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15.08.2013

Express Newspaper accuses tax authorities of pressure

   

The largest Ukrainian-language newspaper in Ukraine (according to its own website), Express, alleges that the tax authorities have blocked its work. They report that since late Tuesday afternoon the work of six enterprises which are involved in preparation and publication of Express have been paralyzed.  

On Wednesday several dozen journalists from the paper held a protest and gave the Tax Administration a 48-hour ultimatum from 12.00 on Wednesday to stop action aimed at blocking the paper.  If their demands are not met, they reserve the right to use all measures guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights agreements to defend their rights. 

The Director of Express Group, Andriy Bell says that they faced a similar situation from 1 to 15 May this year. He asserts that the tax inspectors claimed at first to be acting lawfully, but soon acknowledged that they had no grounds for blocking the business.  On 16 May they left without giving any explanation.

“The situation is repeated today. However now no officials from the Ministry of Income can explain anything, and therefore our assessment of the situation is very simple. The actions of Klymenko’s ministry are a new, deliberate and unconstrained by law or morality attempt to put pressure on the editorial office of the newspapers which we publish”.

The Chief Editor, Ihor Pochynok believes that the reason for this sudden visitation from the tax inspectors could be that “our publications, and in particular, the Express newspaper, categorically refused to publish advertising material for Arbuzov and Vilkul which have recently swamped the information realm and praise those officials. Or perhaps somebody didn’t like the sharp criticism of the Party of the Regions in articles which we’ve published in several recent issues?”  He says that the reasons may be banal, but since they see no logic to the actions, they do not exclude the possibility that they’re linked with a nervous reaction from some high-ranking official.

In material on its site about the tax inspections, Express cites well-known public figures Yevhen Sverstyuk and Myroslav Popovych who express concern over pressure on the publications.

The Tax Administration has denied that their actions are blocking the newspaper’s work.

Express has been in the limelight many times over the last three years.

In January this year a listening device was found in the home of Taras Zozulinsky who has exposed corrupt dealings linked with both Yanukovych and Azarov.  Journalists announced soon afterwards that they were suspending any cooperation with the police over the matter. They accused the police of “mere imitation of an investigation”. “We are also not sure that by cooperating with the police we will not in the end help them to simply return the listening device to the people who illegally planted it”/

The statement issued then said that the newspaper had other grounds for distrusting the police, including the fact that a repeat examination of the newspaper’s windows which were shot at with rubber bullets had still not been completed after over a year.  The police hadsupposedly been carrying out an investigation into other cases of pressure on the newspaper for several years now.  The statement also asserted that the newspaper had irrefutable proof that the Security Service and law enforcement bodies had been interfering in the newspaper’s work.

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