The Landik vs. LB.ua case
On 18 July the independent and often hard-hitting website LB.ua closed access to its material, giving only photos of those it sees responsible for persecution following the Prosecutor’s decision to initiate criminal proceedings over alleged infringement of MP Landik’s privacy. The words at the time read: Ask them where LB.ua is
In an article for Telekritika, Priska Orsonno and Oksana Romanyuk from Reporters without Borders consider whether the conflict between Party of the Regions MP Volodymyr Landik and the Internet publication Levy Bereg [LB.ua] is over divulging of personal information.
As reported, on 18 July a Kyiv district prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation over alleged disclosure by LB.ua of text messages between Landik and his son who was then on remand on charges of beating up a young woman who refused his advances in early July 2011. Roman Landik fled to Russia after video footage of the assault was posted on the Internet and aroused outrage. With public anger at a peak, Landik Junior was extradited back to Ukraine. When the case finally reached the court, he was given a fairly short suspended sentence
Eight months later, his father set about getting criminal proceedings initiated against the Editor LB.ua - Sonya Koshkina [formally Ksenya Vasylenko]; Main Editor Oleh Bazar and photographer Maxim Levin
Landik Senior approached the Pechersky District Prosecutor demanding that a criminal investigation be initiated under Article 163 of the Criminal Code (breaching privacy of correspondence with respect to state or public figures). His application referred to a publication from 18 November 2011 entitled “Landik Senior saves his son through the use of technical people and “correct” commentary on websites”. On 18 November during the parliamentary vote on the parliamentary elections bill, LB.ua photographed Party of the Regions MP Volodymyr Landik texting his son in custody LB.ua said that from the content of the SMS it was clear that in order to optimize his son’s image, Landik Senior was engaging political technologists as well as journalists from the Luhansk TV company to write positive comments in the news and texts about the Landik Junior trial.
The authors of the above-mentioned article point out that protection of private life can be the issue only where information does not have recognized public significance. “Given the consideration public interest in the case of the MP’s son, the boundaries of defence cannot be as broad as demanded by [Landik].” They are in no doubt that here the public interest takes precedence. After all LB.ua had published information showing how an MP was exerting influence on the media.
Furthermore, they add, the person in question is a public figure who was photographed at his workplace. There was no intention of intruding upon his private life. The MP quite simply had no right to expect his privacy to be protected at a parliamentary session in the same way that it would be in his own home.
Summarized from the article here