Police Minister signs order on improving cooperation with the press
On 19 December the Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaly Zakharchenko issued an Order creating a working group which by 20 January should draw up practical recommendations on police interaction with the media.
He also ordered that police staff study legislation on the activities of the media; ensure that journalists are able to gather open information; help them in carrying out their professional activities; appoint a person responsible for interaction between the police and journalists during mass events, etc.
Journalists and representatives of the Ministry have over the last few weeks, since a meeting with the Minister, been working on instructions for the police regarding interaction with the media during mass events.
According to Oksana Romanyuk from Reporters without Borders in Ukraine, the aim of the negotiations was in fact to approve instructions, not recommendations. Registered instructions would therefore be better than recommendations which do not have to be implemented.
She says that the Order does confirm the main points set out in the draft Instructions, but it does not include liability for obstructing the legitimate activities of journalists; there is no prohibition on removing material gathered, damaging equipment, obstructing people from working, nor who to approach in cases of obstruction.
She is not convinced that practical recommendations will be enough to improve police officers’ attitude to journalists, but hopes that the issue of instructions will be discussed again by the working group. “Our aim is to achieve a serious result which will demonstrate serious intentions. I think this is a question of dialogue”.