Situation with mass media has improved
Sergey Taran, the director of the Institute of mass information, told that on 6 June at the press conference presenting the results of monitoring of observance of the freedom of speech in Ukraine.
In particular, the IMI fixed noticeable progress in investigation of criminal cases connected with the crimes against journalists, first of all, the case on Gongadzes murder.
At the same time, Taran stated that the number of new violations against mass media and journalists had decreased. “In 2004 we fixed 48 attacks on journalists, which meant that the attacks were committed almost every week, and during five months of the current years only five attacks on journalists have been registered”.
By the information of the IMI, last year only two facts of attacks aimed at intimidation of journalists ended with trials against the attackers. This year law-enforcing organs, as a rule, react to the complaints of journalists, although the investigation of the cases, started this year, is still lasting.
During 2005 the IMI has not fixed any facts of detention or arrest of journalists in Ukraine. One of Ukrainian journalists of the TV channel “5 kanal” was detained in Uzbekistan. “In 2004 we observed 8 facts of detention and arrests of journalists in Ukraine”, said Taran.
As to the political and economic pressure on journalists, Taran says, there were 60 such cases, and most of them were connected with the election campaign.
This year 5 such cases were fixed, mainly they were connected with the replacement of power in regions – coercive dismissal of heads of state and communal mass media, as well as policy of new leaders of regions and districts regarding the opposition press.
By words of Taran, there were 52 cases of hindering journalists professional activities in 2004 (27 cases in 2003), in particular 29 of them – refusal to give accreditation and impediment to distribution of newspapers or their concrete issues with the information undesirable to the authorities.
In 2005 9 facts of impediment to journalists activities were observed, but these cases were not a display of censorship, but a result of “technical reasons”.
By the words of Taran, in 2004 190 suits were handed against mass media and journalists, 11 of them were handed by political figures and top officials. Only one of 5 actions, handed this year, was brought by a state organ, namely by the tax militia of the Dzerzhinskiy district of Kharkiv against the newspaper “Piatnitsa”.
The IMI also points out the new tendency, when journalists and mass media win the cases against them. Two cases lost by President Yushchenko were adduced as an example: against the newspaper “7 dniv” and Ganna German, the former press secretary of Yanukovich, as well as the claim of the General Prosecutors office against the TV channel “NTN” and the suit against a Rivne newspaper lost by governor Chervony.
Taran said that the main problem of the power regarding mass media was the absence of proper reaction to critical statements of journalists, lack of the professional comments on socially important problems in Ukraine.