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№06
2003

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine

General data

08.04.2004

Are the mass media of the Lugansk oblast independent?

   

This year the Lugansk public committee for human rights protection conducts the investigation of the level of freedom of local newspapers. The investigation is conducted in the framework of the project “Consulting and informing peasants through district newspapers” and is financially supported by National Endowment for Democracy and Foundation of the development of Ukrainian mass media at the USA Embassy, Kyiv.

We have already disclosed some problems, the existence of which may be interpreted as the almost complete dependence of district newspapers on local power organs.

This dependence has the political and economic character: after the election-2002 the systematic process of replacing the owners of the newspapers began in the oblast. Before this the newspapers were founded, as a rule, by journalists (journalists’ collectives) or editorial collectives and district councils. This year (in fact, the process began in autumn of the last year), according to the decision of the local councils, the journalists’ collectives were removed from the composition of founders of eight out of seventeen district newspapers. In four of these newspapers the place of journalists was occupied by state administrations:

Newspaper

District

Founder

1

“Slavianoserbskie Visti”

Slavianoserbskiy

District council

2

“Visti Bilovodshchiny”

Belovodskiy

District council

3

“Slovo khliboroba”

Melovskoy

District council

4

“Radianske slovo”

Markovskiy

District council

5

“Peremoga”

Novopskovskiy

District council and administration

6

“Vestnik Novoaydarshchiny”

Novoaydarskiy

District council and administration

7

“Popasnianskiy vestnik ”

Popasnianskiy

District council and administration

8

“Trudovaya slava”

Lutuginskiy

District council and administration

Most probably this tendency will result in the complete estrangement of journalists from the ownership of newspapers and absolute economic dependence of journalists’ collectives on district administration.

During the monitoring of local newspapers it appeared that the majority of the newspapers work not for readers, but for administration: they contain the information pleasant for the authorities, but almost do not write about the urgent problems of the districts, such as the violations of property rights in the course the agrarian reform. This is the reason of scanty runs: 3-5 thousands.

The committee concluded the agreements with the editors of two district newspapers (“Antratsitovskiy vestnik” and “Vestnik Novoaydarshchiny”) about the creation of the consulting centers at the editorial boards. The editors were summoned to the administration. They got the “recommendations” not to cooperate with the committee, since this project was allegedly financed by the political opposition (!). The representatives of Novoaydarskiy district administration insistently inquired me about my political orientation, they asked “for whom I had been working” during the previous election campaign, and who financed the committee now.

The reason of this situation is trivial: numerous violations of the rights, especially in the property sphere, must not, in the interests of the corrupted bureaucrats, be elucidated by the newspapers and discussed by public.

Under such conditions of censorship (or self-censorship) and the absence of freedom the protest reactions are inevitable, either in the form of delitescent conflict or in the open form. For example, for more than a year one of the courts considers the claim of V. Poydin, the editor of the Novopskovsk newspaper “Peremoga” against the district administration in the connection with the illegal persecutions after the publication of an article criticizing the district authorities for corruption.

Nikolay Kozyrev, the Chairman of the board of the Public committee for protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, Lugansk

General data

08.04.2004

Statistics of Ukrainian censorship

   

According to the data of the Institute of mass information, from 1996 to 2002 the indirect censorship in Ukraine was most often practiced by the following state agencies:  tax organs (14 cases), prosecutor’s offices (15 cases), local administrations (20 cases), militia (21 cases) and organs of judicial power (22 cases).

Sometimes the inadequate actions concerning the freedom of speech were realized by such allegedly apolitical institutions as state publishing houses and fire inspection.

The overwhelming majority of the cases of physical pressure, attacks, intimidation and murders were committed by “strangers”.

In the end of 2002 the experts of the Council of Europe stated that the licensing of the activities of mass media “is not sufficiently transparent”, and that the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting “has not the sufficient guarantees for independent activities”.

According to the data of the Fund of the protection of glasnost, 70% of the claims on the protection of honor and dignity are obviously lacking in conscientiousness and are directed, first of all, for the suppression of the freedom of speech. On the basis of these data ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva declared that the main principle of the court practice concerning the mass media was the protection of reputation of some persons, but not the protection of the freedom of speech and opinions, and that this principle contradicted the European practices.

(«Demokratichna Ukraina», No. 34, 6 May 2003)

General data

08.04.2004

Statistics of the attacks on the workers of mass media

   

During last year the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine received 132 messages about the incidents connected with the workers of mass media, 88 criminal cases were started on these incidents. Mikhail Kornienko, the first deputy of the State secretary of the Ministry of Interior, said at the sitting of the round table “The observance of human rights in Ukraine: international assessment” that 72% of the crimes against mass media workers were connected with the illegal encroachments on their property and 12% -- with hooliganism. Besides, M. Kornienko informed that militia finished the investigation of the premeditated crime of Vladimir Provorotskiy, an announcer of the Sumy oblast radio, committed last year. Three local inhabitants were detained, who organized the attack “with the aim to take the property of the victim”.

By the information of the UNIAN, M. Kornienko told that six journalists were murdered during the existence of the independent Ukrainian state, and “the majority of these crimes were disclosed”.

(«Fakty», No. 105, 13 June 2003)

General data

08.04.2004

Statistics of claims against mass media in the Lugansk oblast

   

Some statistics. In 2002 there were 269 claims on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation in the courts of the Lugansk oblast, 203 of them were handed in 2002. During that year 188 cases were considered, among them 31 were rejected, 56 were closed (i.e. the demands were not satisfied); the decisions were issued on 92 claims, 69 of them were satisfied. The greatest number of such cases was considered in the Leninskiy and Zhovtnevy courts of Lugansk and in the Stakhanov town court.

The total sum of moral and material compensations demanded in the claims was 2,089,077 hryvnas, and 42,514 hryvnas must be paid according to the court decisions.

49 claims on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation were brought against mass media, 31 of them were handed in 2002. 35 cases were considered during the year, 12 were rejected, 6 were closed; the decisions were issued on 17 claims, 14 were satisfied. Leninskiy district court of Lugansk considered 25 cases, Brianka town court – 7 cases, Krasnodon town court – 7 cases, Zhovtnevy district court of Lugansk – 6 cases, Stakhanov town court – 2 cases, Lutuginskiy district court – 1 case and Popasninaskiy district court – 1 case.

The total demanded recompensing sum was 1, 627,704 UAH the court obliged the defendants to pay 4039 UAH. Thus, the total sum that must be paid according to the decisions of Leninskiy district court of Lugansk equals to 1717 hryvnas out of the total demanded sum of 530500 hryvnas; the corresponding numbers for other courts are: Brianka town court --- 471 out of 7000, Krasnodon town court – 630 out of 80000, Lutuginskiy district court – 1017 out of 10000, Stakhanov town court – 204 out of 204.

So, the oblast mass media permanently stay in the field of social tension generated by the conflict of interests, more often the interests of bureaucrats and citizens, who try to defend their legal rights and interests through publications on the newspapers. Yet, sometimes the citizens together with the newspapers, become the victims of the illegal court repressions.

The above statement may be confirmed by the scandalous case Medianik vs. Lugansk newspaper “Rakurs plus”, when Medianik, a businessman and a deputy of the town council, demanded to recompense the moral damage (100 thousand hryvnas) inflicted to him by the publication in the newspaper of the voters’ critical opinions about his work (!). And the court ruined the newspaper even before the consideration of the case – it issued the decision about the arrest of all future issues of the newspaper!

Nikolay Kozyrev, the Chairman of the board of the Public committee for protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, Lugansk

General problems

08.04.2004

How to guarantee the independence of the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting in the new version of the Law of Ukraine “On the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting”?

   

One of the basic demands to the organs, which realize the regulation and licensing in the sphere of TV and radio broadcasting, is to guarantee the independence of these media. Such demands are contained both in the general recommendations of the Council of Europe and in the concrete documents concerning Ukraine. In particular, the experts of the Council of Europe, who analyzed the Ukrainian legislation on mass media, more than once pointed out that the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting (the National Council, in what follows) was extremely politicized and had no real independence.

One of the opportunities to guarantee the independence of the National Council is the creation of preconditions for such independence on the legislative level. The Supreme Rada of Ukraine have already registered the new version of the Law of Ukraine “On the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting”, which is now considered by the Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information. The principles that will be discussed below should be realized in this law.

The provisions on the appointment and dismissal of the members, on the election and authorities of the Head, on the place in the system of the power organs, on the accountability and control are the provisions that can influence the National Council directly or indirectly. Certainly, the most important of these provisions is the procedure of the appointment and dismissal of the members of the National Council. The operating system, according to which a half of the members is appointed personally by the President, and another one – by the Supreme Rada, may not be regarded as correct, since if the Supreme Rada would appoint at least one person loyal to the President, then the latter would master the majority of votes. In the most of countries the right to appoint the members of such state organs belongs only to the Parliament as a collective organ, and sometimes this right is shared among three organs in order to exclude the control by any of them. Fortunately or unfortunately, the procedure of the appointment of the members of the National Council is stipulated by the Ukrainian Constitution, so the law may not introduce any fundamentally new norms. Yet, the procedure of the dismissal of the members of the National Council must be changed cardinally.

If to read attentively item 20 of Article 85 and item 13 of Article 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine, one would notice that these articles, which stipulate the right of the President and the Supreme Rada to appoint a half of the National Council, say nothing about their right to dismiss the members appointed by them. If to analyze other provisions, which envisage the competences of the Supreme Rada and the President, it becomes clear that these norms were formulated in such manner on purpose, in order to guarantee the independence of the National Council. Most of the provisions describing the staff authorities of the President and the Supreme Rada read that the Supreme Rada have the right “to appoint and dismiss” the state officials (for example, the members of the Council of the National Bank, the General Prosecutor, the members of the Central Voting commission), but the norms concerning the members of the National Council and Constitutional Court envisage only the right to appoint, not to dismiss.

Moreover, the last item of Article 85 reads that the Supreme Rada has other authorities stipulated by the Constitution. This means that if some authorities are not envisaged by the Constitution, they may not be introduced on the level of laws. Thus, the law may not envisage the authorities of the Supreme Rada and President to dismiss the members of the National Council, since that contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine. Besides, one may draw one more conclusion: the operating law of Ukraine “On the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting” disagrees with the Constitution of Ukraine in the part, which envisages the utterance of distrust and dismissal of the members of the National Council. It is necessary to liquidate these disagreements during the preparation of the new law draft.

The impossibility, according to the Constitution, to dismiss the members of the National Council entails the introduction of some additional changes into the laws. In particular, this concerns the accountability of the National Council to the Supreme Rada and President. If the Supreme Rada and President have no right to take decisions on the basis of the results of the accounting, then the serious doubts appear as to the advisability of such accounting. In my opinion, the principle of accountability must be cancelled at all. The demand of the law about the preparation and publication of the report by the National Council is normal, but it must not be realized in the form of listening to the report at the Supreme Rada sitting. I believe that the report must be published and its copies must be passed to the Supreme Rada and President.

From the very moment of the appointment of a member of the National Council there must not be any difference whether the Supreme Rada or President appointed this member. The only case, where this difference may be defensible, is the procedure of forming the administration of the National Council, when the Head and the First Deputy may not be appointed by the same organ or person.

From the viewpoint of independence, the advisability of the demand to agree the normative acts of the National Council with the profile committee of the Supreme Rada is disputable. This demand is stated in Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On TV and radio broadcasting”. This article was regulating the activities of the National Council before the adoption of the Constitution and the separate law on the National Council, but it is still valid. I think that two approaches to the legislative activities of the National Council are possible: either the Supreme Rada distrusts the National Council and reckons that the latter cannot adopt the sublegal acts on its own, and, as a consequence, maximally regulates all relations by legal norms; or the Supreme Rada entrusts some questions to the National Council and does not demand the agreement with the profile committee. The status and legal essence of such agreement is surprising from the viewpoint of the theory of law: the National Council is a structural sub-unit of the Supreme Rada, so its independent legislative authorities look rather strange. The question on the registration of the documents in the Ministry of Justice must be solved separately. Since the National Council is not an organ of executive power, but has a special status, then it should be illogical to demand the registration of its acts.

Is it expedient to use the rotation principle? First of all, it should be noted that frequently the term “rotation” is used incorrectly: it is interpreted as a synonym of the terms “dismissal” or “utterance of distrust”. Rotation is a system, when the members of an organ are replaced not simultaneously, but gradually. This system guarantees a certain “hereditivity” of the work of the organ, since new members join to old ones and obtain the necessary experience from them. At that the members of the organ occupy their posts for the entire term. The term may be shorter only in the very first composition, because some of the members must be replaced after a half of the term in order to start the system. The rotation system is imperfectly described in the operating version of the law, and, it seems to me, it was never applied in practice. The members of the National Council were appointed at different time, so the term of their authorities did not finish simultaneously. Thus, the rotation system functions de facto and must not be additionally stipulated by law.

