Freedom of Expression in Ukraine
Monitoring of local mass media in 5 towns of the Prykarpatskiy region
The monitoring of local mass media, which that was carried out in 5 towns of the Prykarpatskiy region, showed that there were no independent mass media in four of these towns (except Burshtyn). For instance, the newspaper “Ratusha” (Bolekhiv) was founded by the town council, and the editor and journalists of this edition are officially employed by this power organ.
Administration of the mass media, which were visited by the representatives of the newspaper “Vikna”, did not regard the privatization of communal and state mass media as panacea, and openly protested against it. Journalists do not conflict with the administration of mass media, since they are absolutely law-abiding, as well as the editions themselves. Almost all provincial mass media have the same problems: pay arrears (since February), inadequate technical base, low salaries and, sometimes, the unbearable work conditions. In particular, the Galytsky district radio company, which is situated in one building with the shop “Seed”, works without the license since March 2003 and without the accountant, who left the company in December 2002. However, the journalists dare to protest only in private talks.
Local printed editions religiously obey “temniks” – the recommendations spread by the Directorate in charge of the press and information. After the appointment of a new editor of the newspaper “Golos opislia” (Rogatin), all heads of the departments were dismissed because of bad financing. Among them journalist Miron Melnik was dismissed, who now has legal proceedings with the administration of the newspaper. He believes that the dismissal violated his journalists rights, that is was caused by his disobedience and publication of critical materials that displeased the new editor.
Salaries in local mass media faintly exceed the minimum wage.
The situation in Burshtyn is much more optimistic. A private TV company exists there, which successfully competes with town mass media. The existence of the TV company “RAI” proves that private mass media can exist even in small provincial towns. The TV company has modern office, digital equipment and decent salaries.
Oksana Guzinets-Mudrik, the newspaper “Vikna”, Kalush, the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, July 2003
71% of the Ukrainian citizens reckon that political censorship exists at TV and in the press
These data were presented by the Ukrainian democratic group, which, on 26 June-7 July, conducted the all-Ukrainian poll by the request of the Institute of politics. 100 respondents were questioned in all regions of Ukraine. The respondents believe that some events are elucidated and commented in details, and others are either hushed up or elucidated from the negative point of view. Only 11% did not agree with that. According to the results of the poll, the censorship is practiced by the Administration of the President of Ukraine (46% of the respondents), administration of TV channels and newspapers (25%), owners of TV channels and newspapers (23%) and the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting (23%). 59% of the respondents are sure that the political censorship exists at the TV channel “UT-1”, 56% -- at the channel “1+1”, 55% -- at the channel “Inter”. Only 13% of the participants of the poll reckon that the absolute freedom of speech exists in Ukraine. Every fifth respondent pointed out the absence of the freedom of speech, every second answered that there were some problems with the freedom of speech in Ukraine. 56% believe that the problems with the freedom of speech are caused by the violations of the operating legal norms by the organs of executive power (37% -- central organs and 19% -- local organs), and 13% -- by the imperfection of the legislative base.
(«Silski Visti », No. 83, 18 July 2003)
The respondents believe that the TV channels ICTV, STB and “Novy kanal” are least controlled by censors. 31%, 28% and 27%, correspondently, told that these channels underwent censorship. The experts think that this result is caused by the comparatively narrow broadcasting zones of these channels.
Every sixth respondent reckons that the political censorship is put into practice by the Supreme Rada, every seventh – by the Cabinet of Ministers, and every eleventh – by journalists themselves.
(«Ukraina moloda», No. 128, 18 July 2003)
Open appeal to the President of Ukraine in the connection with the new law on the introduction of changes into the laws concerning the protection of state secrets
Igor Lubchenko, the head of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine, Nikolay Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, Natalya Ligachova (site “Telekritika), Aleksandr Paliy (secretariat of the Public council in charge of the freedom of speech and information) and Valeriy Ivanov (Academy of the Ukrainian press) turned to President Leonid Kuchma with the open appeal.
