Several leading Ukrainian news media organizations are protesting against the potential redefinition and criminalization of libel.  A black banner has gone up on a number of websites, including the Kyiv Post,  Ukrainska Pravda,  Korrespondent,,  LigaBusinessInform,  UkraNews, Telekritika and others.

As reported, a new draft law which would criminalizes libel or defamation has already passed its first reading in parliament, receiving the votes of the ruling majority (the Party of the Regions, Communists and the People's Party of Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn). The protest banner has a link to the names and contacts of all of the deputies who voted for the law.

“Call their office, write them an email and ask why they did it, ” the banner suggests. It also contains a link to the code for those who want to install the same banner on their sites in Ukrainian, Russian and English.

Kyiv Post notes that the new draft bill was submitted by pro-presidential Party of the Regions deputy Vitaliy Zhuravsky, who recently told the press that the law is needed to rein in journalists ahead of the Oct. 28 parliamentary election.

Should the law pass the second reading and get signed by the president, journalists can face up to five years in prison for libel and defamation. Journalists fear that severe sanctions will kill freedom of speech in the country as reporters will be practicing self-censorship more than ever. Moreover, the law can potentially affect any citizen of Ukraine who expresses a critical opinion about state officials.

A open Facebook group has been started against this law. Click here to join.

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