The grounds for terminating the authorities. The impossibility to dismiss the members of the National Council by the organs, which appointed them, does not mean their absolute irresponsibility and impunity. The law must define precisely which circumstances must result in the loss of the authorities of a member of the National Council; these circumstances must include, among all, the commitment of a crime. The grounds for the dismissal must be objective, and their application must be described in details. For example, if a member of the National Council has the right to submit his resignation or to write the appeal about his dismissal, then it should be determined, to whom the application must be handed: either to the Head of the National Council or to the entire composition of the Council. The guarantees of independence of the judges of the Constitutional Court are stipulated rather well in laws. This experience (of course, within reasonable limits) might be used during the development of the law on the National Council.

It should be also advisable to consider the possibility of increasing the term of authorities of the members of the National Council. There are at least two arguments in favor of this idea. Firstly, according to the operating system, the President of Ukraine may appoint the members of the National Council twice during one term of his work, since the term of the authorities of the President is five years, and the term of the members of the National Council is four years. If the President has the right to appoint a person for the second time, then this person may be more loyal to him. So, it should be advisable to increase the term of the authorities of the members of the National Council to five years.

Secondly, the system, in the accordance with which a member of the National Council can be appointed to his post for the second time, also does not promote the independence. For example, judges of the Constitutional Court are appointed to their posts for 9 years and may not be appointed again. If to liquidate the right for the second appointment, then it should be logical to increase the term of the authorities. Nine years is a great term, but even the term of five or six years without the right to be appointed for the second time should be also sufficient.

The problem of the authorities of the Head of the National Council is also very important. The National Council is a collective organ, so the authorities of the Head must be minimal. The majority of the questions should be solved collectively, and the role of the Head should lie in presiding at sittings, signing documents and external representation. One of the effective methods of diminishing the role of the Head is the decrease of the term of occupying this post to two years without the right to be elected again (at that the person continues to be a member of the National Council until the end of the term).

Of course, I may not affirm that the introduction of the suggested changes will be sufficient for guaranteeing the independence of the members of the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting. However, I believe that these changes are necessary for the achievement of this aim.

Taras Shevchenko, a lawyer, an expert in the rights of mass media
03 June 2003, http://imi.org.ua/

General problems

08.04.2004

Tomenko proposes to interpret some concepts of the law adopted as a result of the hearings on the freedom of speech

   

The Parliamentary Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information intends to conduct the joint sitting with the plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine for the interpretation of some concepts of the new law adopted as a result of the Parliamentary hearings on the freedom of speech in Ukraine. This information was communicated by Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, at the UNIAN press conference.

According to the information of the UNIAN correspondent, M. Tomenko remarked that after the approval of the law “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine as a result of the parliamentary hearings “Society, mass media, power: freedom of speech and censorship in Ukraine”” the judges came across the problem of interpreting the concepts introduced by this law, in particular, “evaluative judgment” and “socially important information”. M. Tomenko believes that the meaning of these concepts must be defined more precisely. Besides, he does not exclude the possibility that the committee will initiate the introduction of changes to this law with the aim of interpreting these concepts.

The UNIAN reference. On 3 April the Supreme Rada of Ukraine approved the Law “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine as a result of the parliamentary hearings “Society, mass media, power: freedom of speech and censorship in Ukraine””. This law introduced the changes to some legal acts connected with the questions of guaranteeing and unhampered realization of the citizens’ right for the freedom of speech.

According to this law, nobody may be brought to responsibility for expressing the evaluative judgments. The law reads that the evaluative judgments (except insult or libel) are the judgments that does not contain factual data, in particular, criticism, evaluation of actions and the statements, which may not be interpreted as ones that contain factual data taking into account the use of special turns of speech, such as hyperboles, allegories or satire. The evaluative judgments must not be refuted, and their authenticity must not be proved.

A person is released from responsibility for divulging the information with the restricted access, if a court would acknowledge that this information is socially important.

9 June 2003, UNIAN, http://www.unian.net/ukr/news/free/

General problems

08.04.2004

H. Severinsen is not satisfied with the application of the laws directed towards the improvement of the situation with the Ukrainian mass media

   

The application of the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws directed towards the practical improvement of the situation with the Ukrainian mass media is extremely unsatisfactory, stated deputy of the Danish Parliament Hanne Severinsen, a reporter of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Ukraine, in her appeal to the Institute of mass information and the Forum of journalists “Legal self-protection”, which was conducted yesterday in Kyiv.

According to IMI information, H. Severinsen pointed out that “the General Prosecutor’s office very rarely investigates the facts of exerting pressure on journalists”, and “it seems that it became a rule, when the matter concerns the journalists, who criticize the power, or the mass media, who publish the agitation for some politicians”. By the words of H. Severinsen, the illegal inspections are conducted in these mass media: tax, sanitary, fire, etc. Sometimes the mass media are forced to stop their activities or to change the editorial policy as a result of such inspections. “The censorship is prohibited, but the self-censorship continues to exist”, stated the PACE reporter and recommended to read the Human Rights Watch report “News: the haggling is possible” devoted to this topic.

H. Severinsen believes that there also exists the problem of the lack of transparency of the legislative system. “Why you are afraid of various checks? An innocent person must not be afraid of anything. Yet, the Ukrainian journalists are afraid, because the legislative system is non-transparent”, she remarked.

H. Severinsen pointed out that the Supreme Rada improved the level of realizing the obligations, which were taken by Ukraine when joining the Council of Europe. Yet, there are still many things that must be done, and the special attention must be paid to the development and application of the laws by the power organs.

H. Severinsen is sure that the discussion around “temniks”, which is lasting during the last half a year, evidences the deterioration of the situation, but, at the same time, this discussion is a positive feature showing that the journalists begin to comprehend the situation.

Hanne Severinsen wished good luck to the new professional union of journalists. “I hope that the journalists of Ukraine are aware of their responsibility in the consolidation of democracy. They represent the fourth power, so they play an important role in the development of the freedom and democracy in the country. Ukraine needs a great number of brave journalists, who will be able to describe objectively the coming Presidential election”, she said.

The PACE reporter reminded that the Council of Europe will discuss the situation in Ukraine at its September session, in particular, “the problem of media environment”.

H. Severinsen expressed the hope that the discussion would result in the continuation of the monitoring and they would “be able to scrutinize the periods before, during and after the election”.

11 June 2003, http://www.unian.net

Mass media and election

08.04.2004

During the election of Zaporozhye mayor the town TV channels gave preference to one candidate

   

Every hour during the day of election the radio stations “Nostalzhi” (FM 107.5) and “Velikiy Lug” (FM 101.8) transmitted the information about the course of voting with the comments of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine. All in all, 16 messages from the Zaporozhye VCU were transmitted by these radio stations during the day.

On the day of election Denis Piatigorets, the press secretary of the Zaporozhye VCU, and Oleksiy Koshel, a deputy head of the administration of the VCU, gave the interviews to the TV channel “Novy kanal”, to informational agencies UNIAN and “Interfax”, and to the newspaper “Region-Ekspress”.

On 9 June the representatives of the Zaporozhye VCU gave the interviews, in which they commented the results of the election and the independent observation, to the following mass media:

TV companies: “Novy kanal”, “1+1”, “Inter”, “STB”, Zaporozhye oblast state TV company.

Radio companies: “Nostalzhi”, “Velikiy Lug” + the 15-minute interview for “Gromadske radio” and “Radio tri”.

Internet-editions: “Forum”, “UNIAN”, “Interfax”, “Internews”, “Politichna Ukraina”.

Newspapers: “Segodnia”.

The results of the observation by the VCU representatives of the preparation and course of the election campaign and the voting confirmed that the campaign for the election of the Zaporozhye mayor did not give to candidates the equal opportunities of the access to mass media and the conduction of pre-election struggle; it was accompanied with the pressure on the voters and subjects of the election process, mass and cynical use of “administrative resource”. Here the appeal of Evhen Kartashov, the candidate to the mayor’s post, should be noted: he stated that the complete democracy and the freedom of speech existed in Zaporozhye and said: “Why the TV channel “TV-5” shows only me? Maybe, this is their style of work”.

According to the results of the election of the Zaporozhye mayor, which took place on 8 June 2003, the mayor’s post was occupied by Zaporozhye governor E. Kartashov.

During the election campaign the TV channels “TV-5” and “Zaporizhzhia” elucidated the activities of E. Kartashov only. The materials were issued for several times in every block of news. No other candidates were shown. Moreover, “TV-5” officially refused to candidate Volodymir Kaltsev, who even proposed to pay money for the broadcasting of his speech at this channel. The only TV company, which elucidated the activities of other candidates, was the TRC “Aleks”. Yet, five days before the election “Aleks” began to refuse the air to all other subjects of the election process except governor Kartashov.

The above-mentioned phrase of E. Kartashov, which was pronounced on the eve of the election, looks rather cynical on this background.

The mayor’s election in Zaporozhye proved once more than the freedom of speech in the oblast is a very relative concept, which may be explained only by the power!

11 June 2003, the Zaporozhye oblast branch of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine

Persecutions, pressure, intimidation, etc. because of political motives

08.04.2004

The press service of the militia directorate of the Vinnitsa oblast illegally deprived a journalist of accreditation

   

The press service of the militia directorate of the Vinnitsa oblast deprived of accreditation Oksana Pustovit, a journalist of the newspaper “33 kanal”, because of her manner of elucidating the course of investigation of the case on the explosions in town route taxis.

The Khmilnyk human rights protection group
of the Podilsk center of human rights (Khmilnyk)

Persecutions, pressure, intimidation, etc. because of political motives

08.04.2004

Editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Rzhyshchiv” (The Kyiv oblast) was dismissed

   

23 June 2003. The Green Party of Ukraine sent letters to Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary Committee in charge of the freedom of speech, Igor Liubchenko, the head of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine, and Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of President’s Administration, with the demand to restore Oleg Predanchenko on the post of the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Rzhyshchiv”.

On 12 May 2003 Oleg Predanchenko, the editor-in-chief of Rzhyshchiv town social and political newspaper “Rzhyshchiv” and the head of the local organization of the Green Party of Ukraine, was dismissed from his post. According to Predanchenko’s words, he was fired after the sitting of the round table, at which various political forces discussed the political reform proposed by the President. Oleg Predanchenko communicated that he, being the head of the local organization of the Green Party, expressed the position of the party, which appeared to be very unpleasant for other participants. “After the round table I was summoned to the mayor, who said that I could not head the town newspaper, since my views were different from the views of the local power”, told Predanchenko. In his speech concerning the attitude to the political reform, the head of the local organization of the Green Party told that the party protested against the division of the Parliament into the Chamber of regions and the State gatherings, increase of the term of deputies’ authorities to 5 years, decrease of the number of MPs, dissolution of Parliament by the President in the case of non-approval of state budget, the adoption of laws by referendums. Sergey Kurikin, the head of the political council of the Green party, called this situation “the brutal violation of the professional rights of a journalist and persecution because of political reasons”.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

***

Editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Rzhyshchiv” Oleg Predanchenko was forced to leave his work, since his position on the political reform disagreed with the “official tack” of the local power. He told about this at a press conference. Predanchenko explained that on 4 April he took part in the sitting of the round table devoted to the political reform. Being the head of the Rzhyshchiv town organization of the Green Party, he expressed the position of the party on this question. The journalist says that his speech provoked the inadequate reaction of the organizers. In particular, Alla Khrimenko, the manager of the town executive committee, who chaired the round table, stated that he had no right for the position that disagreed with the “official tack”, since he was the editor-in-chief of the town newspaper. On 7 April O. Predanchenko was summoned to Rzhyshchiv mayor Mykola Spychak. The mayor said that Predanchenko could not occupy the post of the editor of the town newspaper, since he did not share the political views published in the newspaper by the local power. On 12 May O. Predanchenko was summoned to the mayor again, and after this he was forced to hand the appeal about the dismissal from the post of the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Rzhyshchiv”.

(«Silski visti», No. 73, 26 June 2003)

Persecutions, pressure, intimidation, etc. because of political motives

08.04.2004

Check of libraries by D. Tabachnik’s commission

   

Mykola Tomenko, the Head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, insists on the necessity of checking the facts of the violations of laws during the acquisition of library funds, in particular, with the opposition printed mass media. The Supreme Rada endorsed Tomenko’s request to General Prosecutor Sviatoslav Piskun and Prime-Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Tomenko suspects that the workers of the libraries got the orders concerning the subscription to the periodicals, and this was a brutal violation of the norms of the Constitution and other Ukrainian laws.

A number of libraries were checked at the beginning of this year by the special commission headed by Dmytro Tabachnik. The commission acted on the basis of President’s Order of 31 October 2002 on the commission for the complex check of the funds of libraries, archives and museums of Ukraine.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 108, 18 June 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attack on the house of the editor-in-chief of the district newspaper “Chorna gora” (Vinogradov, the Zakarpatska oblast)

   

In the town of Vinogradov, the Zakarpatska oblast, the attack was committed on the house of Volodymir Mocharnik, the editor-in-chief of the district newspaper “Chorna gora”.

In the early hours of the morning the criminals broke the window by a stone and threw a jar with gas and a strange cardboard box into the room. The jar did not explode by a miracle: it was not damaged.

The special squad of the Vinogradov militia precinct started the investigation of this incident. Now the militiamen consider several versions of the reasons of the attack. One of the versions is the reaction to the recent publications in the district newspaper of the critical materials about the officials of the district state administration and the top officers of law-enforcing structures.