The appeal reads that the new law on the introduction of changes into the normative acts concerning the protection of state secrets introduces the term “confidential information owned by the state”. The right for information is reduced to the right to obtain, use, spread and store the information “with the open access”. According to the law, the USS gets a number of additional authorities in the sphere of the ODA. Authors of the appeal state that the provisions of the mentioned law contradict to the norms of the Ukrainian Constitution and international legal standards in the sphere of guaranteeing the freedom of speech and the open access to information.
“Thus, the interpretation of the right for the freedom of speech contained in the considered version of the law, which has been adopted by the Parliament, significantly diminishes the amount of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, which is inadmissible”, reads the appeal. In the accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On information”, in some peculiar cases the information with the restricted access may be made public, the appealers remind. In their opinion, the abolition of this decision “will not promote the stable development of democracy in Ukraine”. It is also declared that the state may not own all confidential information, but only the information, which is related to state secrets. The state may possess the confidential information owned by other persons. The regime of using such information is “strictly defined by operating laws”.
The law also envisages the administrative responsibility for violating the order of registration, storage and use of the documents containing “confidential information owned by the state”. Every citizen can be a subject of this offence. At the same time, only that person is brought to responsibility, which had the access to the information or possessed the state secret because of his/her professional activities.
However, the USS head Vladimir Radchenko advises to journalists to be careful when using any information.
(«Segodnia», No. 157, 17 July 2003)
(See also — «Ukraina moloda», No. 128, 18 July 2003)
Ukrainian agency of authors rights plans to get 502 thousand UAH from TV companies
The function of the Ukrainian agency of authors and adjacent rights (UAAAR) consists in the pre-trial and court consideration of the cases connected with the payment of authors emoluments. The agency works in all oblasts of Ukraine, in Kyiv and the Crimean republic.
During 2001 the juridical department of the UAAAR took part in the consideration of 42 cases on collecting the authors emoluments from users; more than 300 thousand hryvnas were collected.
In 2002 the juridical department considered 78 cases on the total sum of 1.4 millions hryvnas. All in all, in 2002 the department worked with 78 claims against theaters, circuses, philharmonics, TV and radio companies connected with the non-payment of royalties to authors for public performance of their compositions or the use of the compositions without the agreements with authors. There were 6 cases concerning the invalid state registration.
On the basis of the Law of Ukraine “On authors and adjacent rights” and the instructions of the State department of intellectual property, the UAAAR conducts the monitoring of TV and radio space concerning the observance of authors and adjacent rights by the users of the objects of these rights. According to the results of the monitoring, a number of the violations of authors rights were disclosed. 12 claims against TV channels were compiled on the total sum of 502 thousand hryvnas.
The UAAAR presented 11 claims on the sum of 113.7 thousand UAH (among them 4 suits on 80.8 thousand UAH) after the complaints of the authors, who had turned to the agency.
The total amount of the claims and suits in 2001-2002 was 2.2 million hryvnas. 500 thousand hryvnas were collected, these money were transferred to the UAAAR accounts and paid to the authors.
State department of intellectual property
28 July 2003, Institute of mass information, www.imi.org
Journalists and editor-in-chief left the newspaper “Krymskie novosti”
The collective of the weekly “Krymskie novosti” left the edition. The appeal of the collective of the informational-analytical weekly “Krymskie novosti” was published on the first page of the last issue of this influential Crimean edition. The journalists stated that they, together with their editor-in-chief Natalya Panasenko, left the newspaper because of the pressure exerted on them by the owners of the newspaper. The weekly is published since 2001, now its run is 8500 thousand copies, it is very popular and influential in the political and power circles of the autonomous republic. By the unofficial information, the newspaper is owned by the persons close to Crimean prime-minister Sergey Kunitsyn. Along with the comparatively unbiased analysis of the political situation in the region and throughout the country, “Krymskie novosti” conducted journalists investigations. The materials about the misuses connected with the land at the Southern coast of the Crimea were very resonant. After the publication of these materials the journalists were threatened more than once, and one of them, Oleksey Ermolin, was even attacked by strangers.
