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24.04.2008

Ukraine’s National Union of Journalist names 15 enemies of free speech

   

The National Union of Journalist of Ukraine [NUJU] has drawn up a list of 15 public officials and judges who, in its opinion, are strangling freedom of speech in Ukraine.

Among the 15 people named is the current Mayor of Kyiv, Leonid Chernovetsky.  Giving their reasons for his inclusion, they mention that back in 2006 (when he was elected), the heads of the editorial board of the municipal newspapers “Khreschatyk”, “Evening Kyiv”, “Ukrainian capital”, as well as of the television company Kyiv and radio station Kyiv 98-FM, were fired. Since then all of these media outlets have been headed by acting chief editors. The Union also says that the newspapers’ have turned into fighting material for Chernovetsky and that they are trying to turn journalists into vassals of the Mayor’s party.

Another of those strangling freedom of speech, in the journalists’ view is Yury Sydorenko, the Head of the Consultative Council of the consortium SSAPS [Single State Automated Passport System]. Mr Sydorenko is seeking damages of 46 million UAH against the newspaper “Business” and a journalist over the publication of a journalist investigation into the problems of the passport system. The Union points out that the very amount in itself is an obstruction of the professional activities of the journalist and newspaper.

One of the judges in the journalists’ list is Tetyana Khaustova, judge of the Slovyansk  (Donetsk region). She previously passed judgments against Ihor Alexandrov, who wrote a lot of hard-hitting articles about Donetsk politicians and about corruption in the law enforcement agencies. He was murdered in 2001.

More recently she allowed the compensation claim brought by Valentin Rybachuk; Mayor of Slovyansk, against a television company. The ruling was overturned by a court of appeal due to the incorrect application of Ukrainian legislation and for not taking into account case law of the European Court of Human Rights.  The judge found value judgments to be inaccurate, this being in violation of legislation and ignoring the public importance of information about the city’s Mayor (the European Court of Human Rights has stressed that public figures must tolerate a greater level of public and media scrutiny than others).

The list also includes the following public officials:

Valery Kolosivsky, Head of the Zhytomyr District State Administration

Volodymyr Kovalenko; Mayor of Nova Kakhovka (Kherson region)

Valentin Rybachuk; Mayor of Slovyansk (Donetsk region)

Ihor Sikachyn, Head of the Rozdilnyansk District Council (Odessa region)

Mykhailo Strelyany, Specialist for the regional department for press and information of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration

Vasyl Sydor, Mayor of Slavuta (Khelmnytsky region)

Viktor Taryelnikh, Head of the Petropavlivsk District Council (Dnipropetrovsk region)

and the following judges:

Ivan Dirko, Judge of the Tsentralny District Court in Mykolaiv

Yury Hrytsa, Judge of the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Economic Court

Anatoly Ivanyshchuk, Head of the Kherson Regional Court of Appeal

Mykola Veres, Head of the Oktyabrsky District Court of the Sumy region

Volodymyr Yaroshenko, former Head of the Kirov District Court in Kirovohrad

 

The Head of the Union Ihor Lubchenko says that this list is not full, but reflects only the most flagrant cases of violations of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s international commitments. The Union will be passing its list to the International Federation of Journalists, the Council of Europe and European Parliament.

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