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25.02.2009

A response, but hardly an answer

   

The Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda” has received an official response from the Head of Information Policy Service of the President’s Secretariat, Larisa Mudrak regarding possible interference by the Security Service in the publication’s work.

As reported already, during the President’s annual summing up conference on 23 December, the President’s Press Secretary Irina Vannykova asserted that the question from Internet users which had gained the most votes reflected the interests of Russian users.

The question referred to was: “Dear Mr President, please tell me how much we (simple folk) need to pay you so that you, together with all the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, ministers and public officials go abroad once and for all and stop preventing the country from developing normally?”/ It received over 100 thousand votes

In commenting on the situation at the time, Larisa Mudrak told “Ukrainska Pravda” that the Secretariat had ordered an investigation in order to find out how a question from the Internet audience critical of Viktor Yushchenko had become so popular. “We are ourselves interested in where some feelings in the Internet come from. We ordered an expert assessment in the relevant state bodies and the experts informed us that it was mainly Russian Internet users who voted for that question”, she stated, but did not elaborate as to which body carried out the investigation. 

In a joint statement, “Ukrainska Pravda” and “Korespondent.net” demanded an explanation from the President’s Secretariat as to where the President and his Press Secretary had received confidential information about voting statistics. The open letter was published on their sties, but remained unanswered for a month, after which an official request for information was sent to the Secretariat.

“UP” reports: “On Tuesday a courier from the Secretariat arrived and after two signatures and two official stamps, we finally had in our possession the response from the Head of Information Policy of the President’s Secretariat. We must frankly admit that we were disappointed. This isn’t a response, but a fob-off letter. We understand that neither the President, nor Irina Vannykova, nor Larissa Mudrak have anything to tell our readers”.

The letter indeed provides no specific response to the question asked as to how they received the information.

After two introductory paragraphs it states that in “preparing the Head of State’s interview, the Secretariat consulted with various services and specialists. They confirmed the presence of information attacks, including from organized Internet groups from neighbouring countries in order to increase the ratings of certain questions.

The suppositions of the Internet publication regarding possible outside interference in the work of the servers taking part in the Internet conference are not correct and are absurd. We guarantee that there was no violation of the private Internet realm in preparing and carrying out the project.”

The letter then goes on to assert that the very Internet conference was an example of openness and impartiality, and that Yushchenko was the first president to have agreed to participate in such a thing. It calls this “FREEDOM OF SPEECH the YUSHCHENKO WAY”.

The final paragraph states their conviction that cooperation between the authorities and the media must be based on “mutual respect and mutual responsibility” (highlighted in the letter.)

The letter in full, together with “UP”’s less than impressed response is at: http://pravda.com.ua/news/2009/2/24/90253.htm

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