2 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
IMI request about the case of Yaroslav Tkachivskiy
The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) sent an informational request to the militia directorate of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. The request concerned the case of Yaroslav Tkachivskiy, the IMI representative in the oblast. In May and July 2003 the Ivano-Frankivsk town militia directorate, referring to the Laws of Ukraine “On the ODA” and “On militia”, directed to the Tysmenitsa district court the requests about the information concerning the consideration of Tkachivskiys criminal case. This is confirmed by letters No. 2117 of 05 May 03 and No. 3673 of 17 July 03, which are contained in the materials of the case. The IMI regards this fact as intimidation of its representative and asks the militia directorate to inform whether the law-enforcing organs of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast conduct the investigating activities connected with Yaroslav Tkachivskiy, and for what and on the basis of which normative acts the town militia directorate needs the information about this case.
29 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Unusual tax check in “Lvivska gazeta”
1. Leaders of “Lvivska gazeta” conducted a press conference, at which they declared that the pressure had been exerted on their newspaper by the State tax administration (STA) of the Lviv oblast during a plan tax check of the edition. “Unfortunately, the methods applied by the tax officers testified that they had some other goals except the routine check of documents. It seems that this was a part of the total pressure on the newspaper, which, in our opinion, has the political reasons”, the newspaper collective states. According to the words of editor-in-chief Oleg Onisko, the plan check has been carried out since 6 June. The editor insists that the tax inspection makes its best to destroy the newspaper. In particular, he tells, the representatives of the tax inspection checked all companies, which have the agreement with the newspaper, and the firms, which were merely mentioned in the edition. Yuri Nazaruk, the commercial manager of “Lvivska gazeta”, informed the IMI that the representatives of tax inspection exerted pressure also on the private distributors of the newspaper. “80% of these people have not and never had the license for selling newspapers, but the tax inspection notices that only when the distributors start to sell our newspaper”, he pointed out. O. Onisko explains the political motives of this situation: association “Dzyga”, the founder of the newspaper, is loyal to the fraction “Nasha Ukraina”.
Sergiy Medvedchuk, the head of tax administration of the Lviv oblast, stated at the press conference that “Lvivska gazetra” underwent “a usual plan check”, and that all appeals and articles concerning the newspaper were, in his opinion, “an advertising trick for increasing the run”.
The IMI directed a request to Yuri Kravchenko, the head of the STA of Ukraine. Unfortunately, the editorial board did not turn to the IMI in time with the request to take part in the check. So, the IMI cannot apply the Memorandum signed by the IMI and the STA of Ukraine, since this document envisages the participation of the IMI in the plan checks, if the editorial board agrees this question with both the IMI and STAU in 10 days.
18 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
2. Open appeal of the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta”
The editorial board of the Lviv newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” must make public the appeal concerning the situation that was observed during the regular tax check of our newspaper. Unfortunately, the methods used by the tax officers testified that they had some other goals, not only the routine check of documents. This is a part of the total pressure on the newspaper, which, in our opinion, has the political reasons.
During the tax check the inspectors phoned to the advertisers and partners of our newspaper. Later we learned that it was caused by the mentioning of various firms not only in the advertisements, but also in common articles. These people were summoned for talk, the tax officers demanded from them to present the documents on the cooperation with our edition. At the same time, similar documents of the newspaper were not examined. Service cars of “Lvivska gazeta” are permanently escorted by the representatives of tax inspection. The private salesmen of newspapers are questioned about the number of copies that they get and sell. At that, only those salesmen are checked, who sell the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta”. The inspectors explain honestly that the sale of this newspaper is the reason for the checks.
