16.11.2004 | Natalya Romanova, Oleksiy Tarasov, Tukhan Ediev, the Chernigiv public committee of human rights prot

Election process in the Chernigiv oblast


During July the tendency intensified to the use of administrative resource in favor of one of the candidates to the post of President of Ukraine. So, according to information given to us by “Our Ukraine”, Gerashchenko, the head of the Chernigiv town heating directorate, and Volodymir Davidenko, the head of the housing department of the Desnianskiy district, threatened their subordinates with dismissal and forced them to collect signatures in the support of V. Yanukovich. From the same sources we obtained the information about the creation, in the structure of the town council, of the operative squad of people’s militia headed by V. Negodnikov; the functions of this squad are not comprehensible. The ChPCHRP conducts now a series of actions for ascertainment of this information and reaction in the case of revelation of violations of operating laws.

There is also another phenomenon: since the middle of July the number of complaints from citizens, in particular the officials of the organs of state power and local self-government, to the committee has increased sharply. The complaints concern the pressure, which is exerted on these citizens by representatives of the district administrations of the oblast. This wave of complaints coincided by time with the collection of signatures in the support of candidates to presidency and activization of pre-election race. The officials of the organs of local self-government complain that they are threatened, by phone and personally, with dismissal and repressive actions, if they would not guarantee the priority conditions for the candidate supported by local administrations. There are several complaints about the pressure exerted on citizens my militiamen.

Such complaints are a warning about the probable intensification of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, which may start in September and October. Even now one can observe the attempts to restrict the right to free choice, the atmosphere of fear and non-freedom in the society is thickening.

The committee got the documents, which evidenced about the violation of part 4 of Article 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine” by one of district state administrations. A month before the official start of the election campaign the heads of state establishments received the official letter with the order to take measures for increase of the level of subscription to the newspapers founded by district and oblast state administrations. The heads of establishments and enterprises, in their turn, recommended to their subordinates to subscribe without fail to the mentioned editions. The control of the subscription was realized by the workers of post offices: they were ordered to ask about the place of employment of the subscribers and to compile the registers. If an establishment did not fulfill the “plan”, its head had an unpleasant talk with the officials of the district administration.

In July the editorial policy of the regional editions continued to change in the connection with coming election.

In order to study the situation with rights and freedoms in the materials printed in mass media, our committee conducted the monitoring of all social-political printed mass media of the Chernigiv oblast, which have been published during last month; were published regularly; were published for more than 12 months and were distributed through “Ukrposhta”. So, we studied the editions, which had permanent readers and were distributed on the commercial basis.

As a result of monitoring we’ve got the following results.

Like in July, we’ve fixed that almost 100 % public and political editions appeared as mouthpieces of some political forces. Absolute identity of materials published in these mass media was fixed again. In other words, the most part of publications were devoted to some concrete political point of view. Except for some fascicles of the newspaper “Gart”, we did not fix any alternative positions or references on existence of such positions. Presentation only of “one-sided” materials in mass media gives a possibility to say about the obstacles in guaranteeing of the right for access to information, in particular in the context of impartial social-political information. As before, the greatest part of the materials was devoted only to one potential contender.

The all-Ukrainian weekly “Sivershchina”, being a right-wing opposition edition, wrote mainly about Mr.Yuschenko and his activities, as well as lacks and shortcomings in the activities of the operating government headed by Mr.Yanukovich. Such direction of publications is confirmed by headlines, such as: “Force of people grows in geometric series”, “Parallels between 2004 and 1991”, “It is enough to compare the achievements of governments of Yushchenko and Yanukovich”, “People’s telephone against “temniks””, “The best medicine from falsifications is the “Georgian variant”” (“Sivershchina”, No. 31 of 30 July 2004).

As to the editions founded by the organs of state power and local self-government, such, for example, as “Desnyanska pravda”, the situation also has not changed in comparison with previous month. As before, the articles are published about “the achievements of the government headed by V. Yanukovich” and nothing is said about other potential candidates to presidency.

The only exception is the information about “Labazov’s case”. Mass media of the Chernigiv oblast paid much attention to the events around the conflict between the representatives of regional headquarters of V. Yushchenko and V. Yanukovich in the town of Priluki. For instance, the newspaper “Chernigivski Vidomosti” (No. 32 for 5 August 2004) published the article “Attack on the headquarters in Priluki”, in which Ivan Kochubey, the first deputy of the head of the oblast militia directorate, stated his position on the events of 27 July 2004. The pro-power newspaper described this situation almost similarly, although some of these editions were more neutral and gave the opportunity to their readers to draw the conclusions independently.

In general, in July the organs of state power conducted the considerable work through mass media and in collectives for improvement of image of operating Prime Minister and candidate to President’s post Viktor Yanukovich. They tried to show him in the most favorable light, to reduce the influence of the facts of his biography, which had the negative public resonance. We believe that such massive attack on the conscience of voters heightens nihilism in the society and arouses the irritation of citizens, who understand that the officials try to dictate their will. Our committee regards these activities as an encroachment on the freedom of consciousness.

So, the following conclusions may be made: the state mass media mainly present the materials about the achievements of the operating government and describe the positive sides of personality of the Prime-Minister of Ukraine. The opposition mass media of the Chernigiv oblast incline to negative elucidation of the activities of representatives of the organs of state power and local self-government; besides, they describe, although to a smaller extent, the positive personal features of their candidate and the work of his political movement. All mass media give no alternative information.

Moreover, none of the analyzed newspapers except “Sivershchina” attended to the problems of education of the potential voters concerning their civil and political rights. This means that the mass media have only political goals.

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