Ukraine’s freedom of speech rating without distortion


  Oksana Romanyuk, representative of Reporters without Borders in Ukraine has responded to the claim made by Denis Ivanescu, Head of the Public Information Department of the President’s Administration that the movement Stop Censorship is ignoring a supposed improvement in the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine.

Ms Romanyuk accuses Denis Ivanescu of not just ignoring, but also of distorting facts.

She explains that “iIn 2010 Ukraine fell in Reporters without Borders rating from 89th place to 131st. This breathtaking drop was the result of a sharp reduction in freedom of speech which began after Viktor Yanukovych came to power. A small improvement in Ukraine’s rating in 2011 to 116th place was due to the fact that in 2010 a journalist – Vasyl Klymentyev – had been killed, and fortunately in 2011 there were no killings of journalists linked with their professional activities.

The other reason was a reduction in freedom of speech in other countries. After all the rating is first of all a comparison between different countries, whereas in Ukraine taken alone the situation with freedom of speech continued to deteriorate.

We made several statements with explanations to this effect however that clearly passed Mr Ivanescu by.  [She provides links to two of the relevant statements.]

As far as 2012 is concerned, we have observed a sharp reduction in freedom of speech. Over all of 2011 there were 24 attacks on journalists, in 2010 – 21.  In the first 8 months of 2012 there were already 40. Out of national TV channels 8 do not provide objective information, avoid topics and do not criticize the government. According to Telekritika monitoring, since the beginning of 2012 censorship on those channels has increased by 30% and is continuing to rise. A broad range of topics are muffled from socio-economic issues, protests, criticism of the government, the fall in the standard of living to international events. There is virtually no media market in Ukraine. From 2015 regional broadcasters will be deprived of land-based broadcasting because of corrupt division of frequencies in the digital multiplex.

The Gongadze case is being heard behind closed doors. There is no progress in established who ordered the killings of either Gongadze or Alexandrov.

Media pluralism is under the greatest threat in all the years of independence. At this very moment throughout Ukraine the TV channel TVi which criticizes the government is being cut off.

If the President’s Administration sees an improvement in this, we don’t.  It is already possible to predict a further fall in Ukraine’s place in international ratings.” She ends by saying that Ivanescu can make as many fine-sounding assurances as he likes, but they won’t hide the facts which point to a continuing reduction in freedom of speech in Ukraine. 

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