Do They Know What They Are Doing?
Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy started his attempts to take away terrestrial television frequencies from TV networks TBi and Channel 5 in the very first week after the inauguration of the new President. Since then numerous petitions have been written, all following the same pattern: «Dear Mr President, we appeal to you with the request…». No response. Lately, more and more concerned petitions have been arriving from abroad (as for instance, from International Press Institute’s Interim Director Alison Bethel McKenzie). There are no substantial reactions from the government; only declarations with no follow up. There are numerous proofs of illegitimate use of power and persecution of journalists by the Ukrainian Security Service and law-enforcements agencies can be seen on YouTube. People on Bankova St ignore them. At best they say dismissively: “You still have Channel 5, you will have it!”
In the meanwhile, Mr. Khoroshkovskiy proving his devotion to the president, has uncovered potential “killers” of the President among the Internet bloggers, concurrently he is about to complete his legal battle against TBi and Channel 5, the court hearing, which is to deprive the above mentioned TV channels of their licenses, is scheduled to take place on August 16, 2010.
During this entire period of six months’ long struggle the President of the country has not explained why he puts up with the evident conflict of interests, when the owner of the biggest media group in Ukraine Іnter is the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, and at the same time, the same person, publicly and openly uses the Ukrainian Security Service for his private business interests. The President still has a few more days to resolve this conflict of interests by dismissing Mr. Khoroshkovskiy from his position of the Head of the Ukrainian Security Service for flagrant abuse of his official duties.
The President has not explained to the public why he allows the plaintiff in the court case about the distribution of TV frequencies to be simultaneously a member of the High Council of Justice, which, by the way, is subordinated to the President, and which appoints and dismisses all judges. The President still has a few more days to ensure fairness and transparency of the judicial process.
The President and his team have been ignoring numerous articles in the press about the fact that the appointment of new members of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting took place with flagrant violations of the law. President still has a few more days to stop the lawlessness and let the public know that the new government will not tolerate disregard of the law.
The President knows very well that on December 16, 2009 the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine warned the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting that the acquisition of additional licenses by the Inter media group could change the situation in the TV market and adversely affect competition. The President of Ukraine today has the last chance to not allow monopolization of the media market by the Inter group and by its owner Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy, and therefore also monopolization of the media by the Ukrainian Secret Service.
If the President does not do all that, I as a citizen of this country will have all reasonable grounds and moral right to come to the conclusion that the head of the Ukrainian Secret Service is merely carrying out a plan that was in advance sanctioned by President, and accordance to which the media in Ukraine should be “cleaned up”, free from unruly channels and freedom loving journalists.
The fulfilment of personal business interests of Mr. Khoroshkovskiy is in this case a reward for the successful execution of the plan. This situation is so dangerous to my country that I believe it is my civic duty to publicly inform Head of the Council of National Security of Ukraine Mrs. Raisa Bogatyriova about this threat.
In that way, in the future no one in the top reaches of the government could even think of hiding behind the almost Biblical expression: “For we knew not what we were doing”.
Myroslav Marynovych, Vice Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University and former political prisoner
August 12, 2010