Yaroslav Frindak, after the materials of the Zakarpatska oblast branch
of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attempt of arson of the car of editor-in-chief of “Novyny Zakarpattia”

   

On 4 June in Uzhgorod, near the building of the Zakarpatska oblast state administration, some volatile flammable liquid was poured over the car of Vasyl Nitka, the editor-in-chief of the oblast newspaper “Novyny Zakarpattia”.

According to the unchecked data, somebody prevented the attempt of arson and did not allow to the criminal to finish his work. Now the incident is investigated by the 6th department of the oblast militia directorate and by Uzhgorod militia precinct.

Yaroslav Frindak, Uzhgorod

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

The investigation of the attack on Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy (the Kyiv oblast)

   

The investigation of the attack on Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy (the Kyiv oblast)

23 June 2003. The Institute of mass information turned to Mr. Gaysinskiy, the prosecutor of the Kyiv oblast, with the request about the investigation of the case started after the attack on Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy, a journalist of the newspaper “Dilovy Pereyaslav”. The materials concerning the attack on the journalist were passed by the IMI to the General Prosecutor’s office. By the opinion of Svetlana Pomoynitska, the wife of the victim, the investigation of the case is reaching a deadlock. The militiamen behave discourteously during the interrogations, searches and checking the versions. The contents of the interrogations and the ODA as a whole are actively discussed in the town. This confirms that the militiamen divulge the details of the pre-trial investigation. In the complaint addressed to the prosecutor of the Kyiv oblast S. Pomoynitska described the offences committed by the law-enforcers during the month that passed since the attack on her husband. As it became known to the IMI from its sources in the prosecutor’s office, today the investigation has two versions: the attack was ordered either by the competitors in business or by mass media-competitors. We want to remind that the incident happened on 26 May about 8 a.m. not far from the house of Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy. In the presence of many witnesses two strangers attacked the journalist and began to beat him with clubs wrapped in newspapers. Journalist’s wife Svetlana tells that the witnesses saw how the attackers got into a blue “Opel”, which was waiting for them near the place of crime. She believes that this fact confirms that the attack was thoroughly planned. Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy was taken to a hospital with cranium trauma and numerous haematomas. S. Pomoynitska informs that the state of her husband remains, according to the words of doctors, “serious and stable”. The case was started after Article 121 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (premeditated serious bodily injuries).

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attack on Yuri Iliuchenko (Kirovograd)

   

 25 June 2003. In early hours of the morning of 25 June Yuri Iliuchenko, a sports reporter of the weekly “Ukraina-Tsentr”, was beaten and robbed near his house in Kirovograd.

Efim Marmer, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, informed that the journalist was returning from the business trip, from Kyiv, where he went together with the soccer team “Zirka” (Kirovograd). The team bus took the journalist almost to the house, but in the doorway he was attacked by strangers, who hit him on the head and knocked him down. The attackers took his handbag with dictaphone, purse and documents. Doctors diagnosed the cerebral brain concussion of medium degree, fracture of leg, numerous injuries, haematomas on face and chest. A criminal case was started after the fact of the attack, the investigation is controlled by major-general Stanislav Nikitenko, the head of the militia directorate of the Kirovograd oblast. Editor of “Ukraina-Tsentr” Efim Marmer believes that the incident was merely criminal.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

The attempt of arson of the flat of Oles Buzina (Kyiv)

   

25 June 2003. In the night of 25 June in Kyiv some strangers tried to commit the arson of the flat of Oles Buzina, a journalist of the newspaper “Kievskie vedomosti”. Owing to the quick reaction of Buzina and the help of neighbors, the fire was extinguished. Only the front door was partially burned. In the opinion of militia, the criminals poured some paint on the door and set fire to it. The journalist believes that the arson was connected with his professional activities, since at the last trial against “Prosvita” in the appeal court he heard the undisguised threats concerning him. Oles Buzina had been attacked by extremists after the publication in the newspaper “Kievskie vedomosti” of excerpts from the book “Vampire Taras Shevchenko”. The editorial board reminded that on 26 June there would be the four-year anniversary of the newspaper publication of Buzina’s research about Shevchenko. On 25 June the Shevchenkivskiy district militia directorate of Kyiv started a criminal case according to Article 194 part 2 – premeditative destruction or damage of property by arson.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attack on Vladimir Belov (Dnepropetrovsk)

   

Vladimir Belov, a 32-year-old correspondent of the public-political newspaper “Nasha zemlia” (Dnepropetrovsk), was attacked at home and taken to the local hospital with 15 knife wounds. The investigation of the crime is carried out.

(«Segodnia», No. 129, 12 June 2003)

***

The edition “Litsa”, where Vladimir Belov also works, is regarded in region as a radically oppositional newspaper, the activities of which are directed against the present state power. Oksana Zarayska, a representative of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the Union of journalists, believes that there were no grounds for the political persecution of the journalist.

(«Ukraina moloda », No. 105, 12 June 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Robbery of K. Yanovskiy and I. Grach (Zhytomir)

   

On the Day of Journalists Konstantin Yanovskiy, the senior director of the Zhytomir TV and radio company, and announcer Irina Grach underwent the attack committed by two strangers. The criminals knocked the journalists down, and took their cell phones, money and car keys. Militiamen doubt that it was a political action.

(«Segodnia», No. 130, 13 June 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

The investigation of the disappearance of Aleksandr Panich, a journalist of the newspaper “Donetskie novosti”, is finished

   

Some fragments of dismembered body of the journalist were find in Kalmius river on 11 June, informed Donetsk prosecutor Aleksandr Olmezov.  The 36-year-old journalist of the weekly disappeared on 17 November 2002. The prosecutor told that the investigation proved: Panich was murdered by his friends during a simple quarrel. The murderers, two young men having no permanent job, were detained in the Cherkassy oblast. According to the words of the Donetsk prosecutor, a quarrel occurred between the victim and the suspected. As a result, Panich got several blows in the head with a hammer. Next day his body was cut to pieces and thrown to the river.

(«Segodnia», No. 132, 17 June 2003)

***

Aleksandr Olmezov told that during the investigation more than 200 witnesses were interrogated, 70 searches and 10 expertises were conducted. After this two suspected were detained and soon they showed the place, where they hide the body of their victim.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 108, 18 June 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attempt on the life of the editor of the newspaper “Tikhiy zhakh” (The appeal of the Poltava media club)

   

Today, on 17 June 2003, at 2 a.m. the attempt on the life of the family of Vasyl Koriak, the editor of the newspaper “Tikhiy zhakh”, was committed. V. Koriak is the author of a series of critical articles about Poltava governor E. Tomin that were published in the newspaper “Informatsiyny bulleten”. Three gunshots were fired at his house in Lubny, two bottles with Molotov’s cocktail were thrown into the windows.

Koriak informed that several days before this incident, after the second article about E. Tomin titled “The face of horde” had been published in “Informatsiyny bulleten”, two men visited him. They told that they were the representatives of the Poltava oblast administration and asked him to stop the criticism of the governor. They proposed either a great sum of money or the post of the head of the oblast Pension fund. Koriak refused categorically. He said that he could not sell his consciousness, and that the local dwellers had the right to know about the worthlessness of the people, who governed them. Then these two men said that the journalist would regret.

Unfortunately, the threats were realized soon. Vasyl Koriak is sure that the attempt on his life and the life of his family was ordered by Evhen Tomin, the head of the Poltava oblast administration.

We turn to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is the guarantor of the constitutional rights of citizens, and to General Prosecutor of Ukraine S. Piskun with the demand to guarantee the safety of Poltava journalists, to stop the political censorship in its more dangerous form – physical destruction of those, who write the truth unpleasant for state officials, to find and punish the executors of this terrible crime and those, who ordered it.

17 June 2003
Per procurationem – President of the Poltava media club Ludmila Kucherenko,
 [email protected]

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

Public hearings “Access to information. Use of the classifications restricting the access»

   

Today, on 2 June, the public hearings “Access to information. Use of the classifications restricting the access» are conducted in Kyiv. The hearings were organized jointly by the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, the Public Council in charge of the freedom of speech and information and the Kharkov group for human rights protection. MPs, representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, General Prosecutor’s office, USS, President’s Administration and other organs of state power, a representative of the secretariat of the ombudsperson, representatives of public organizations, experts and others were invited for the participation in the hearings.

According to the monitoring conducted by the Kharkov group for human rights protection (KhG), 100 out of 2672 resolutions and decrees issued by the Cabinet of Ministers in 2002 were classified as “not for publishing”. The President of Ukraine issued 1479 edicts and decrees during 2002, 74 out of them also were classified as “not for publishing”. Among other agencies the traditional leader in secrecy is the USS (6 out of 14 orders were “for service use only”). The similarly classified orders were also issued in 2002 by the Ministry of Justice (2 out of 410), State penitentiary department (2 out of 13), Ministry of Interior (1 out of 30), State directorate of frontiers (1 out of 16) and State custom service (1 out of 1003).

According to the statistics, in 2003 the Cabinet of Ministers issued 14 documents “not for printing” and 5 “for service use only”. The President of Ukraine signed 23 edicts classified as “not for publishing”.

The experts of the KhG turned to the organs of state power with the demand to give them the right for the access to some documents connected with the problems of personal identification in Ukraine, but the access was denied. This, in particular, concerned President’s Edict No. 709/94 “On the information and analytic provision of the President of Ukraine” (the last version of 27 January 1999). The appeal was handed to the President’s administration and the Cabinet of Ministers with the request to explain the grounds of using the classifications “not for publishing” and “not for printing”.

According to the answer of the juridical department of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers, the access to the documents issued by the power organs is denied on the basis of Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 1893 of 27 November 1998 “On the approval of the instruction on the procedure of the registration, storage and use of the documents, files, editions and other material carriers containing confidential information owned by the state”.

Item 1 of this Instruction reads: “The lists of the information, which is owned by the state and is classified as the information with the restricted access “for service use only”, are compiled and brought into effect by ministries, other central organs of the executive power, the Council of Ministers of the Crimea, oblast state administrations, Kyiv and Sevastopol city administrations, which compile, own, use or handle these pieces of information”.

The KhG also got the refusal to their request to publish the secret President’s acts. The refusal was based on the argument that these acts with the restricted access, not always concerned the rights and freedoms of citizens (Article 57 of the Constitution stipulates the obligatory publication of such documents), but “contain the information directly connected with the question of guaranteeing the state security, defense of Ukraine and other similar information, which, according to the law, is owned by state”.

E. Gerasimenko, the head of the state-legal directorate of the President’s Administration, affirms that all information defined as state property is brought to notice of the interested persons, organs of state power and local self-rule in the accordance with Article 7 of President’s Decree No. 503 “On the procedure of the official publication of normative legal acts and bringing them into effect”. Coming into effect of such documents, in the interpretation of President’s administration, begins from the moment of familiarization with them. Yet, the question appears: how to determine this moment, if several persons are familiarized with the documents in different time? Is this moment individual for different persons or groups?

Considering the existing procedure of classifying the official documents, human rights protecting organizations want to attract the attention to the fact that more often the practical application of this procedure is illegal. The use of the classification “not for printing” is not envisaged by any normative acts, so it is applied by President’s administration and the Cabinet of Ministers on their own initiative, the procedures of the recall of such documents and the access to them are also not stipulated by legal acts. The Constitution contains the exhaustive list of the reasons for restricting the access to information: in the interests of national security, territorial integrity and public order, for preventing the disturbances or crimes, for preventing the divulgence of confidential information or for the support of the authority and impartiality of justice.

According to Article 34 of the Constitution, any restrictions of the access to information must be determined by laws. But now the legally stipulated restrictions concern only state secrets and nothing more.

The KhG reckons that the organs of state power have no right to restrict the access to information only on the basis of their property rights, on the conditions that this information does not inflict damage to the interests mentioned in Article 34 of the Ukrainian Constitution.

The law “On information” (Article 21) relates the sublegal acts to the information on the activities of the organs of state power and local self-rule and establishes the procedure of passing this information to the interested persons (orally, in writing or in other ways), but the state has no right to determine the circle of persons, who are considered as interested. Moreover, it is known from the experience that the organs of state power apply the secret classifications on their own initiative, and frequently to the information having the social importance.

So, last year President’s Edict No. 1180/2002 of 17 December 2002 classified as “not for publishing”, which approved the new version of “The resolution on the state administration”, was published, as well as the Decree “On the additional measures for the material provision of the officers of the Supreme Council of Justice”, which concerned not the national security, but the material welfare of the authorities.

“The national program of the development of power engineering until 2010” still has the classification “for service use only”, the same classification of the plan of the joint Ukraine-NATO work was cancelled only in last October. The agreement between “Naftogaz-Ukraina” (the oil and gas state company of Ukraine) and “Gazprom” (the similar Russian company) on the creation of the gas consortium still has this classification. The agreement is also closed for the members of the surveillance council of “Naftogaz-Ukraina”. So, in the opinion of the KhG experts, the illegal application of the classifications by the state organs must attract the attention of public.

The participants of the public hearings believe that, in the context of the realization of the measures envisaged by President’s Edict No. 683 of 1 August 2002 “On the additional measures for guaranteeing the transparency of the activities of the organs of state power”, the changes must be introduced to the law-applying practices. The state must not be the primary recipient of information, pointed out Vsevolod Rechitskiy, the KhG expert.

Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, said that the Committee was ready to render the legal aid for the disclosure and termination of the illegal practices of the denial of the access to information and for the development of the corresponding legislative changes.

“Telekritika”, 02 June 2003, http://www.telekritika.kiev.ua/comments/?id=8985

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

The request of Cherkassy journalists on the meeting with UNA-UNSO member Ruslan Zaychenko condemned after the “case of 9 March” was rejected

   

On 5 June several Cherkassy journalists failed to visit the village of Khutory near Cherkassy, where the penitentiary establishment No. 62 is situated, to which Ruslan Zaychenko, the UNA-UNSO member condemned after the “case of 9 March”, had been transferred.

The correspondent of “ForUm” communicates that on Monday the editorial board of the weekly “Antenna” turned to Sergiy Mironenko, the head of the Cherkassy oblast penitentiary department, with the request to permit them the meeting and the interview with the convict.

“Yet, the editorial board did not obtain the official answer”, informed Valeriy Vorotnik, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. “Today several journalists wanted to visit the penitentiary, to meet Ruslan and to learn about the conditions of his upkeep. Before the departure we phoned to Sergiy Mironenko and learned that there was no need to go there. The head of the penitentiary department said that he had no wish to cooperate with the newspaper “Antenna”. The reason, according to his words, was the critical materials that had been published in our newspaper”.

By the words of V. Vorotnik, the department head said that, according to the operating laws, a condemned had to express his own wish to communicate with the press. S. Mironenko rejected the proposition to deliver to R. Zaychenko the request about the meeting and “gave no advice how the journalists could inform the condemned about their intention to meet him”.

The editorial collective of “Antenna” states that they are not going to resign the idea to interview the “famous modern prisoner of consciousness”. The journalists placed on the newspaper site the note about the prohibition of the meeting with Ruslan Zaychenko. They ask to consider this note as one more appeal to the penitentiary department, under the jurisdiction of which R. Zaychenko stays now. We want to remind that Cherkassy dweller Ruslan Zaychenko, one of the leaders of the UNA-UNSO, was condemned by the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv to four years of incarceration for the organization of mass disorders during the protest actions of 9 March 2001. The appeal court decreased the term of incarceration to three years and two months. Zaychenko did not plead guilty.

Andriy Lubenskiy, Cherkassy, «ForUm»,
http://ukr.for-ua.com/news/2003/06/05/123835.html

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

Judge Kovaliov: “Turn off your dictaphone!» (Lugansk)

   

Journalists frequently become the victims of the arbitrariness of judges, who do not permit them to use the audio- and video-recording equipment, thus impeding the fulfillment of their professional activities. At that some judges even do not bother themselves with the observance of procedural norms, which demand to issue the resolution about the prohibition to a journalist to use, for example, a dictaphone.

According to the law on court (Article 9) a judge may not issue such prohibition during an open consideration of a case (although he may prohibit to use the stationary recording equipment). Nevertheless, such practice of judges’ arbitrariness does exist, and a bright example of this is the document quoted below: the appeal by journalist Ludmila Sokolenko (a participant of this project) to the prosecutor about bringing judge Kovaliov to criminal responsibility.

APPEAL
on the commitment of a crime

On 6 April 2001 I was present at an open court sitting of the Zhovtnevy district court of Lugansk. The court considered the case of Shcherbatiuk and Zverev. Judge A. Kovaliov was the chairman.

I was fulfilling my professional duty, since in March 2003 Vera Gavrilenko, a grandmother of Shcherbatiuk, turned to me with the complaint against the unjust treatment of the accused during the inquiry and pre-trial investigation, and asked me to be present at the trial. Being a journalist, I had to collect the information on the course of the trial.

I was also present at the previous sitting that took place on 31 March 2003. Before the trial I entered the office of judge A. Kovaliov, introduced myself, showed him my journalist’s ID and said that I was interested in this consideration and the lot of Evgeniy Shcherbatiuk, who had a difficult life, since he was an orphan.

During the trial of 6 April 2003 I stayed all the time in the courtroom and made records in my notebook. After a break, at 1 p.m., when V. Gavrilenko was interrogated as a witness, I used dictaphone for obtaining more complete and reliable information.

Approximately at 13:40 the court secretary noticed that I used the dictaphone and said about this to judge Kovaliov. Judge Kovaliov ordered me to stop the audio recording. He did not perform any procedural actions – he merely cried roughly: “Turn off your dictaphone!»

After this I stood up and asked to explain to me, a journalist, who fulfilled the professional duty, what offence I had committed, if the court did not issue any resolution on the prohibition to audio record the court process or on some other restrictions of the openness of the trial.

Judge Kovaliov explained nothing and demanded to present the dictaphone to the court. I objected that it was my work tool and personal property. Then Kovaliov ordered the guards to take away the dictaphone by force, and I told to the court about the responsibility for impeding the journalistic activities in the accordance with Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Judge A. Kovaliov ordered me to leave the courtroom. I repeated that I did not violate the order of the court sitting and declared: “I will go away if you would explain me, what offence I committed”. Yet, judge Kovaliov gave no explanations again and repeated his order in the hysterical tone. I had to obey.

Thus, A. Kovaliov, a judge the Zhovtnevy district court of Lugansk, impeded my professional journalistic activities, and his actions contained the features of the crime envisaged by Article 171 of the CC of Ukraine.

I know that I may be called to account for false accusations.

I ask to bring to criminal responsibility judge A. Kovaliov. I ask to interrogate the following witnesses: Vera Gavrilenko (14/3 Shevchenko block, Lugansk, tel. 63-82-89) and Vladimir Goncharov (2/37 Alekseeva block, Lugansk, tel. 53-87-09)

7 May 2003 
L. Sokolenko

***

The most interesting detail in this situation is that the prosecutor was silent till 12 June, and then he informed the journalist (the message was signed on 12 May) that her complaint against the arbitrary actions of the judge was not a sufficient ground for the institution of a criminal case, so he forwarded the complaint (prosecutor Naydysh do not comprehend the difference between a complaint and an appeal!) to the oblast court for taking the appropriate disciplinary measures. Thus, the following rights were violated: a) the right of the participants of the process for open consideration of the case; b) the right of the journalist to obtain and spread the information. These rights were not restored, “because of the absence of criminal event”.

There is another significant fact: the above appeal by the journalist to the prosecutor’s office was the first case in the oblast, when a journalist tried to bring a judge to responsibility for violating the right for the professional activities.

***

One more aspect of the non-freedom of mass media is the discrimination of journalists in the access to information.

The practice exists in the Lugansk oblast of the administrative selection of journalists and mass media by the criteria of the level of loyalty to state officials. For example, only “tame” journalists, who never published critical materials, are invited to the official press conferences of the head of the oblast administration.

Such practice is also applied, when various official actions are conducted. For example, when the President of Ukraine visits the oblast, not every journalist has the happy opportunity to approach to the first person of the state. And the right to put questions at the press conferences is rendered only to specially selected loyal journalists, who may ask only the questions prepared and given to them beforehand. Such segregation of journalists in the communication with the guarantor of our rights and freedoms is a common practice. Nobody is indignant with that, and nobody brings actions to court.

Thus, the problem lies in the fact that the journalists, who work in the Lugansk oblast mass media, especially in district ones, work under the conditions of the illegally restricted freedom and are not able to fulfill their public duties properly.

The following conclusions can be drawn from this thesis:

1.  We need the professional consolidation of journalists for the protection of the right to obtain, store and spread the information freely.

2.  We need the systematic legal support of journalists and mass media by means of regular juridical consultations.

3.  We need the systematic informational provision of journalists with legal information – on the experience of human rights protection activities in the media-space, juridical practices, Ukrainian and international experience of struggle for the freedom of speech, legal standards (Ukrainian and international), practices of the European court in the context of Article 10 of the European Convention, etc.

Nikolay Kozyrev, the Chairman of the board of the Public committee for protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, Lugansk

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

M. Tomenko: The decision to prohibit to the National TV company to conduct the live broadcast with the participation of MPs was issued by the President of Ukraine

   

M. Tomenko asserts that the prohibition to the administration of the National TV company to conduct the live broadcast with the participation of MPs was issued by the President of Ukraine. The head of the Supreme Rada committee said this at the press conference in Kyiv.

Tomenko appealed to the administration of the National TV company with the request to permit the political discussions in the live broadcast. He proposed to cancel the translations of the records of the Days of government, Parliamentary hearings and the features about the work of the Supreme Rada and to transmit instead of them the features in the live broadcast with the participation of the leaders of various political forces.

“I mean not the political debates, but the opportunity to discuss the decisions of the Supreme Rada at the end of the session day”, he pointed out. “Such format of the features with the participation of political leaders is the only possibility to express one’s political position”. Tomenko said that such features might be translated on the days of session sittings, and then the Parliament should refuse from the pretensions to other features.

The head of the committee also supported the creation of a special parliamentary channel, which would broadcast through the cable TV and satellite.

According to his words, such channel can appear in the cable network of Kyiv as early as in 2003. Tomenko said that the greatest Kyiv operator “Volia” reserved the place for such channel in its package – this obligation was taken by the company when it obtained the license.

Speaking about the results of the work of the committee during the year, Tomenko welcomed the signature by the President of the amendments to the law, which released the journalists from the responsibility for their evaluative judgments.

At the same time, commenting the reproaches to his address on the side of President’s administration, Tomenko remarked: “During this year the President, being a subject of legislative initiative, did not propose any amendments to the laws directed at their improvement. So, it is strange, when the President’s administration states that our laws are bad and the Supreme Rada is guilty of this”.

Tomenko informed that the committee handed to the Parliament the proposal on the amendments to the Civil and Civil-Procedural Codes, proposing to liquidate the norm reading that “negative information is regarded as inauthentic”.

He also told that during the next session the draft of the law on public TV would be presented to the Supreme Rada. He said that the subscribers of this TV would pay about 2-5 hryvnas per month, the channel will not contain advertisements, and will contain a great amount of news, educational and culture programs. At the same time the MP expressed the doubt that this channel will begin to work before the Presidential election-2004.

9 June 2003, UP, http://www.pravda.com.ua

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

The Supreme Rada ordered the General Prosecutor’s office to investigate the facts of impeding the professional activities

   

The Supreme Rada of Ukraine endorsed the request of Mykola Tomenko, the Head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, about the facts of censorship and impediment to the professional activities of I. Rudich, the editor-in-chief of the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki”, a deputy of the executive editor of the analytic and publicistic features of the Main editorial board of TV features of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense. The request was sent to General Prosecutor of Ukraine S. Piskun and to Minister of Defense of Ukraine V. Shkidchenko.

The request reads that in his appeal to the Head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information I. Rudich informed about the fact of the excision from the feature “Territoria bezpeki” (8 June 2003, 10:35 a.m., TV channel “UT-1”) of the records of the interviews with MPs Georgiy Kriuchkov and Viktor Yushchenko. This excision, according to the words of I. Rudich, was made by order of colonel O. Tereverko, the Head of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense. The latter insisted that the order agreed with the Statute of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense. On 9 June colonel O. Tereverko issued Order No. 45 “On the drawbacks in the work on the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki” of the Main editorial board of TV features”, in which he pointed out the “incomplete service competence” of I. Rudich, dismissed Rudich from the post of the editor-in-chief of the feature “Territoria bezpeki” and imposed a fine on him

In the deputy’s request Mykola Tomenko attracts the attention to the fact that the actions committed, according to I. Rudich, by the Head of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense are prohibited by the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 15) and the Law of Ukraine “On information” (Article 45-1). Besides, these actions, most probably, contain the signs of the crime envisaged by Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Impediment to the legal professional activities of journalists”. In the request M. Tomenko asked the General Prosecutor and the Minister of Defense:

-  To give the juridical assessment of the actions (also on the presence of the signs of the crime envisaged by Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) of colonel O. Tereverko, the Head of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense, and to take, if necessary, the appropriate measures in the accordance with the operating laws.

-  To consider the question whether the Statute of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense agrees with the operating laws, in particular the Law of Ukraine “On information”.

-  To check the legality of the above-mentioned Order No. 45 of 9 June 2003 “On the drawbacks in the work on the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki” of the Main editorial board of TV features” issued by the Head of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense, and to take, if necessary, the appropriate measures for its cancellation.

-  To consider the question about restoring I. Rudich on the post of the editor-in-chief of the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki”.

-  To take measures for the restoration of other rights (including economic) of I. Rudich, which were violated as a result of his dismissal from the post of the editor-in-chief of the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki”.

-  To inform MP Mykola Tomenko about the results of the consideration of this request in the term stipulated by law.

17 June 2003, the information of the Public Council in charge of the freedom of speech, http://imi.org.ua/

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

Dismissal of Igor Rudich, the editor of the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki”

   

The editor of the TV feature “Territoria bezpeki”, which is issued by the Ministry of Defense and broadcasted by the channel “UT-1”, was dismissed because of his refusal from censorship of the feature.

