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13.04.2004 | Igor Stoliarov, Odessa

«Pray. You will die, your son will die, your wife will die…»

   

Leonid Shtekel, the editor-in-chief of the independent Odessa newspaper «Pravoe delo», heard this strange threat from a strange woman, who tried to enter his flat in early hours of the morning of 19 February. In the opinion of the editorial collective, this event could be regarded as a fortuity, if to forget about the incident that had happened with Irina Goloborodko, a deputy of the editor-in-chief, who had been also intimidated by strangers.

On the eve of the election the information is more and more frequently obtained from Odessa about very unpleasant occurrences with journalists of various independent and opposition editions.

On 19 February Leonid Shtekel handed the complaint to the prosecutor’s office and the city militia precinct. In the complaint he wrote that about 4 a.m. an unknown woman tried to burst in his flat. Shtekel did not know whether this woman was alone or not, but her behavior seemed strange to him.

The attempts to break the door stopped only when the journalist phoned to the Primorskiy district militia precinct. By the way, all telephone numbers of the district precinct, which he knew, were busy and Shtekel had to postpone the handing of the complaint until the midday of 19 November.

L. Shtekel said: «It is difficult for me to give the concrete estimation of this situation, since it is rather strange. Yet, recollecting the recent events around our newspaper, I can say that I have the feeling of rum concourse of circumstances. Nothing of the sort had happened to us before. And this arouses some thoughts and questions…»

Now the newspaper «Pravoe delo» is a defendant in the case on reprinting from the Internet-edition «Vlasti.net» of the open letter of an anonymous officer of the oblast USS directorate about «corruption in the above-mentioned agency and its connection with the notorious Odessa criminal leaders». One of personages of this article Gennadiy Trukhanov, the President of the Ukrainian national federation of tai-boxing, handed the claim «on the protection of honor and dignity» and demanded to collect 200 thousand hryvnas from the editorial board of the newspaper. At one of the recent court sittings the agreement was concluded about the peaceful settlement of the conflict, but later the plaintiff declined this solution.

A stranger, who visited the flat of deputy editor Irina Goloborodko, advised her to refuse from the protection of the newspaper, accompanying this «advice» with several threats. Now this case is investigated by the Odessa militia, but Ms. Goloborodko believes that the law-enforcers are not too active in the search of the criminal.

Meanwhile, Leonid Shtekel turned to the law-enforcing organs with the entreaty to protect him and his family from the possible danger.

The newspaper «Pravoe delo» is one of the not numerous Odessa editions, which dare to publish critical articles about the activities of the city administration, law-enforcing organs and special services. The newspaper gives the floor to the opposition political figures. Series of articles were published in several last issues about the illegal building of state officials’ villas on the seaside of Odessa.

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