Journalist Union warns of likely new attempt to criminalize libel



Oleh Nalyvaiko, Head of Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists says that they have received information that after the elections the old makeup of the Verkhovna Rada will make a second attempt to vote through amendments to the Criminal Code criminalizing libel.

Mr Nalyvaiko said that they have already begun consultations with the public, media lawyers and colleagues.  He noted that they had “many allies who have openly come out against this law” and said that since one of them was President Yanukovych, it would be the President whom they would appeal to in the first instance if another attempt were made to push through the law.

MPs voted on 2 October in favour of a resolution rescinding the libel law tabled by Party of the Regions MP Vitaly Zhuravsky which would have reintroduced criminal liability for libel / defamation.  The bill passed in its first reading on 18 September was supported by the ruling Party of the Regions in full, together with the other MPs of the ruling majority.  It aroused outrage and concentrated opposition from within Ukraine and calls to reject the move from European structures, international NGOs and others.

In fact, on the very same day that the law was rescinded, Party of the Regions MP Olena Bondarenko made it clear that they were backing off only temporarily. 

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