According to the words of I. Rudich, the feature of 8 June was issued with many deletions. He got the order to cut the comments of Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the bloc “Nasha Ukraina”, and communist Georgiy Kriuchkov, the head of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of national security and defense, from the material about the dispatch of the Ukrainian peacemakers to Iraq. When Rudich refused to do this, he was dismissed. The ex-editor accused O. Tereverko, the Head of the Central TV and radio studio of the Ministry of Defense, and turned to the colleagues and public with the appeal to protect his feature from censorship.

(«Vecherniy Kharkov », No. 65, 19 June 2003)

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

On the dismissal of Georgiy Teron, the general manager of the Chernivtsy oblast state TV and radio company

   

From the open letter of I. Lubchenko, the head of the TV company, to Ivan Chizh, the head of the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting

According to the order issued by the committee headed by you, Georgiy Teron, the general manager of the Chernivtsy oblast state TV and radio company, was dismissed from his post.

The formal cause for the dismissal was the end of the term of the contract with G. Teron. I am saying “formal”, since both the administration of the Union of independent journalists of Ukraine and the workers of Bukovina mass media, as well as our colleagues throughout the country, know about the long-lasting conflict between Teofil Bauer, the head of the Chernivtsy oblast administration, and journalists.

The conflict between the Chernivtsy governor and journalists, who are persistently fighting for their right to write and tell truth, reached its apogee when the journalists and members of their families organized the picket of the building of the oblast administration. G. Teron also took part in the picket. This fact aroused the ire of Mr. Bauer, who declared that the TV and radio company might not be headed by such radical journalists’ collective. And, as we see, he realized the idea. The order on the dismissal of G. Teron was issued even without the agreement of the council of general managers of TV and radio companies, although this had to be done according to the provisions on the council approved by the collegium of the committee headed by you.

It is a pity, but the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting took the side of the state official in his conflict with the journalist.

On the same days, when the order on the dismissal of G. Teron was signed in Kyiv, Simferopol authorities fired Valeriy Nizovoy, the general manager of the TRC “Krym”. The cancellation of contracts also threatens the general managers of Dnepropetrovsk, Volyn and some other state TV and radio companies.

Unfortunately, your Committee is ruining the values that you have been declaring all the time.

(«Svoboda», No. 25, 24-30 June 2003)

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media

08.04.2004

Court processes for protecting the freedom of speech and the press

   

A case on the impediment to journalists’ activities was started in Shostka

On 2 June the Shostka district prosecutor’s office (the Sumy oblast) started a criminal case after article 171 Part 1 of the CC of Ukraine (impediment to the legal journalists’ professional activities) against the head of the department of the registration of the acts of civil status (DRACS) at Shostka directorate of justice.

Larisa Yakubenko, the general manager of the company “TELECOM-SERVIS”, informed the IMI that the oblast informational-analytical weekly “Perekrestok” published the data about the number of the births, marriages, divorces and deaths registered during a week.

“We were obtaining these data from the DRACS since 1999, but newly appointed to this post Ms. Degtiariova refused to render such information to the editorial board without any explanations”, told Larisa Yakubenko.

It is noteworthy that the case was started only after the deputy’s request of Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada committee, to the General Prosecutor’s office. Shostka district prosecutor’s office refused, as usual, to start the criminal case after the claim of the journalists. The prosecutor’s officers said that there were no grounds for the institution of the case. Yet, the operating laws do not relate such statistical data to the information with the restricted access.

According to the information of the IMI, the judges of the local court, to which the case would be directed, have already formed their opinion: “the case is hopeless”.

Maria Sambur, 09 June 2003, the Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media

08.04.2004

The criminal case on the illegal deprivation of liberty of the workers of a TV company (Press release)

   

On 5 June 2003 the Starokostiantynivskiy inter-district prosecutor’s office started the criminal case after part 2 Article 146 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine against the manager of the private commercial-industrial firm “Dvi Oleny” and his wife (illegal deprivation of liberty committed against two or more persons by prior collusion).

The check established that on 28 May 2003 the spouses illegally deprived of liberty three workers of the Khmelnitska oblast TV and radio company “Podillia-tsentr”: L. Samenova, G. Buyanovska and V. Krivoy, and kept them in the office of the firm “Dvi Oleny” for about two hours.

The creative group was released only after the interference of the officers of the district militia precinct.

The details of the case will be disclosed and considered during the pre-trial investigation, which will be conducted by a deputy of the prosecutor of the inter-district prosecutor’s office of the Khmelnitska oblast.

Lilia Ivakh, the press secretary of the inter-district prosecutor’s office of the Khmelnitska oblast

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media

08.04.2004

Kharkov militia confiscated from distributors the newspaper “Bez tsenzury”

   

17 June 2003. The editorial board of the edition informed that the political weekly of Viktor Yushchenko’s bloc “Nasha Ukraina” was distributed free of charge in the passage of one of Kharkov subway stations. At 16:45 the officers of the station militia came to distributors G. Igumnov and E. Poltavets, took them to the militia room and, in presence of witnesses, compiled the protocol on the confiscation of 410 copies of the edition “Bez tsenzury”.

 The editorial board stated that this was not the first case of persecuting the distributors of the newspaper in the Kharkov oblast.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

***

On 17 June the distributors of the newspaper of the bloc “Nasha Ukraina” in Kharkov came across an unpleasant incident. The workers of the local militia confiscated from them 410 copies of the edition “Bez tsenzury”. The political weekly was distributed free of charge in the passage of one of Kharkov subway stations. About 5 p.m. militiamen came to distributors Igumnov and Poltavets and ordered them to walk to the station militia room. Here the militiamen compiled the protocol on the confiscation of 410 copies of the edition. The workers of the newspaper explained to our correspondent that the law-enforcers adduced the formal reason that the distributors allegedly impeded the movement of subway passengers. Yet, answering the official request of the assistants of MP Volodymir Filenko about the legal grounds of these actions, senior sergeant Sapelnik informed that he fulfilled the order of captain Sukhoruk, the head of the department of subway guard. The members of the editorial board of the weekly “Bez tsenzury” stated that this was not the first case of persecuting the distributors of the newspaper in the Kharkov oblast.

 («Ukraina moloda», No. 109, 19 June 2003)

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media

08.04.2004

Seizure of the run of the newspaper “Svoboda”, No. 29 from the trading network of the agency “Soyuzdruk”

   

On 18 October 2000 Ya. Manarinskiy and A. Kraypiay, the officers of the Radiansky district militia directorate of Kyiv, seized the run of No. 29 the newspaper “Svoboda” from the trading network of the agency “Soyuzdruk” (a company-distributor of printed mass media. – Translator’s note).

Almost three years later O. Galynia, the head of precinct No. 1 of the Shevchenkivskiy (former Radiansky) district militia directorate of Kyiv, informed the editorial board that the seizure of the run of the newspaper was realized by the written order of the collegium of the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine. It is interesting that, after the results of the check of the contents of this issue, the Radiansky district prosecutor’s office took the decision on the refusal to start a criminal case on the basis of Article 6 item 2 of the Civil-Procedural Code of Ukraine (absence of corpus delicti).

Since March 2002 the prosecutor’s office of the Cherkassy oblast is illegally keeping the 107-thousand run of No. 11 of the newspaper “Svoboda”, and the investigation of the criminal case, on the basis of which the edition was seized from the printing shop “Respublika”, is still not finished.

(«Svoboda», No. 25, 24-30 June 2003)

Court processes for protecting the freedom of speech and the press

08.04.2004

Journalist of the newspaper “Ekspress” Bogdan Kufrik won the trial against Lviv mayor Lubomir Buniak

   

24 June 2003. The Appeal court of the Lviv oblast took the decision that the actions of Lviv mayor Lubomir Buniak, who drove local journalist Bogdan Kufrik from mayor’s press conference, were illegal. Thus, the court cancelled the decision of the Galitskiy district court of Lviv, which rejected the complaint of B. Kufrik in March 2003. Yet, the claim was satisfied by the Appeal court only partly – the journalist will not get the demanded compensation of the moral damage equal to 5000 hryvnas. Soon after the incident, which happened on 7 August 2002 at the briefing, two more most popular Lviv newspapers, “Postup” and “Vysokiy zamok”, supported “Ekspress” and B. Kufrik. These newspapers published the joint appeal, in which they accused L. Buniak of the violation of the Ukrainian laws on the press and information, as well as the law “On state service”, which regulate the access of journalists to information. The newspapers appealed to the mayor to apologize publicly to the journalists and inhabitants of Lviv.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Court processes for protecting the freedom of speech and the press

08.04.2004

Yalta court obliged the officials to render the requested information to journalists

   

On 13 June 2003 the town court of Yalta considered the civil case on the complaint of Ragim Gumbatov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Alubika”, against the illegal actions of local officials. Gumbatov appealed against the refusal of the officials of the Alupka town council, in particular Alupka mayor Valeriy Andyk, to render information to journalists.

In December 2002 the Yalta court took the similar decision, but defendant V. Andyk appealed this decision in the second court instance, and the Appeal court of the Crimea directed the case to the court of first instance for another consideration.

The decision the Yalta town court obliged Alupka mayor Valeriy Andyk to render the needed information to journalist Ragim Gumbatov. The court decision will come into effect in a month. The editor was represented in court by Arsen Osmanov, a lawyer of the Committee on the monitoring of the freedom of speech in the Crimea.

The Committee on the monitoring of the freedom of speech in the Crimea, [email protected]

Conflicts connected with licensing of electronic mass media

08.04.2004

TV company “UTAR” turned to the European court on human rights

   

The complaint was sent to Strasbourg on 26 April 2003. The reason of sending this complaint was the violation of Article 10 “The freedom of expression of the opinions” and Article 6 “The right for just court consideration” of the European Convention of human rights. On 17 April 2002 the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting issued the decision, in which it did not acknowledge “UTAR” to be the winner of the competition for the right to use the 37th channel in Kyiv.

 («Ukrainske slovo», No. 24, 12-18 June 2003)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases

08.04.2004

The ambassador of Canada is surprised by the practice of closing the newspapers by canceling their registration

   

On 16-18 June Canadian ambassador Andrew Robinson visited the Zakarpatska oblast. During his meeting with journalists A. Robinson expressed his surprise at the practice existing in the region, when the newspapers are closed by means of canceling their registration by court decisions (he meant the case with “Visti tyzhnia” and the claim of the press directorate of the oblast administration on the cancellation of registration of the newspaper “RIO”).

The diplomat never heard about similar cases in any other regions of Ukraine. “In Canada such things are impossible even in theory, since there newspapers must not be registered by state organs”, the ambassador remarked. “The state must not have any influence in such cases, if a crime was not committed”, he added. A. Robinson promised to raise this question at his meeting with the head of the oblast state administration.

Yaroslav Frindak, the Zakarpatska oblast branch of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine, Uzhgorod

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

The newspaper “Antenna” won the process against the head of the Cherkassy oblast directorate for fighting the organized crime

   

Aleksandr Mikisha, the first deputy of the Cherkassy oblast militia directorate and the head of the Cherkassy oblast directorate for fighting the organized crime (DFOC), demanded in his claim against the newspaper “Antenna” the compensation of moral damage equal to 80 thousand, public apology of the editor and publication of the refutation. The claim of the official against the newspaper was considered by judge T. Korshunova of the Sosnovskiy court of Cherkassy.

Aleksandr Mikisha accused “Antenna” of the publication of the article “General Kochegarov will go away and will not return” (8 May 2002), which read: “It is rumored that after 1 May general Kochegarov will go on leave and will not return back, and his post will be passed to… colonel Aleksandr Mikisha, the head of the DFOC. According to the rumors, the latter is already accepting the congratulations.” Mikisha insisted that the editorial board had the goal to provoke the conflict between the militia officers. “And in the article “General Kochegarov became a hostage of militia intrigues” the newspaper deliberately misinformed the public about the actions and crimes that I did not commit”, stated A. Mikisha.

In his claim Mr. Mikisha points out that “the facts adduced in the article “General Kochegarov became a hostage of militia intrigues” are inauthentic, since I have no acute conflict with O. Kochegarov, the head of the Cherkassy oblast militia directorate. I also did not commit the crimes, of which the newspaper accused me, such as the control over some part of local criminal business, organizing the unsuccessful attempt at Kochegarov’s life and driving him to suicide with the purpose to occupy his post”. The claim contains an excerpt from the article, from which Aleksandr Mikisha drew the above-mentioned conclusions: “Lately O. Kochegarov had the permanent conflict with a number of local militia officers, who were displeased with his attempts to stop their illegal actions. Many people say that the administration of the local DFOC, with which O. Kochegarov always had not very good relations, controls some part of criminal business in Cherkassy. Yet, this organization also has a certain potential for the conduction of special operations. It would not be surprising if, after the dismissal of Kochegarov, his post will be occupied by an officer of the DFOC. By the way, several minutes ago the press conference has finished in the prosecutor’s office of the Cherkassy oblast. One more note found at a place of occurrence was mentioned at the press conference. The note reads: “You wanted to occupy this post? You will occupy it.” Perhaps, it is one more proof of the fact that Kochegarov tried to kill himself. Whom did he mean? Maybe the head of the local DFOC?”

On 30 May 2003 the Sosnovskiy court of Cherkassy issued the decision: it refused to satisfy A. Mikisha’s claim.

