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Freedom of speech has won: Ukrainian media outlets are no longer eligible for the “Free Press of Eastern Europe” Award

The Hamburg-based foundation ZEIT-Stiftung and its Norwegian partners Fritt Ort (Oslo) have announced the 2008 Gerd Bucerius “Free Press of Eastern Europe“ award winners. Three newspapers, one Internet site and three journalists from Russia, Belarus and Azerbaijan were awarded.

The award ceremony will take place on 19 May in Hamburg. The laureates are the Russian newspapers “Novoye vremya” [“New Times”] and “My city without censorship” [Khanty-Mansiysk], the Belarusian weekly “Gazeta Slonimskaya”, and the Internet site “Weekly”, as well as the journalists Victoria Ivlyeva (Moscow), Yelena Larionova (Murmansk) and Pauf Mirkadirov (Baku).

Marcus Baumannis, Head of the ZEIT-Stiftung Board says that the Gerd Bucerius “Free Press of Eastern Europe“ remains vital. “In Belarus, Russia and Azerbaijan … pressure is increasing on journalists, and they’re encountering numerous obstacles to their work.”

For the first time this year Ukrainian media outlets were not considered. The international jury explained their decision as being due to the positive development of the Ukrainian mass media since the Orange Revolution and noted in particular positive movements in the area of freedom of speech.

ZEIT-Stiftung has been running the Gerd Bucerius “Free Press of Eastern Europe“ Award since 2000. It is awarded to journalists and publications which courageously defend press freedom and liberal civic society in the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe where there are considerable problems with press freedom. Since 2004 the Award is run in partnership with the Norwegian fund Fritt Ott.

In previous years the following Ukrainian newspapers: “Dzerkalo tyzhnya” [“The Weekly Mirror”], “Vysoky zamok” and “Express” [both from Lviv] and “Molodoy bukovynets” [from Chernivtsi, were laureates, as well as the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”.

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