Zaporizhya Mayor’s Closed Door Policy for Journalists
The Mayor of Zaporizhya, Oleksandr Sin has prohibited journalists from attending the weekly meetings with the heads of departments within the City Council. He claims that officials are scared to tell the truth so as not to attract journalists’ attention. Journalists are outraged and call this restriction of their right of access to public information.
Oleksandr Sin says that the officials do not tell the whole truth in front of journalists, so every week there is a long line of officials waiting to discuss some question or other with him. He considers this situation to be wrong.
Despite the Mayor’s decision, journalists from some Zaporizhya and national publications decided to attend the first meeting with the new format. However it was learned that Mr Sin had cancelled this manner by which the media communicated with the authorities altogether. Now the Mayor will learn about what is happening from his advisers and deputies. He promises to speak with them any time. “This is my personal decision. When to hold meetings, in what form and who takes part.”
Zaporizhya journalists do not conceal their anger. According to Bohdan Vasylenko, Editor of the Zaporizhya regional newspaper “Subbota” [“Saturday”], the meetings at the Mayor’s office were a valuable source of information.
“Such steps show that there are no open officials in our country. I will simply be more wary about their statements from now on”.
Some media experts are surprised that the Mayor does not take on officials with better communication skills. According to Ihor Rozkladai, a lawyer for the Institute for Mass Information, “This is already a question of how suitable they are in general for such work, how well they meet the requirements and how qualified they are to make decisions if they can’t talk about some things in public. If it’s not some kind of secret information”.
In the corridors of the City Council people voiced the opinion that Oleksandr Sin has made such concessions to his opponents with a deputy majority from the Party of the Regions. The Mayor did not confirm this at today’s press conference. At the same time his decision to limit communication between staff of the Mayor’s office with journalists coincided with land scandals making the City Council buzz.