The Institute of mass information, 03 June 2003, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

The first consideration of the claim of Mirgorod mayor against journalist Viktor Kozoriz

   

On 5 June the first consideration of the claim of Oleksandr Pautov, the mayor of Mirgorod (the Poltava oblast), against Viktor Kozoriz, the editor-in-chief and journalist of the newspaper “Mirgorodska Pravda”, took place in the town of Okhtyrka of the Sumy oblast.

The mayor demands 50 thousand of compensation of the moral damage inflicted to him by the publication of an article by V. Kozoriz in the newspaper “Mirgorodska pravda”. The claimant was insulted with the phrases: “…Mirgorod dwellers were forced to accept Oleksandr Pautov, a not popular and, as it became known later, absolutely untalented manager” and “Oleksandr Pautov has rather vague notion of the economic policy and the principles of managing a modern town. It seems that he does not understand at all, by whom and for which he was elected, and to whom he must serve”. The mayor believes that these statements are untrue, that they defame him, discredit his honor, dignity and business reputation and defile his business reputation in public opinion.

The defendant was represented at the trial by former mayor of Mirgorod Vasyl Tretetskiy and IMI lawyer Tetiana Kirichenko. Local journalists also came to the trial to support their colleague.

During the trial Kozoriz lodged the petition, in which he asked to include into the case materials the documents that confirmed the facts stated in the article, on the basis of which he, in his opinion, had the right to characterize the mayor in the above-mentioned way.

During the first consideration the parties put some questions, presented proofs and lodged petitions.

The second trial will be held on 19 June 2003.

We want to remind that on 12 March 2003 the Local Mirgorod town court approved the decision to seize the flat of Viktor Kozoriz “with the aim to secure the claim”.

09 June 2003, The Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

The Bloc of Yulia Timoshenko will demand to bring to criminal responsibility the administrators of “Studio 1+1”

   

The BYT is going to turn to court with the demand to bring to criminal responsibility the administrators of the TV company “Studio 1+1”, if they would not refute the untrue information about Yu. Timoshenko.

The press service of the BYT informed the UNIAN that, according to the resolution of the state executor, the fine equal to 340 hryvnas was imposed on Vladimir Oseledchik, the general manager of the TV and radio company “Studio 1+1”, for non-fulfillment of the decision of the Obolonskiy district court of Kyiv, which was issued in favor of Timoshenko.

The BYT reminds that the Obolonskiy district court of Kyiv, in its decision of 28 May 2002, acknowledged the information spread by the TV channel “Studio 1+1” during the pre-election TV debates as untrue.

The court decision obliged the company “Studio 1+1” to render to Yu. Timoshenko the air at the channel “1+1” for refuting the above-mentioned untrue information.

The court decision came into force as early as in December 2002, but it has not been fulfilled by the TV company until now.

According to the Law of Ukraine “On execution procedure”, general manager of the company V. Oseledchik was fined for the non-fulfillment of the court decision, and later the doubled fine was imposed on him for the same offense.

If the court decision would not be fulfilled, the appeal would be handed to the court with the demand to bring to criminal responsibility the administration of the TV company, informs the press service of the BYT.

09 June 2003, The Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

MP Petro Oliynyk won the trial against “Studio 1+1”

   

The appeal court of Kyiv did not satisfy the appeal of the TV and radio company “Studio 1+1” against the decision of the Pecherskiy district court of 6 February on the case started after the complaint of MP Petro Oliynyk (the bloc “Nasha Ukraina”) against the TRC “Studio 1+1” on the protection of business reputation and recompensing the moral damage, and left the decision without changes. This information was provided by the press service of the Lviv oblast branch of the bloc “Nasha Ukraina”.

The Pecherskiy district court satisfied the claim of Petro Oliynyk: the information communicated in the news “TSN” on 18 March 2002 about the wreck of Chervonograd town economy by mayor Petro Oliynyk were acknowledged to be untrue, the defendant was obliged to refute this information by reading out the resolution part of the decision in the evening block of news and to pay the compensation of moral damage equal to 1650 hryvnas. On 6 February the decision came into force and had to be executed in a month.

MP P. Oliynyk commented the decision of the chamber on civil cases of the appeal court of Kyiv in the following way: “The decision of the appeal court of Kyiv evidences that the independent court power still exists in Ukraine, and this power can protect the interests of the Ukrainian citizens”. He also told about the moral compensation: “one must act wisely and justly in such cases”. “It was our own initiative to demand the compensation sum equal to 10 minimal salaries. So I want to advise my colleagues, to whose business reputation the damage was also inflicted, to defend their honor and dignity emphatically and earnestly”, said Petro Oliynyk.

04 June 2003, The Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Brovary mayor has legal proceedings with the newspaper “Brovarskiy kuryer”

   

Today the town court of Brovary (the Kyiv oblast) again considered the claim of town mayor Viktor Antonenko against the editorial board of the newspaper “Brovarskiy kuryer”. The mayor demanded from the editorial board to refute the untrue information and to recompense the moral damage equivalent to 40 thousand hryvnas.

“In his claim Mr. Antonenko stated that the information published in the October issue of the newspaper “Brovarskiy kuryer” is false”, says editor-in-chief Nadiya Grytskova.

According to the words of the journalist, the publication was devoted to the celebration of the Day of the town. The newspaper published the interview of the head of the budget committee of the town council, who said that the authorities had to allot 100 thousand hryvnas for the celebration. The budget committee protested against such expenses, but the deputies of the town council approved the program. The opinion was expressed in the editorial comment that it should be more reasonable to allot such great amount of money not for the celebration, but for the salaries of the workers of communal sphere.

During the today sitting the court listened to the witnesses presented by the claimant, and on 24 May the will be summoned, who were presented by the defendant – the editorial board of the newspaper.

11 June 2003, The Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Editor of the newspaper “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” (the Chernigiv oblast) is a plaintiff and a defendant at the same time

   

An interesting juridical collision occurred in the town of Nosivka of the Chernigiv oblast. The town court simultaneously considered two cases concerning the newspaper “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” (an edition of the district organization of the People’s Rukh of Ukraine) and its editor Mykola Efimenko. At that M. Efimenko was a plaintiff in one case and a defendant, together with his newspaper, -- in another one.

Both conflict situations began more than a year ago, during the election to the Parliament and local organs of state power. The newspaper “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” criticized Oleksandr Volkov, a candidate to the Supreme Rada from his district. District state newspaper “Nosivski visti” and local TV company “Obriy” supported Volkov. “Demokratichna Nosivshchina”, in its turn, started the polemics with these mass media; in particular, it published a critical material about “Obriy”.

Another conflict emerged in the connection with the fact that editor of “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” Mykola Efimenko ran for the post of Nosivka mayor. Three days before the election the newspaper “Nosivski visti” printed in its special issue two critical materials about M. Efimenko. Efimenko had no time and opportunity to response to these materials in the same newspaper.

The election finished. O. Volkov became an MP, M. Efimenko was not elected to mayor’s post. And the Nosivka court got two claims on the protection of honor and dignity during the election campaign. Mykola Efimenko brought a suit against the newspaper “Nosivski visti”, he pointed out that the publication of the critical materials about him on the eve of the election was a direct violation of the election laws.

Head of the TV company “Obriy” G. Voytok handed a claim against “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” and its editor for the above-mentioned publication concerning his company. He also reckoned that the newspaper insulted his honor and dignity and the organization headed by him.

Both cases were considered by the same judge – O. Kireev. The result was the following: the claim of M. Efimenko against the newspaper “Nosivski visti” was rejected, in other words, neither insults nor violations of the election laws were found in the materials published by the newspaper. (By the way, Mykola Efimenko demanded, if the verdict would be issued in his favor, to regard the mayor’s election as illegal). The claim of G. Voytok against the newspaper “Demokratichna Nosivshchina” and its editor was satisfied, and the defendants were obliged to pay rather great sum to G. Voytok for recompensing the moral damage.

For several times Mykola Efimenko asked to replace judge O. Kireev, but the judge rejected the challenges by himself and completed the case. M. Efimenko told that the challenges were caused the fact that some time ago his newspaper published a critical article about judge Kireev describing the case, where the judge demonstrated his incompetence and issued the unjust decision. After all the newspaper turned out to be right: the decision of the judge was cancelled by the oblast court. Yet, the judge acknowledged that his conflict with the newspaper was not a sufficient reason for the challenge.

Besides, along with the claim of G. Voytok, which has been already satisfied by the court, there is another claim of the TV company “Obriy” against the same defendants.

So, in such way two cases in Nosivka were completed. Yet, the second case will have the continuation: M. Efimenko handed the cassation against the court decision on G. Voytok’s claim. We will see later whether this cassation will be considered.

The newspaper "Sivershchina" (Chernigiv), from the edition of “Informatsiyny bulleten” – the newspaper “Svoboda slova”, No. 1-3 2003

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

The case against the newspaper “Veksel” (the Odessa oblast) was closed because of the recall of the claim by the plaintiff

   

On 5 May the town court of Yuzhny (the Odessa oblast) closed the case after the claim of Oleksandr Zhuravel, the head of the town council, against the editorial board of the newspaper “Veksel”. The case was closed because of the recall of the claim by the plaintiff. “It became possible only owing to the support of our edition by other mass media: the case was well-known not only in the Odessa oblast, but throughout Ukraine”, said Sergiy Tykhoplav, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

The court still considers two other claims against the newspaper handed by Nadiya Shumeyko, the business-manager of the town council.

We want to remind that on 29 January 2002 Oleksandr Zhuravel brought a suit against the newspaper “Veksel” on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and the compensation of moral damage equivalent to 10 thousand hryvnas. The mayor was offended by the phrase: “A natural question appears: whose interests A. Zhuravel is lobbying? Why he tries to suppress the town? It seems that he has his own interests”, which was published in the newspaper on 28 November 2001.

13 June 2003, The Institute of mass information, http://imi.org.ua/

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Three officials of the executive committee vs. the newspaper “Tretiy sector” (Severodonetsk)

   

Three officials of the executive committee handed the claims on the protection of honor and dignity after the publication of the article “Referendum-phobia” in the December issue (2002) of the newspaper “Tretiy sector” (Severodonetsk). The total sum of the compensation equals to 13 thousand hryvnas. None of these cases is not completed yet.

At two court sittings on the claims of the executive committee officials against “Tretiy sector”, which have been already conducted, the officials handed the petition to carry out the consideration in Russian. The court rejected this petition and decided to carry out the trial in Ukrainian. Then it appeared that the Severodonetsk officials did not know the state language.

Aleksey Svetikov, the editor of the newspaper “Tretiy sector”

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Nikolayev branch of “Privatbank” handed a claim against the newspaper “Ridne Pribuzhzhia”

   

19 June 2003. The Nikolayev branch of “Privatbank” handed a claim against the newspaper “Ridne Pribuzhzhia” published by the Nikolayev oblast state administration and the Nikolayev oblast council. “Privatbank” demands 50 thousand hryvnas of compensation for the publication of untrue (in the opinion of the claimant) information disgracing the reputation of the bank. On 1 February 2003 the newspaper published the information about the meeting of the leaders of oblast trade unions with governor Oleksiy Garkusha. “Privatbank” was mentioned in the article twice: as the new owner of the plant “Kristal”, with the appearance of which the reduction of the staff was expected at the plant, and as the bank, which obtruded the system of plastic cards for paying salaries to the personnel of the Zhovtnevy central district hospital of the Nikolayev. The article read that the services of the bank would cost 130 thousand hryvnas to the hospital. The administration of  “Privatbank” insists that the bank has no relation with the plant “Kristal”, and that the production and maintenance of the plastic cards are gratis for the hospital.

Tetiana Odintsova, the editor-in-chief of “Ridne Pribuzhzhia”, communicated to the IMI that the information spread by the newspaper was given by the trade union leaders of the plant “Kristal” and the Zhovtnevy hospital. On 20 June these leaders will be summoned to court as witnesses. The Nikolayev branch of “Privatbank” handed the claim to court on 6 March 2003. Two considerations of the case have been already conducted.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Okhtyrka town court (the Sumy oblast) decided to satisfy the claim of Mirgorod mayor Oleksandr Pautov against Viktor Kozoriz, the editor of the opposition newspaper “Mirgorodska Pravda”

   

23 June 2003. Okhtyrka town court (the Sumy oblast) issued the decision to satisfy the claim of Mirgorod mayor Oleksandr Pautov against Viktor Kozoriz, the editor of the opposition newspaper “Mirgorodska Pravda”. In the verdict the court decreased the compensation sum from 50 thousand hryvnas (demanded by the mayor) to 600 hryvnas from the editorial board and 1500 hryvnas from Kozoriz. At the same time the court decided to cancel the seizure of Kozoriz’s flat that had been imposed in March “with the aim to secure the claim”. The newspaper is also obliged to publish the refutation. Viktor Kozoriz, who, because of his conflict with the mayor, had, in fact, to move in Kharkov, intends to appeal against the court decision.

