In Sumy a newspaper has been closed. Is the closure of media outlets during the elections becoming a tradition?
On 17 February in the city of Sumy, the Sumy Region Appeal Court ruled to suspend the issue of the newspaper “Hromadyany Ukrainy” [“Citizens of Ukraine”] until after the elections, having thus refused to overturn the ruling of the Zarichny Court issued on 13 February.
The Editor of “Hromadyany Ukrainy”, Yury Matsko, asserts that the newspaper has been temporarily closed “for a flagrant violation of the Law on the elections”, since the Law prohibits pre-election campaigning for parties by media outlets not affiliated to a party.
It should be noted that the founder of the newspaper - the head of the regional organization of the Christian Republican Party, Oleksandr Sakhno, agrees that the newspaper was guilty of an infringement of the law on the elections. In one of the issues of “Hromadyany Ukrainy”, in order to collect signatures to support the first five candidates from the candidate list for the local council and mayors office from the Christian Republican Party, their names were published, together with an appeal to support them at the elections. However Oleksandr Sakhno considers that the Constitution of Ukraine gives him the right to “express his views with the help of the mass media”.
Lawyers from the Institute of Mass Information have looked into the situation in Sumy on 22 February, and have stated that the material with the call to support a certain political faction was indeed given in the newspaper on the condition that this was not paid for from the election funds of the given party. Moreover, at the time of publication of the material relating to the candidate list and program, the party itself was not registered as a participant in the electoral process.
The claim against the Sumy newspaper was lodged with the court by a representative of the Socialist Party, Serhiy, on behalf of the Mayor Serhiy Klochko. However, the specialists from the Institute of Mass Information note that the newspaper has frequently criticized this state official, and therefore some politicians see the closure of the newspaper has being a means of “getting even with political opponents”.
After the elections, representatives from the Christian Republican Party (CRP) plan to approach the Constitutional Court for their opinion on this issue.
At the present time, the newspaper is not coming out in printed form. However, on behalf of the CRP, information is being distributed in the same format as that of the newspaper. The effective publishers are calling these leaflets.
We would remind the reader that quite recently in the Crimea, a court, on the basis of a claim lodged by in particular, the local “Party of the Regions”, ruled to suspend until after the elections the activities of the television and radio broadcasting company “Chornomorska”.