There is another interesting fact: the illegal tax checks of the cultural-creative center “Dzyga”, a founder of “Lvivska gazeta”. The tax officers work without proper documents, and this, according to the operating laws, may be a reason for starting a criminal case. They orally demand to show them the internal documents of the firm and refuse to prove the legality of their demands. They even refuse to introduce themselves. The local officials of the State Tax Administration do not respond to the written requests from “Lvivska gazeta” and “Dzyga”.
Several days ago a significant incident occurred in Kolomyia (the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast), which demonstrated “the professionalism and objectivity” of the tax officers. A small trader, who, among other editions, sells the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” was accused of the cooperation with our edition since March 2000. The absurdity of the situation lay in the fact that the first issue of our newspaper was published on 16 September 2001, and the newspaper began to be sold in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast only in spring of 2003.
We suppose that the current situation is a consequence of the principal position of “Lvivska gazeta” and the publication of the series of the materials containing the unbiased information concerning some representatives of tax inspection and people close to them. We also think that the actions of tax officers are a part of the campaign directed at “settling the order” in the informational space of Lviv and the Western Ukraine on the eve of Presidential election.
It is extremely difficult to work and to publish a daily newspaper under the conditions of permanent tension and mental stress.
The editorial board of “Lvivska gazeta” has already turned to the National Union of journalists of Ukraine (Igor Lubchenko), Monitoring Committee of the PACE (Hanne Severinsen) and profile committee of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine (Mykola Tomenko) asking to help the newspaper in this situation.
(“Prava ludyny” (English version), July 2003)
Appeal of G. Omelchenko, the head of the temporary special commission of the Supreme Rada for the investigation of murders of journalists Georgiy Gongadze and Igor Aleksandrov
G. Omelchenko, the head of the temporary special commission of the Supreme Rada for the investigation of murders of journalists Georgiy Gongadze and Igor Aleksandrov, stated in the Parliament that General Prosecutor of Ukraine Sviatoslav Piskun had the information about the participants of kidnapping and murder of Gongadze. Omelchenko communicated with Piskun on 24 June, and the latter told that that the participants of kidnapping and murder of G. Gongadze were found. On 28 June the newspaper “Segodnia” published the article “The murderer of Gongadze is, probably, arrested”. The author of the article referred to the data got by the newspaper from the confidential sources and informed that “an officer of one of the force structures of Ukraine is suspected of G. Gongadzes murder” and that “this man is either arrested or is going to be arrested in the nearest future”. Besides, the publication reads: “militiamen transported two men from Lviv, who are suspected of the murder of Igor Aleksandrov. These men were members of an organized criminal group, so, more people will be detained in the connection with this case”. On 4 July, in his interview to the Kyiv correspondent of the newspaper “Vremia novostey”, G. Omelchenko declared: “The special commission, which investigates the case of Gongadze along with the General Prosecutors office, established that the kidnapping had been organized by President Leonid Kuchma, former head of Presidents administration Volodymir Litvin, ex-head of the USS Leonid Derkach and former Minister of Interior Yuri Kravchenko”.
“The kidnapping and murder were committed by militia officers. This is confirmed by the audio records made by major Nikolay Melnochenko, an officer of Kuchmas guard. These materials will be passed to the General Prosecutors office for the legal assessment”, told G. Omelchenko. He also pointed out: “The day, when the President ordered to kidnap Gongadze was reconstructed in details. We know who visited the President that day. The talks of the visitors of Presidents office are fixed on Melnichenkos records in the chronological order. These persons listened to the records and confirmed everything. Now the President cannot deny that he talked with Kravchenko and Derkach about the kidnapping of Gongadze. The authenticity of this fragment of the record was confirmed by the American experts”.
