Ukrainian “Enemies of the Press” announced
The results of the first Ukrainian anti-rating “Enemies of the Press – 2006” were announced today to coincide with World Press Day. The anti-awards are the joint initiative of the Institute for Mass Information (IMI) and the Ukrainian Independent Media Trade Union.
First (or do we mean last?) place among those obstructing press freedom was awarded to the Mayor of Kyiv Leonid Chernovetsky. Readers of this site may remember one series of reports here regarding conflict between the Kyiv authorities (under guess who?) and the editorial board of the municipal newspaper “Vechirny Kyiv” [“Evening Kyiv”]. The conflict, which began over allegations of censorship by the authorities culminated in the dismissal of the Chief Editor (cf. http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1166823769 )
Mr Chernovetskys claim to fame, so to speak, was explained at the press conference today as linked with the following:
- Unlawfully restricting journalists access to information over the activities of the Kyiv Mayors office;
- Putting pressure on the media through law suits;
- Systematically abusing journalists in public;
- Introducing censorship in the municipal newspapers;
- Violating current legislation by dismissing journalists on municipal newspapers.
Oleh Kalashnikov, State Deputy from the Party of the Regions, should also be known to our readers. His second place in the ratings stems from his assault on a journalist and cameraman from TV STB on 12 July 2006. To compound matters and despite calls from over 1,000 journalists, he has to this day only really “apologized” to his party, and in his latest public statements on the subject presents himself rather a the victim, than the assailant.
It is worth mentioning that he has still not been expelled from the Party of the Regions. Mr Yanukovych expressed some difficulty in explaining this when asked by European MPs in Strasbourg a few weeks ago (http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1176936691 – follow the links for earlier reports).
In fact, third and fourth place were also given to those guilty of force against journalists: Archbishop Pavlo from the Kyiv Pecherska Lavra was involved on 28 August 2006 in forcibly confiscating a video with footage from a camera crew of Channel 5.
On 3 June, one of Oleh Kalashnikovs faction colleagues – Dmytro Shentsev beat a photographer during a session of the Kharkiv City Council which he was attending as a guest. The law enforcement agencies refused to launch a criminal investigation due to the absence of elements of a crime, as the formulation goes.
The other 6 worst enemies of the press are:
Anatoly Hryshchenko, Speaker of the Crimean Parliament who, on 7 December 2006, attempted to introduce serious restrictions on journalist accreditation. Parliament was forced to back down following vehement protests from journalists and human rights groups.
Oleksandr Lukyanenko, Mayor of Donetsk – for limiting journalist access to a session of the City Council and filed a defamation suit over a cartoon.
Vasyl Kiselyov, State Deputy from the Party of the Regions, for attempting to introduce criminal liability for libel and trying to close the Black Sea television and radio company in the Crimea.
Valeriy Kolomoitsev, Ladyzhyn Mayor, who filed a defamation suit against the Chief Editor of the “Ladyzhynska gazeta”, Ludmila Holovashin, and on 26 December refused to allow another journalist from the same newspaper attend a meeting of the city council.
Tenth place is occupied by the Speaker of the recently dissolved Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Moroz for his numerous civil suits against the print and Internet media after these published critical remarks about his activities.
The organizers of the anti-rating invite journalists to report all cases where they are obstructed in carrying out their journalist activities. As well as (presumably) providing other help, they will also thus collect candidates for this years awards.
On Press Freedom Day we can piously hope they want find any fitting candidates, but unfortunately brutal reality and stubborn inability to respond to assaults on freedom of expression make it difficult to be so sanguine.