It’s become freer in Ukraine, but journalists still get beaten up


The American human rights organization Freedom House reports an improvement in Ukraine as regards freedom of speech during 2005

This is one of the findings in the organization’s annual report “Freedom of the Press – 2006. Annual global survey of media independence” published in advance of the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

The new Ukrainian leadership is praised for the situation in the mass media during 2005 and the latter is said to have become more independent and balanced in its coverage of events. Political interference in the activities of the mass media generally decreased, and there were other important improvements, the human rights organization notes.

However Freedom House does point out that progress was made in small steps and that there remain violations of the rights of the mass media in Ukraine.

In the report Ukraine is criticized in particular for the fact that pressure and attacks on journalists still occur and the investigation into the murder of the journalist Georgy Gongadze is still dragging on. Coverage of events is still quite frequently distorted or serves certain political or economic interests since many media outlets are owned by oligarchs or people close to those in power.

In general the Freedom House experts found a worsening in the situation as far as freedom of the press in the world is concerned.  The most pronounced erosion in freedom of speech over the last years was found in Latin America, in the Caribbean region and in countries of the former USSR, as well as in Asia and Africa.

The authors of the report were particularly disturbed by Russia which dropped to 158th place out of 194 countries on the organization’s ratings. They consider that the issue of restrictions on press freedom in this country should be broached by the US or other government leaders gathering for a summit of the G8 in July in St. Petersburg.

Ukraine this time stood at 113 – the best rating among members of the CIS.

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