‘Stop Censorship Statement on the Court ruling over broadcasting frequencies
The Movement ‘Stop Censorship” believes that the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal may have been subjected to external pressure over its cancellation of the results of the TV broadcasting frequency tender. It is well-known that the Head of the Security Service [SBU], Valery Khoroshkovsky who is also a member of the High Council of Justice, had an interest in precisely that ruling and is able to exert influence on judges. We also have information that the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, the makeup of which was recently changed with Mr Khoroshkovskys active participation, was acting in his interests and did not make the necessary efforts to prove its case in the courts.
In our opinion a court ruling issued under such conditions is not in line with the principles of democratic and civilized resolution of business disputes and could form a precedent for the authorities intervention in the activities of independent media outlets and constitutional regulatory bodies.
Without venturing any assessment of the court ruling, ‘Stop Censorship” calls on the President to remove a possible factor of pressure on the court by dismissing Mr Khoroshkovsky from the High Council of Justice before the cassation review of the case, and to also give serious thought to whether it is appropriate for a businessman with such a clear conflict of interests to head the Security Service.
The movement also calls on the authorities, the Inter group, and TV channels to hold negotiations and to find a compromise which would enable the winners of the January 27 tender to have their rights restored, while rectifying the mistakes possibly made by the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council in establishing the results of the tender.
We would view the absence of steps towards resolving these issues as the initiation by President Yanukovych’s team of a mechanism of control over inconvenient media outlets through the use of “tame” supervisory bodies and biased court rulings.
We would also consider that the President’s Administration was imitating the Russian model of creation of a strong presidential structure and a subordinated and uniform information realm through the elimination of alternative media outlets.
The movement “Stop Censorship” was created on 21 May 2010. It is an initiative by Ukrainian journalists and media NGOs aimed at upholding freedom of speech, preventing censorship, the obstruction of journalists when carrying out their professional duties, and violations of professional standards in covering socio-political issues. It has no political ties or agenda. More information can be obtained from Artem Sokolenko at censor[at]gmail.com