for Democracy and Foundation of the development of Ukrainian mass media at the USA Embassy, Kyiv.

We have already disclosed some problems, the existence of which may be interpreted as the almost complete dependence of district newspapers on local power organs.

This dependence has the political and economic character: after the election-2002 the systematic process of replacing the owners of the newspapers began in the oblast. Before this the newspapers were founded, as a rule, by journalists (journalists’ collectives) or editorial collectives and district councils. This year (in fact, the process began in autumn of the last year), according to the decision of the local councils, the journalists’ collectives were removed from the composition of founders of eight out of seventeen district newspapers. In four of these newspapers the place of journalists was occupied by state administrations:





“Slavianoserbskie Visti”


District council


“Visti Bilovodshchiny”


District council


“Slovo khliboroba”


District council


“Radianske slovo”


District council




District council and administration


“Vestnik Novoaydarshchiny”


District council and administration


“Popasnianskiy vestnik ”


District council and administration


“Trudovaya slava”


District council and administration

Most probably this tendency will result in the complete estrangement of journalists from the ownership of newspapers and absolute economic dependence of journalists’ collectives on district administration.

During the monitoring of local newspapers it appeared that the majority of the newspapers work not for readers, but for administration: they contain the information pleasant for the authorities, but almost do not write about the urgent problems of the districts, such as the violations of property rights in the course the agrarian reform. This is the reason of scanty runs: 3-5 thousands.

The committee concluded the agreements with the editors of two district newspapers (“Antratsitovskiy vestnik” and “Vestnik Novoaydarshchiny”) about the creation of the consulting centers at the editorial boards. The editors were summoned to the administration. They got the “recommendations” not to cooperate with the committee, since this project was allegedly financed by the political opposition (!). The representatives of Novoaydarskiy district administration insistently inquired me about my political orientation, they asked “for whom I had been working” during the previous election campaign, and who financed the committee now.

The reason of this situation is trivial: numerous violations of the rights, especially in the property sphere, must not, in the interests of the corrupted bureaucrats, be elucidated by the newspapers and discussed by public.

Under such conditions of censorship (or self-censorship) and the absence of freedom the protest reactions are inevitable, either in the form of delitescent conflict or in the open form. For example, for more than a year one of the courts considers the claim of V. Poydin, the editor of the Novopskovsk newspaper “Peremoga” against the district administration in the connection with the illegal persecutions after the publication of an article criticizing the district authorities for corruption.

Nikolay Kozyrev, the Chairman of the board of the Public committee for protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, Lugansk

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