IFJ and EFJ Demand End to Pressure on Journalists in Ukraine
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organisation, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have demanded that the Ukraine President put end to the prosecution of online newspaper LB.ua and channel TVi that were started this month.
A criminal case has been launched against LB.ua for publishing images of the politician Volodymyr Landik’s SMS-correspondence in November 2011. Meanwhile TVi Director Mykola Knyazhytskyy has been charged with non-payment of taxes following the confiscation of financial documents by tax inspectors.
"We are very concerned about these latest prosecutions against media particularly in the build up to Parliamentary Elections this October, " said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. "This looks like part of a familiar pattern of using the courts to intimidate media during an election campaign."
The SMS correspondence of Landik revealed an attempt by him to force the Irta-Fax Information Agency to publish ‘corrected’ reports concerning an incident in which his son allegedly assaulted a woman. Despite Landik withdrawing his complaint following protests by the IFJ’s affiliate, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, the prosecutor’s office has continued to pursue the case, leading to the criminal charges against LB.ua being formally issued in 18th July.
Meanwhile the raid on TVi’s finance records took place despite the decision by the State tax administration that forbids the inspection of media until after the elections are concluded.
The IFJ’s two affiliated unions, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) issued a joint statement condemning these prosecutions which the unions called a threat to the existence of independent media in Ukraine.
"After a period of progress, press freedom has been on the back foot in recent years in Ukraine, " said Arne König, EFJ President. "We fully endorse NUJU and IMTUU’s demands that President Yanukovych takes responsibility for this deterioration and acts now to save Ukraine’s independent journalism.