Don’t censor coverage of the destruction of the Bilychansk Forest!
Civic organizations who have been trying to defend the Bilychansk Forest for several years now are calling on media managers to stop putting pressure on journalists and censoring the issue. The Committee for the Defence of Bilychansk Forest has issued a statement in which it expresses concern over the situation which arose in the information agency UNIAN. As reported, there have been allegations of censorship and pressure on journalists.
“Four years have passed since the first attempts to hand Bilychansk Forest over to developers. It was thanks to the active position of heads of the media and journalists that Bilychansk Forest has to now been preserved. The information agency UNIAN on many occasions covered events linked with this problem for which we are infinitely grateful. However we don’t understand why specifically now when the issue appears the most critical and irrevocable and needs heightened attention from the public that a report on a protest in defence of the forest was taken off air, and financial sanctions were imposed on journalists. (more details here: http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1351362699 )
The Committee points out that on 23 October the public learned about the ruling of the High Administrative Court from 9 October which revoked a previous ruling from the Kyiv Court of Appeal and effectively handed the entire forest area over to the authorities of the small town Kotsyubynske. Thus, four thousand hectares of recreational territory has been taken from Kyiv residents to place in private property.
Therefore on 26 October outside the President’s Administration, members of the public demanded protection for the forest, for the signing of the decree promised by the Head of State on granting this territory the status of a national nature park. The activists handed over for the President 2 thousand signatures in addition to the 12 thousand already submitted. They also brought a symbolic workman’s shoe from an uprooted fir tree which symbolized the need to protect the forest from developers. The protest was intended to draw the attention of the President and public as a whole to this crucial issue. The Committee stresses that the protest was of an entirely apolitical nature. It calls on journalists and media management to support civic organizations which are trying to protect the forest.