Apparent compromise in the UNIAN dispute


The Chief Editor of the UNIAN information agency, Oleksandr Kharchenko whose removal from the post last week led to protest from UNIAN staff and accusations of censorship, is to be appointed president of the agency. According to the current president, Oleh Nalyvaiko, this was agreed at a meeting with the UNIAN staff on 18 May.  Nalyvaiko said that Kharchenko would be the guarantor of freedom of speech which existed and will remain in UNIAN. 

At the present time Oleksandr Kharchenko remains the Chief Editor since the order regarding his removal has been suspended.

As reported, there was protest last week at the news that Oleksandr Kharchenko was being replaced, and accusations of cases of censorship by the new management.

Members of the UNIAN employees’ union said that the removal was in breach of labour legislation and that they considered the new changes to be 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.

The UNIAN staff were adamant that Kharchenko was the only one who could stand up to the new management who were trying to make the UNIAN site less hard-hitting, more loyal to those in power.  They believed this to be the reason for the staffing changes and stated that they were in labour dispute with the new management.

New information reported by Telekritika

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