Conflict and allegations of censorship in UNIAN information agency
The staff of the UNIAN information agency are demanding the reinstatement of Chief Editor Oleksandr Kharchenko and speak of cases of censorship by the new management.
Members of the UNIAN employees’ union believe that Khachenko’s replacement by Mykola Hannytsky and move to the post of Main Editor of the agency site is in breach of labour legislation. And also say they view the changes as an assault on freedom of speech.
As an example of censorship, they cited the instruction from the (new) Deputy Chief Editor of the site, Mykola Kondratenko, on 12 May to remove information from the website that “Akhmetov banned joining the Party of the Regions at his enterprises”.
On 5 May the same Deputy Chief Editor tried to remove a publication under the headline: “Is the Party of the Regions sharpening its fangs against Poroshenko?”, claiming the material was commissioned. He backed off only after a heated argument with Oleksandr Kharchenko and demand that the latter sign a statement that the material was not commissioned.
At a planning meeting on 27 April the site came under criticism from the UNIAN General Director for supposedly having too much about Yulia Tymoshenko’s alleged beating.
The staff say that the new Chief Editor banned them from giving the other side to the conflict on 17 May.
They say that “Kharchenko was the only one who could stand up to the new management in their attempts to make the UNIAN site less hard-hitting, more loyal to those in power. We consider that this is the reason he’s been “removed””
They declare that they are in labour dispute with the new management.
They also demand the creation of a commission to resolve the issue with Kharchenko and a meeting with the UNIAN shareholders.
They turn to the National Union of Journalists, the Independent Media Trade Union and other structures defending freedom of speech to help in revolving this conflict.
UNIAN is part of the media holding of Ihor Kolomoisky together with TV 1 + ) and some other channels, the websites TCH.ua, Glavred and Telekritika.