Ukrainska Pravda takes Finance Ministry to court
Hearings have begun in the District Administrative Court in Kyiv into a civil suit brought by Ukrainska Pravda journalist Serhiy Leshchenko against the Ministry of Finance.
Serhiy Leshchenko filed the suit over the refusal by the Ministry to provide a copy of its letter of 16 June 2011 addressed to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding records or their lack of company United Energy Systems of Ukraines debts owed to Russia as State debt.
The letter is not stamped as secret and states that the Ministry does not have information about the said company’s debts to Russian structures and that they are not registered in the Finance Ministry as State debts.
The existence of such a letter is mentioned in a letter from the Justice Minister O. Lavrynovych on 24 June 2011.
Since 24 October 2011 the Finance Ministry has three times refused to provide Ukrainska Pravda with a copy of this letter, claiming that it does not have the original since it was sent to the Cabinet of Ministers. Ukrainska Pravda has repeatedly asked only for a copy of the letter.
Meanwhile the Cabinet of Ministers has also refused to provide a copy of the letter claiming that the holder of the information (as per the Public Information Act – translator) is the Finance Ministry.
The civil suit was filed on 21 December 2011.
The Finance Ministry in its response to the claim asserts that from the moment when they received the letter in question, the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers became its holder.
It also asserted at the preliminary hearing on 18 January that five days earlier it had received information from the SBU [Security Service] that on 1 November 2011 in the course of the criminal investigation being carried out by the SBU, the letter was withdrawn and added to the criminal file and is now kept within this file.
Legal assistance is being provided for Ukrainska Pravda’s suit by the Media Law Institute.
The next hearing is scheduled for 30 January