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01.02.2007

Press freedom in Ukraine reduced last year after the achievements of the Orange Revolution

   

This is the verdict given in the report for 2006 of the international journalist organization Reporters without Borders, published in Paris on Thursday.

“The greater press freedom achieved in 2005 was reduced by physical attacks on journalists and failure to complete the trial of the killers of journalist Georgy Gongadze”

The Director of the European Section of Reporters without Borders, Elsa Vidal told Radio Svoboda: “Although there have been a lot of declarations about Gongadze’s case being a matter of national honour, it looks as though it’s impossible that those who ordered the killing will face justice.  There are also calls to punish Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko for trying to slow down the investigation and influence its outcome. This is shocking. Since Georgy Gongadze’s death, he has become the symbol of resistance to the regime, yet even after the change in regime in Ukraine, there remains real resistance to finding his killers. And this casts a shadow on the state”.

The organization speaks of considerable problems with press freedom. They mention the arson attack against the home of Lilia Bujurova, editor of the weekly Pervaya Krimskaya and president of the Crimean

Association of Independent Journalists, the beating up of Volodymyr Katsman, editor of the paper Stolichnye Novosti, in Kyiv, the hounding of Margarita Zakory in Dniprodzerzhynsk and the conviction of Volodymyr Lutyev in Yevpatoriya.

Bujurova, editor of the weekly Pervaya Krimskaya published a list of candidates to the Crimean parliament with criminal connections in March 2006;

Katsman  - editor of the paper Stolichnye Novosti, the newspaper’s editorial office and journalist Serhiy Kovtunenko, who was involved in journalist investigations have received threats.

Zakora, - editor of the weekly Dzerzhynets in Dniprodzerzhynsk, ran a campaign against corruption among regional officials

Lutyev, editor of the weekly Yevpatoriskaya Nedelia, was sentenced to eight years in prison on 12 July for alleged corruption after being held since June 2005 when former Crimean MP Nikolai Kotliarevsky accused him of attempted murder. Lutiev had often criticised him in print for electoral fraud and corruption.

More journalists died in the world last year than in any of the preceding 10 years – 81 journalists were killed in the course of their work, 65 of them in Iraq, the organization reports.

There were also a large number of journalists arrested and imprisoned.

The organization is also concerned by the level of freedom of means of information in the world and point to cases of self-censorship in democratic countries.

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