The mayor was offended by the publication in the December issue of the newspaper, in which Kozoriz called Pautov “an absolutely untalented manager”, who “has rather vague notion of the economic policy and the principles of managing a modern town”. The claimant believes that these words, as well as the phrase: “…he does not understand at all, by whom and for what he was elected, and to whom he must serve”, inflicted the damage to his honor, dignity and business reputation equivalent to 50 thousand hryvnas.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Brovary town court (the Kyiv oblast) partly satisfied the claim of the Brovary town council against the newspaper “Brovarskiy kuryer”

   

25 June 2003. Today the Brovary town court of the Kyiv oblast partly satisfied the claim of the Brovary town council against the newspaper “Brovarskiy kuryer” and obliged the editorial board to refute the information published in the weekly “Brovarskiy kuryer” No. 9 of 11 October 2002 and No. 10 of 25 October 2002.

We want to remind that Brovary mayor Viktor Antonenko demanded from the editorial board to refute the untrue information and to pay him the compensation of moral damage equal to 40 thousand hryvnas. The publications in the newspaper were devoted to the celebration of the Day of the town. The newspaper published the interview of the head of the budget committee of the town council, who said that 100 thousand hryvnas had to be allotted for the celebration. The budget committee protested against such expenses, but the deputies of the town council approved the program. The opinion was expressed in the editorial comment that it should be more reasonable to allot such great amount of money not for the celebration, but for the salaries of the workers of communal sphere.

The Institute of mass information, “Barometr svobody slova”, June 2003

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Claims of Viktor Medvedchuk against Sergiy Ratushniak and the newspaper “Silski visti”

   

Recently Viktor Medvedchuk brought a suit against MP Sergiy Ratushniak, a former Uzhgorod mayor. S. Ratushniak gave an interview to the Uzhgorod newspaper “RIO”, in which he called the sitting of the pro-presidential deputies’ majority on 21 January 2000 “a velvety-criminal anti-state plot headed by Medvedchuk” and expressed the opinion that “Medvedchuk was guilty of the death of Ukrainian genius Stus, and Medvedchuk’s father – of sending more than 1600 Ukrainians for servitude to Germany”. For these words Medvedchuk handed a claim against Ratushniak. The defendant knew nothing about the claim and the planned consideration of it by court. The process was held in the favorite Medvedchuk’s court – the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv, although the ex-mayor of Uzhgorod is not a Kyiv dweller, and the editorial board of the newspaper “RIO” is situated in the Zakarpatska oblast. In the absence of Sergiy Ratushniak judge Stryzhevska satisfied the demands of the head of President’s administration. So, now Ratushniak can only appeal against the actions of the court…

Medvedchuk handed a claim against out newspaper too. The leader of the SDPU (u) disliked his characterization given by Yulia Timoshenko in one of interviews. V. Medvedchuk decided to have legal proceedings not only with Ms. Timoshenko, but also with “Silski visti” and Vasyl Gruzny, the author of the material.

 («Silski visti», No. 58, 22 May 2003)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation

08.04.2004

Claim of the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine against the newspaper “Vechernie visti”

   

20 May 2003. The Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv rejected the claim of the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine against the newspaper “Vechernie visti” and Sergiy Sukhobok, the author of the article “For what the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine needs its own army?”, which was reprinted by “Vechernie visti” from the Internet-edition “Obkom”. The plaintiff demanded to recompense the moral damage equivalent to 5 million hryvnas.

(«Ukrainske slovo», No. 24, 12-18 June 2003)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. labor conflicts

08.04.2004

A labor conflict: journalist V. Didyk vs. the editor of the Vinnitsa oblast newspaper “Panorama”

   

The claim of journalist V. Didyk against the editor of the Vinnitsa oblast newspaper “Panorama” was considered by court. This labor conflict concerns the non-payment of the fee for the printed materials. The sum of the claim is 200 hryvnas. The district court issued the resolution about the rejection of the claim. The plaintiff handed the appeal complaint to Vinnitsa appeal court.

The Khmelnitska human rights protecting group of the Podilski center of human rights

Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases

08.04.2004

Criminal case was started after the fact of spreading the information about the crime committed by governor Kartashov

   

The prosecutor’s office of Zaporozhye started the criminal case after the fact of spreading the evidently erroneous information about the commitment of a grave crime by governor Evhen Kartashov, a candidate to the post of Zaporozhye mayor.

A UNIAN correspondent communicated that this information was made public by Zaporozhye prosecutor Oleg Skidanov at the last briefing. According to the words of the prosecutor, the reason of starting the criminal case after Article 383 part 2 of the Criminal Code was the distribution in Zaporozhye of a leaflet titled “A point of honor: who killed general Poliak?”. The leaflet had the form of a newspaper without dateline. It read that governor of the Zaporozhye oblast E. Kartashov had the connection with the murder of Zaporozhye mayor Oleksandr Poliak.

O. Skidanov commented the situation: “After the death of Oleksandr Poliak the prosecutor’s office of the Zaporozhskiy district of Zaporozhye conducted the check. As a result the decision was issued to refuse the institution of the criminal case because of the absence of corpus delicti. Later this decision was approved by the Zaporozhye oblast prosecutor’s office and the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine. So, the data contained in the leaflet must be regarded only as spreading the evidently erroneous information and the use of black PR in the struggle for mayor’s post”.

Now the law-enforcing organs of Zaporozhye realize the measures for uncovering the initiators of spreading the leaflet “A point of honor…”.

06 June 2003, UNIAN, http://www.unian.net/ukr/news

0pinions

08.04.2004

German ambassador in Ukraine: “People, who organized the scandal with the purpose of discredit of V. Mostovoy, discredited themselves and damaged the reputation of the state”

   

From the interview of Ditmar Schtudemann, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ukraine to the weekly ”Dzerkalo tyzhnia” (7-13 June 2003)

During the years of independence Ukraine made a number of very important steps and achieved many positive results.

Yet, it would be dishonest to ignore the negative tendencies that worry us very much. Germany never concealed its interest in the democratic and stable Ukraine. So, it is obvious that every election campaign in Ukraine is interpreted as a prelude to the future Presidential election. From this viewpoint we were alarmed with the course of the election of Sumy mayor. In my opinion, it should be expedient, if the Ukrainian top authorities scrupulously analyzed this election campaign and published the materials of the investigation.

The state of the freedom of speech in Ukraine is also rather disturbing. Your journalists and mass media still come across serious difficulties. This problem gained the special importance again in the connection with the scandal around the premium “For freedom and future of mass media”, which was adjudged to Vladimir Mostovoy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dzerkalo tyzhnia”. I am not going to protect Mr. Mostovoy – he does not need this, he is an honest, strong and courageous man. And, undoubtedly, he deserved this premium. That is why I am surprised, when somebody demands from the editor-in-chief of “Dzerkalo tyzhnia” to return the premium. There are no reasons to do that.

Mr. Mostovoy got the premium not because he was threatened. This award is the symbol of the acknowledgement of his professional merits and the professional merits of the collective headed by him. Besides, Mostovoy never affirmed that he was threatened. The statements about the threats were communicated by representatives of German mass media, and I want to explain what these statements meant. They did not say about the intimidation of concrete person. The matter concerned the current situation in Ukraine, when the existing conditions sometimes impede journalists to fulfill their professional duties. We know that the work of representatives of mass media in your country is not easy. This work is connected with overcoming many difficulties, it is not always safe. Everybody knows that during the recent years several journalists were murdered in Ukraine, and the criminals are not found until now.

I want to draw the attention to one more important detail. The work of German public organizations is one of most essential elements of the life of our society: their role is very significant and their authority is very high. And the attempt to involve a German non-governmental foundation into a scandal artificially created around Mostovoy worries me, an official representative of the state. I have no doubts: this conflict is unable to cause damage to the reputation of the foundation or the reputation of V. Mostovoy. Yet, the conflict may inflict damage to the image of your country and, finally, to have a negative influence on the Ukrainian-German relations, which are positive now.

In this situation I am especially disturbed by the fact that the top official of the state is also involved (by his own will or by somebody’s else intrigues) in this scandal. You see, I have the impression that the people, who organized this scandal with the purpose to discredit Mostovoy, discredited themselves and inflicted damage to the reputation of the state. Mind you don’t fall into your own trap, a proverb says. It seems to me that the people, who organized this campaign, had to care about the pluralism of information and the creation of equal conditions for journalists’ work, but not to try to worsen the relations between two friendly countries.

«Dzerkalo tyzhnia»
http://www.zn.kiev.ua/ie/show/446/38770/

0pinions

08.04.2004

Does the freedom of speech exist in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast?

   

Such Internet-poll was conducted by the press service of the oblast state administration on the official site www.gov.if.ua . The results of the poll were the following.

Up to 12 June 47% of respondents, who took part in the interactive voting, answered this question affirmatively; 27% answered that the freedom of speech was absent in the region; 27% could not answer the question. Yet, I believe that the results of the voting on the official site of a power organ could not have any other results.

However, I am surprised with another thing: only 15 respondents took part in the poll. If the heads of district administrations and their deputies voted, the number of the participants would be greater, as well as the number of positive answers. Yet, maybe the Internet is still the eighth world miracle for them?

Igor Mudrik, a journalist

0pinions

08.04.2004

Ivan Chizh, the head of the State committee of information:

   

The increase of the activity of journalists in the protection of their rights and freedoms is caused not only by a number of tragic events, but also by the necessity of changing the attitude to journalism as such. The Ukrainian journalism extremely needs the positive image, because today, one must recognize, this image is rather negative. The Ukrainian journalistic corporation splits into different, sometimes openly antagonistic, camps.

The intensive attention to the freedom of speech in Ukraine on the side of international organizations, and not only journalistic ones, is praiseworthy. Yet, whether these observers did something really useful for the Ukrainian journalists? For some reasons, our colleagues from abroad persistently do not notice the positive moments, although, if to think logically, they must exist. And, fortunately, these positive moments do exist! The laws are adopted on the protection of the professional rights of journalists and of their life. Only journalists, along with law-enforcers, have the right to carry weapons. According to the operating laws, a state official may not refuse the access to information, which is not related to state secrets, to a worker of mass media. Besides, the pluralism of opinions exists in Ukraine. Maybe, this pluralism is even too developed, because if it had a merely declarative character, then we would not debate now on the ways of protecting the informational space of Ukraine from the appreciable foreign influence. And the situation in this sphere is extremely dangerous: the almost complete commercialization of the informational space resulted in the rapid development of the industry of popular, but very far from the interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation, mass media.

 («Narodna spravedlivist», No. 22, June 2003)

0pinions

08.04.2004

From the open letter of the Association of the party press to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

   

Recently the international image of Ukraine was undermined for the umpteenth time. Again, because of the unknown reasons, we occupied one of the last places by the level of the freedom of the press. Even after our government adopted the Law on the unhindered realization of the citizens’ right for the freedom of speech and legally defined the term “censorship”, some anonymous experts from “Freedom House” fixed “the further deterioration of the situation with the freedom of mass media in Ukraine”. And some time later “Amnesty International” breathed on the reputation of our country declaring about “the violations of citizens’ right for free access to information” that allegedly existed in our country.

We reckon that the monitoring and the expert activities in the sphere of mass media on the territory of Ukraine must be realized not only by international organizations or some small groups of Ukrainian journalists, but by editorial collectives of almost 400 party periodicals, which reflect the entire spectrum of political opinions, but are united in their patriotic feelings. The party journalists are permanently working in the epicenter of the political life. Their generalized observations and conclusions would be able not only to guarantee the transparency and democracy of the results, but also (and that is the most important task) to promote the unbiased estimation and the ways of the development of democracy in Ukraine.

(«Narodna spravedlivist», No. 22, June 2003)

0pinions

08.04.2004

What is the proportion of lie in the free press?

   

Recently MP V. Potapov took part in a live broadcast. S. Gabrielov, a deputy of the Kupiansk town council and the editor of our newspaper, put a question to him about the freedom of speech, and V. Potapov answered: “The editor of “Frant” has so much freedom that he writes everything he can. His newspaper contains 50% of lie”. Thank you, respected Mr. Potapov, for the wonderful publicity. “The Washington Post”, one of the most respected newspaper in the USA, publishes, according to the data of American experts, 25-30% of authentic information. So, we are much better.

We remember well the significant date for our collective – 1 February 2001, when “Frant” published its first critical article. This article presented our own opinion about the local live TV broadcast with the participation of town top officials.

 («Frant», Kupiansk-Uzlovoy, the Kharkov oblast, No. 20, 8 May 2003)

Self-regulation

08.04.2004

“The Forum of journalists of Ukraine. Legal self-protection” will be conducted in Kyiv on 10 June

   

“The Forum of journalists of Ukraine. Legal self-protection” will be conducted on 10 June 2003 at 11 a.m. by the address: 57 Volodymirska St., Kyiv. Organizers: the Institute of mass information jointly with the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the questions of the freedom of speech and information. The action is supported by the Foundation “Vidrodjennia”.

The following topics will be considered at the forum:

-  struggle against the impediment to legal professional activities of journalists, including censorship;

-  guaranteeing the right for information;

-  struggle against the claims against mass media and journalists;

-  struggle against the economic pressure on journalists and mass media.

The booklet “Legal self-protection of journalists” published with the support of the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia” will be presented at the forum. The booklet concerns the questions of practical protection of the rights of journalists and mass media under the conditions of the legal system existing in Ukraine.