On 14 July, at the press conference, General Prosecutor S. Piskun told that the law-enforcing organs were still trying to learn whether the so-called “gang of turnskins” had been involved in Gongadzes murder. He also informed that the General Prosecutors office disclosed 14 murders committed by this gang, which was headed by militia officers. The members of this criminal group are also suspected of the disappearance of many people. The General Prosecutor pointed out that the case of this gang would be passed to court within 2-3 months. Last year the Kyiv militia disclosed the criminal group, which had been acting since 1997 and included several former militiamen. Now the accusations have been brought against 13 members of this gang, among them – six ex-militiamen. The criminals mainly “specialized” in kidnapping. Yet, most often, the criminals murdered their victims before obtaining the ransom.
1 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Investigation of the death of V. Efremov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Sobor”
Vladimir Efremov, a representative of the Institute of mass information in Dnepropetrovsk and the editor-in-chief of the Dnepropetrovsk newspaper “Sobor”, perished in a road accident. He was driving to Kyiv, when his car bumped into a truck and burnt down. This happened on 14 July 2003. On 13 October 2001 V. Efermov wrote in the newspaper “Golos Ukrainy”: “For the first time during thirty years of my work as a journalist I am writing because I am afraid. I am afraid of a senseless death. Yet, I am afraid even more that my death will be presented as an accidental one: “murder by drug addicts”, “murder for robbery” or “a tragic road accident”.”
His daughter Yulia Efremova affirms that recently her father has been very nervous because of some strange phone calls. About a month ago the investigating officers from the USA came to him in the connection with Lazarenkos case. The officers interrogated him, and he gave the consent to appear in court. On 17 July advocate Marina Dovgopola confirmed in her interview to the agency “Interfax-Ukraine” that P. Lazarenkos advocates really met Vladimir Efremov on the case of the ex-prime-minister. According to her information, this meeting took place during the first visit of the advocate to Ukraine in March-April of the current year. American advocate Harold Rosenthal also confirmed the information about the plans of Efremov to appear in court. In the comment prepared for “Ukrainska Pravda” he called Efremov “one of the central witnesses in this case”. At the request of the IMI, the USA Embassy checked this information through its sources in the American government. According to the information of the embassy, the advocates actually proposed Efremov as a witness, but the court did not agree. The IMI workers conduct the journalists investigation of the death of their colleague. Owing to our efforts the criminal case was started, and the family of the journalist was acknowledged to be victims. The IMI helped to organize the expertise of the remnants of the burnt car, but the results of the expertise are not ready yet. The IMI lawyer Maria Sambur meet a number of people, among them: the mechanic, who examined the car three days before the tragedy, the driver of the truck, in which journalists car bumped, and eye-witnesses of the accident. It appeared that there existed a professional video record of the accident. Now the IMI has this video record, which will be officially passed to the investigation.
Vladimir Efremov worked as a journalist of the Institute of mass information in Dnepropetrovsk for last three years. Before this he was the editor-in-chief of the Dnepropetrovsk newspaper “Sobor” owned by the Dnepropetrovsk oblast council, headed the 11th TV channel, informational agency “Sobor” and the newspaper “Dnepropetrovsk”. In 1999, most probably because of the conflict with some influential political figures, he stayed in custody for several days under the pretext of the allegedly incorrectly registered bank credit, and, little by little, he lost the control over the media business. In May 2001 the newspaper “Sobor” was driven out from the rented building, and in September 2001 the Dnepropetrovsk oblast council took the decision about the liquidation of the newspaper. According to this decision, editor-in-chief V. Efremov had to be dismissed after the liquidation. The procedure of liquidation is not finished yet. In November 2002 Efremov turned to court with the claim against the Dnepropetrovsk oblast council on the payment of wages for the liquidation period. The trial was assigned on 1 September, and, in the opinion of specialists, Efremov had good chances to win the case.
14 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Vladimir Efremov was the founder and owner of one of the most popular Dnepropetrovsk TV channels “11 kanal”, which was loyal to Pavlo Lazarenko, who was the head of the oblast state administration at that time. During the conflict of Mr. Lazarenko with President Kuchma the TV channel openly took the part of Lazarenko. Yet, when P. Lazarenko escaped to the USA, Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of the President, became interested in this media resource. The TV channel was taken away from Efremov: there was a great scandal accompanied with court proceedings. It is known that the journalist and the oligarch have not come to the agreement until now.
