UNIAN editors give examples of censorship, taboo subjects and more


Six editors from the UNIAN website have addressed an open letter to the UNIAN General Director in which they give examples of censorship by management.

They say that management has banned negative coverage of President Yanukovych’s activities. It also forced them during the election period to give coverage to the leader of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko and to one of the candidates in single-mandate electoral district No. 218.

The editors assert that they have received letters from Mykola Kondratenko, head of the Internet projects department where he gives direct instructions to “follow the activities of the Communist Party and the leader of the proletariat, and pay close attention to their news.”  The coverage referred to is of Symonenko’s trips around the regions during the election period.

With respect to the candidate from electoral district No. 218, they say that in October alone they posted 37 of his commentaries.

They also allege that the names of three opposition single-mandate electoral district candidates (Doniy; Aryev and Bryhynets) were taboo on the website.

Several examples are provided of news items removed on the instruction of Kondratenko who, the authors say, agreed this with Osadchy:  “The opposition reports the appearance of a fake interview with Turchynov”; “The Party of the Regions’ interests in district electoral commissions will be represented by 13 out of the 18 members”, and others.

The editors say that they were stopped from covering the events at the World Newspaper Congress (held in Kyiv) when colleagues from Ukrainska Pravda were assaulted, and assert that Osadchy himself placed a taboo on the subject of the journalist protest action (they stood up when Yanukovych began his opening address with placards about censorship in Ukraine – translator).

The statement is signed by the Senior Site Editor Lyubov Zhalovaha and editors Oleksandr Volynsky; Valentina Romanenko; Natalia Ovdiyenko; Roman Romanyuk and Natalia Nehrei.

As reported, in a statement released on 25 October five of the same editors wrote that Osadchy had told two editors – Lyubov Zhalovaha and Valentina Romanenko – that on the basis of an official note from the head of the UNIAN Internet project Mykola Kondratenko each was to be fined 200 UAH (roughly 20 EUR) for posting a news story.  This was preceded by an order to remove the news item about a picket outside the President’s Administration in defence of the Bilichansk Forest.  They assert that the conversation with Kondratenko and Osadchy boiled down to the question: “Why are you getting at Yanukovych?”

They write that after our statement indicating that we intended to make public the content of the conversation and of cases of censorship on the site, the management, sensing the consequences for them, at first retreated, then began resorting to blackmail”

“We were aware that with the change of management the rules of play would also change, however tried as much as we could to maintain the face of the site in the hope that the situation was temporary and of better times. We hope that with this statement we are doing precisely that – bringing better times closer”.

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