You can obtain more detailed information by phones: (044) 212-12-26, 461-90-23

The Institute of mass information, imi.org

Self-regulation

08.04.2004

What were the conclusions of the Forum of journalists “Legal protection” that convoked the representatives of more than 170 Ukrainian regional mass media?

   

The first conclusion was that the pressure on mass media still exists in Ukraine, such as attacks on journalists, claims against mass media with the astronomic recompensing sums, refusals to render information, refusals in accreditation of independent mass media, supplanting of labor collectives from the lists of owners of mass media by the organs of state power and local self-rule, pressure on the owners, dumping the prices for the subscription and advertising on the side of state editions, pressure on the advertisers, etc.

The existence of the censorship at state TV was corroborated by the speech of journalist Igor Rutich, the ex-editor of the feature “Territoria bezpeki” prepared by the Ministry of Defense for the First National Channel. Rutich told about the shameful practice of issuing the features prepared by state agencies. Oleksandr Savenko, the head of the National TV company of Ukraine, also spoke about this practice. The style of these features, according to the words of Savenko, is wooden; moreover, they are permanently censored by the special officials from the interested agencies, not to mention the anonymous “temniks”.

Yet, here the author of the “temniks” is known: the Directorate of educational work of the Ministry of Defense. The journalist stated that on 6 May the speeches of MPs Viktor Yushchenko (“Nasha Ukraina”) and Georgiy Kriuchkov (CPU) were cut out from the feature about the military cooperation with the NATO after the order of the Ministry. The journalist informed about this fact only after he was fired. Yet, he affirms that such practice existed before and still exists. At that the Directorate of the Ministry of Defense has the right to summon journalists and to reprimand them.

However, the organizers of the Forum (the Institute of mass information, the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the questions of the freedom of speech and information, the Public Council) did their best to create the opportunity not only for discussing the problems of mass media in the country, but also for obtaining the practical knowledge about the methods of protection. According to Maria Sambur, a lawyer of the IMI, the level of legal knowledge of journalists has essentially increased during recent two years. Yet, sometimes the journalists make compromises on the basis of the theses about the inefficiency and long duration of court proceedings for protecting the right for their professional activities.

Thus, the corporative education will become an important step towards the improvement of the existing situation. The organizers of the Forum plan to organize such educational actions regularly. The Forum must become a tradition, and the next sitting of the Forum will be held in September.

A special booklet “Legal self-protection of journalists” was prepared before the Forum. The booklet contains some practical recommendations: from the instructions how to compile a writ, petition or cassation appeal to the useful advices on the tactics of defense in court.

At the Forum the journalists had the opportunity to get the consultations of lawyers, to discuss the successful examples of self-protection. Alas, such experience had been rather bitter for everybody, who managed to complete the affair. The journalists say that such situation is caused not only by the absence of the sufficient legal knowledge, but also by the persistent neglect of operating laws by the officials and the absence of the corporative solidarity among journalists.

It is obvious that the time of strikes and protests has not passed yet for the regional press, this is the very beginning, and such activities are necessary. The efficiency of protests was demonstrated by Bukovina journalists. “Telekritika” already wrote about the picket organized by 200 journalists in May. The journalists, together with their families, came to the building of the oblast state administration to protest against the administrative methods of governor Teofil Bauer. This action has some positive results: Pavlo Kobevko, the editor of the Bukovina newspaper “Chas”, informed the Forum that the governor recalled his recent claims against mass media.

Yet, Ludmila Kucherenko, the head of the Poltava media club, pointed out that it would be impossible to gather 200 journalists to a protest action in the Poltava oblast. She said that the situation with the freedom of speech in the region was shameful. The Poltava governor dared to state publicly that the newspaper “Informatsiyny bulleten” would never have a chance to be printed inside the oblast. For four years the newspaper is printed semi-legally, and, according to the words of editor Tamara Prosianik, they had to commit a deliberate offence and did not named in the dateline the printing shop, which agreed to print the newspaper. Before this they had to find new printing shops almost every month: some shops refused to print the newspaper “because of the absence of technical facilities”, and sometimes (more often) the run was seized from the printing shops by law-enforcers. The number of the claims against this newspaper is incredible: sometimes three claims were considered during one week. The last claim was handed by an honored journalist of Ukraine, who demanded to recompense the moral damage inflicted to him and to refute the statement of Tetiana Prosianik, who said that earlier he had been a master of journalism, but his level essentially decreased now.

Yet, the positive results of the struggle for the right for the professional activities exist in this region too. For example, the independent journalists were not admitted to the session of the oblast council. Then the Poltava media club created the Public committee for the protection of the freedom of speech, and the oblast authorities were invited to the committee for the meetings with the press. The newspaper “Novy den”, which had been founded by the Poltava media club, also obtained the refusal from the printing shops “Kobeliaki” and “Poltava”. The motive was rather obvious: “the current situation does not allow to continue the cooperation”, read the telegram signed by the printing shop manager. Ludmila Kucherenko asserts that the pressure was exerted on the shop by the oblast directorate in charge of the press. The refusal to fulfill the contract on printing became the reason for bringing a suit to the economic court by the founders of the newspaper. The Kharkov appeal court obliged these enterprises to print the newspaper. Ludmila Kucherenko also handed the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation against the oblast directorate in charge of the press, which spread the information about the alleged commitment of three crimes by Kucherenko. Three years ago this information caused her dismissal, and now she demands to recompense the moral damage. The Poltava media club also achieved the signature of the contract with “Ukrposhta” (the main Ukrainian post service. – Translator’s note) about the distribution of the Kyiv newspaper “Svoboda” edited by Oleg Liashko.

Owing to the support of Mykhaylo Aksaniuk, the head of the Odessa independent trade union, and the IMI the newspaper “Veksel” (Yuzhny, the Odessa oblast) managed to win four trials: against the Odessa mayor, his deputy, the administrative department and the manager of a communal enterprise. After the proper publications and the visit of the IMI lawyer the mayor recalled his claim.

The Khmelnitska oblast newspaper “Fortetsia” was founded five years ago and was rather independent for some time. Now the pressure is exerted on the edition through its co-founders – a Kamianets-Podilskiy enterprise. Olga Zhmudovska, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, says that she understands now that the financial independence is a necessary condition of the political independence of an edition. However, how to solve the conflict between the editorial collective and the co-founders?

The existence at somebody’s expense is very convenient for our mass media that are rather poor. Yet, as Oleg Liashko, the editor of the newspaper “Svoboda”, correctly remarked, would the journalists (for example of the channel “NBM”) be able to present the investigation of the question whether Petro Poroshenko actually “earned money for the election by washing the income taxes in Trans- Dniestr region”? “The words “oppositional” and “independent” are not synonymous”, remarked the editor-in-chief of “Svoboda”. A journalist must be independent of the power, opposition and financial groups.

The greatest number of questions appears in the connection with the relations of the press and court power.

There was an unprecedented incident in the Ukrainian court practice: the decision issued by judge Matviyshina of the Leninskiy district court of Lugansk about the seizure of property and ten subsequent issues of the newspaper “Rakurs plus” for securing the 100-thousand claim of Vladimir Medianik, a deputy of the town council. This incident occurred in past September. The most interesting peculiarity of the decision was that the judge passed the seized property for storage... to the plaintiff. The reason of the claim was the publication on 21 August 2002 in the newspaper “Rakurs plus” of the letter of parents’ committee of one of Lugansk schools. The parents wrote that they had turned to deputy Vladimir Medianik asking for help, but got no response. The businessman’s claim on the protection of honor and dignity has not been considered yet, but the decision of the judge was cancelled. Yet, it appeared to be impossible to return the property to the edition. The seizure of ten issues of the newspaper resulted in the termination of its existence. The editors merely registered the new edition “Novy Rakurs”. In fact, it is the third attempt to realize the right for the professional activities, since Mykola Severin, the editor-in-chief of “Novy Rakurs”, started his work in the newspaper “Rakurs”. The IMI lawyer Maria Sambur reckons that the registration of new editions is not the best way out. In this case the journalists had to struggle till the last gun was fired, since they could win this case.

According to the information given by Tetiana Chornomaz, a correspondent of the radio “Liberty” in the Cherkassy oblast, in the case after the claim of MP Petro Kuzmenko (SDPU(u)) against the Uman newspaper “Ulyk”, the judge forced the defendants to agree to pay to the claimant at least 3 thousand hryvnas, instead of 10 thousand that were demanded as the compensation. The chairman of the court told that he was dependent on the plaintiff, who was an MP.

Yaroslav Tkachivskiy, the editor of the Ivano-Frankivsk weekly “Tyzhnevyk Galytchyny”, waits for the consideration of the cassation complaint in the Supreme Court for eight months. The statistics evidences that the claims against mass media are considered quickly, and the consideration of journalists’ claims  (against the organs of state power of other organs) lasts for months. So, it is no wonder that judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine Ivan Dombrovskiy spoke very much about the necessity of creating the conditions for the independent justice.

The attacks on journalists are not investigated properly. Crimean journalist Oleksiy Ermolin (the newspaper “Krymskie novosti”) informed that an attack was committed on him on 11 April in Simferopol. Before this he had been conducting the investigation of the conflict between the inhabitants of Gurzuf and the manager of the recreation camp “Artek”. The latter warned the journalist: “Be careful, when you will write about this”. Oleksiy believes that the attack was somewhat connected with this warning. Yet, the law-enforcers, who investigate the case, are persistently ignoring this version.

The investigation of the attack on Oleksandr Pomoynitskiy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dilovy Pereyaslav”, committed on 26 May, is also ineffectual. The journalist still stays in a hospital with the cerebral brain concussion, closed cranial trauma and other grave injuries. Yesterday we learned about the attack on Dnepropetrovsk journalist Volodymir Belov. He got 15 knife wounds. The main version of militia is that the attack was caused by some everyday reasons, “Interfax-Ukraina” communicates.

It seems that in the cases of the attacks at journalists the version about the attack because of the professional activities must be considered first of all. This idea was discussed at the Forum along with other ones.

An interesting initiative was presented by Efim Marmer, the editor of the Kirovograd edition “Ukraina-tsentr”. He proposed to create the expert council for the surveillance over the consideration of cassation complaints in the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

By the way, Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, insisted on the conduction of the special Plenum of the Supreme Court on the questions of the application of the laws on information. The comments of the Supreme Court about the application of the European Convention on the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms and the practices of the European Court of human rights are especially important.

Efim Marmer proposed one more form: signing the Memorandum between mass media and the head of the oblast council (oblast state administration) on the basic principles of the co-existence of the media and power. The European standards of the cooperation must be reflected in the Memorandum. The discussion on the problems of the cooperation is going on, and “Telekritika” invites everybody to take part in the discussion.

The stories about the problems of the regional journalists were very sad. Yet, the journalists unanimously confirmed the necessity of permanent contacts, exchange of experience and problems.

The elaboration of the joint strategy of struggle against any pressure on journalists or mass media is the main task today.

12 June 2003, Oksana Lysenko, the independent media trade union,
http://www.profspilka.org.ua  

Self-regulation

08.04.2004

On 10 June the political agreement on mutual understanding between the owners and journalists’ collective of the TV and radio company “Ekspress-inform” will be signed

   

For the first time in the history of Ukrainian mass media the political agreement on the mutual understanding between the owners and journalists’ collective of the TV and radio company “Ekspress-inform” according to the principles of editorial policy will be signed.

It will be announced about the beginning of the new joint information project of the TRC “Ekspress-inform”, TRC “NBM” and the public organization “Fund of media initiatives”.

Place and time of the signature: 57 Volodymirska St., Kyiv, at 10 a.m., before the beginning of the work of the Forum of journalists.

Participants of the signature ceremony: Petro Poroshenko, an MP (the fraction “Nasha Ukraina”), the honorary president of “Ukrprominvest”; Vladislav Liasovskiy, the manager of the “Ekspress-inform”; Ivan Adamchuk, the manager of the TRC “NBM”; Roman Skrypin, the head of the public organization “Fund of media initiatives”.

Invitees: ambassadors of the European countries and the USA, members of the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting, MPs, head of the State committee of information, head of the Union of journalist of Ukraine, top managers of TV channels, etc.

Information given by the Fund of media initiatives.
06 June 2003, http://www.telekritika.kiev.ua/news  

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004

The Congress of businessmen of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast started to realize the project “Human rights and the freedom of the press”

   

The project “Human rights and the freedom of the press” began to work in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. The project is supported by the National Endowment for democracy at the USA Embassy in Ukraine. The main tasks of the project are to disclose the violations in this sphere and to inform the public about human rights and the freedom of the press. The project is realized by the Congress of businessmen of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast with the assistance of the newspaper “Aktsenty”, which gave the entire page for this topic.

The realization of the project was discussed at the round table “The place and role of mass media in legal protection and legal education of population”. Head of the project Volodymir Totaru, the chairman of the Congress, informed that the creation of correspondent’s stations was planned in Kosivskiy, Nadvirnianskiy and Verkhovinskiy districts, that the competition was announced for the best article and journalist’s investigation in this sphere. Three groups of volunteers will be also formed, who will spread the materials on the international standards of human rights and the freedom of the press and will familiarize with the situation in various districts.

(«Galychyna», No. 83-84, 5 June 2003)

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, №06

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