On 14 July the car of Vladimir Efremov collided with a truck, which was driven by Pavlo Pinchuk.
The place of the accident seems to be accursed. People, who worked for Pavlo Lazarenko used to get into accidents there. For example, the car of Mykhaylo Golyshev, the experienced head of Lazarenkos press service both in the oblast and in the Cabinet of Ministers, fall there into ditch for unknown reasons.
As it became known, details of the tragedy will be investigated by Andrey Zinchuk, an officer of the Verkhnedneprovskiy district militia precinct.
(«Ukraina moloda», No. 126, 16 July 2003)
Third attempt at the life of the editor of the newspaper “Tikhiy uzhas” (Lubny)
The General Prosecutors office of Ukraine, according to the order of President Leonid Kuchma, realized a number of actions for the investigation of the attack on the house of Vasiliy Koriaka, the editor of the newspaper “Tikhiy uzhas” and a former mayor of Lubny (the Poltava oblast). The attack took place on 17 June 2003. Lubny militia department instituted the criminal case after Article 296 part 4 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (hooliganism with application of firearms). Besides, last week the prosecutors office of the Poltava oblast started two more criminal cases, in particular after the article “Premeditated destruction or damage of property that inflicted serious material losses”. The investigation considers several versions, among them the crime committed because of the professional activities of the journalist. Vasiliy Koriaka is sure that the attack was caused by his critical articles against the Poltava governor.
This was the third attempt at the life of V. Koriaka. In 1996 a grenade exploded near his house, and in 1998 a stranger fired a riffle at his car. Neither of these attempts was disclosed.
The General Prosecutors office controls the investigation of the latter crime and the ODA conducted by law-enforcing organs.
(«Fakty», No. 124, 15 July 2003)
Attack on Anatoliy Naumov (Zaporozhye)
Anatoliy Naumov, the acting general manager of the Zaporozhye oblast weekly “Dosye”, was attacked in Zaporozhye. According to the words of Valeriy Poliushko, the chief-editor of the newspaper, the attack was committed about 20:30 in the doorway of the apartment house where Naumov lived. Poliushko told: “That evening Naumov went to a shop. When he returned to the house, the door of the house was unlocked, and the light was switched off. The journalist entered the house and was hit on the head”. The criminal (or criminals) disappeared immediately after the attack; they did not try to rob the journalist. The same evening Naumov was taken to the 5th city hospital, where 9 stitches were put on his face and head. The chief-editor of “Dosye” believes that the attack was connected with Naumovs work as a journalist and as the acting general manager of the newspaper. The weekly is well known in the oblast for the acute materials on socially important topics.
“Almost a year ago a criminal case was started in the connection with the burglary of my flat, some time later the office of the newspaper was also robbed. We reckon that these crimes are linked”, communicated V. Poliushko. This case is investigated by Margarita Kolesnikova, an investigating officer of the Ordzhonikidze district militia directorate of Zaporozhye. In the opinion of Anatoliy Naumov, the law-enforcers are working rather actively.
The Zaporozhye oblast weekly “Dosye” was founded in June 1999. One of the founders was major-general Oleksandr Poliak, the then city mayor, who died on 22 November 2003 of a cardiac seizure. The run of the newspaper is almost 100 thousand.
17 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Attack on Oleg Eltsov, the editor of the Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya”
On 24 July, in Kyiv, two strangers attacked journalist Oleg Eltsov, the editor of the Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya” (“Criminal Ukraine”).
Oleg Eltsov informed “Interfax-Ukraine” by phone that two men were waiting for him on the landing and tried to beat him, when he left the flat. One of the attackers had an electro-shocker, another – a pipe wrapped in something. For some time the journalist defended himself, and they ran away. The journalist feels well.
O. