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18.04.2011

Kyiv Post owner acknowledges censorship

   

 

This is how the Kyiv Post Facebook page responds to the interview given by millionaire and owner of Kyiv Post, Mohammad Zahoor to Kommersant-Ukraine.  As reported, the editorial team has been on strike since Friday in protest over the dismissal of Chief Editor, Brian Bonner, who refused to remove the following article:

“On the Hot Seat”, published in English and Ukrainian begins with the words: In Europe’s breadbasket, critics are talking about the ‘Great Grain Robbery.’ Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk is under fire for state controls on grain exports that favor a controversial company, Khlib InvestBud. Speaking with the Kyiv Post, Prysyazhnyuk defended the actions. The Kyiv Post editorial team declared their decision to strike on Facebook on Friday, demanding that Brian Bonner be reinstated as Chief Editor.  Their statement can be read below or on Facebook.:

Kommersant-Ukraine writes that “According to Mr Zahoor’s version, the reason for the dismissal was the Chief Editor’s disagreement with the newspaper’s editorial policy”.

Mohannad Zahoor: “Our points of view did not coincide regarding editorial policy, and he received the first warning a year ago. I thought that we needed more social themes and advertising, the newspaper and website should make a profit, while Bonner preferred burning political topics”.

Zahoor said that the Ukrainian government had not put pressure on the paper’s policy. “I did indeed ring Bonner and ask him not to publish an interview because the material was rough, unprepared and vapid. He needed to rework it, get the documents which were missing* and not print it any old how. We planned to publish the interview later, and for me there’s a big question mark over why Bonner published it in the under-worked form”. He added that Mr Bonner had signed the document dissolving their contract “very happily”.

The Kommersant – Ukraine article claims that the Kyiv Post editorial team think that Bonner received a good deal. The newspaper quotes, but does not name, “one of the Kyiv Post journalists” as saying that Bonner was offered 6 months pay and agreed to the dismissal, and that he did not want to take the publisher to court.

Mohammad Zahoor told Kommersant that the new Editor, Jim Davis who worked at that post previously would be introduced to the staff on Monday.

There is no mention of any of this on the Facebook report which explains what the material was that Zahoor considered “rough and unprepared”, and notes that the Minister of Agriculture, “Prysyazhnyuk, said on 15 April that he had never put any pressure on the Kyiv Post editorial team, which is absolutely true since he put pressure on the publisher. He said moreover that he’d liked the interview which makes Zahoor’s statement doubly strange.

In accordance with Ukrainian legislation, censorship is a criminal offence. Article 171 of the Criminal Code, in particular, envisages criminal liability for obstructing journalists in their professional activities.”

From http://kommersant.ua/doc.html?docId=1623905 and the Facebook postings cited

 *  The Minister made a couple of assurances that documents confirming various facts would be provided - the article states that as of going to print they have still to be produced (translator) 

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