Crimean Press Freedom Committee concerned over pressure on opposition channel
The Committee for the Monitoring of Freedom of Speech in the Crimea has addressed a letter to President Yanukovych in which it expresses concern over the pressure being brought to bear on the largest and oldest private TV and radio company in the Crimea – TRC “Chornomorska” [Black Sea TRC].
As reported already, on Monday the investigator from the Tax Police of the Department of the State Tax Administration in the Crimea signed an order to have Chornomorska’s property frozen. Tetyana Krasikova, the channel’s Director asserts that this is linked to a criminal investigation which has nothing to do with Chornomorska.
The Committee for the Monitoring of Freedom of Speech in the Crimea considers such actions by the authorities to be a threat to freedom of speech in Ukraine and the region. This is especially dangerous after the Verkhovna Rada and Crimean parliament set local elections for 31 October this year.
As one of the most popular television and radio companies in the Crimea, Chornomorska has held a particular place in the politicized market of the Crimean mass media. Often providing critical coverage of the actions of Ukraine’ authorities, of those in the Crimea and in Sevastopol, it has thus ensured full coverage of the political spectrum of thought in the region.
In view of this, efforts to restrict or obstruct the work of Chornomorska on the eve of the elections could significantly influence the right of Crimean residents and people in Sevastopol to receive full information in order to make an informed choice.
The Committee calls on the President, as Guarantor of human rights in Ukraine including the right to freedom of speech, to take the situation around Chornomorska under his control and to not allow the cessation of broadcasting of this largest and popular Crimean TRC.
The Committee for the Monitoring of Freedom of Speech in the Crimea has also called for support from Ukrainian and international human rights and journalist organizations.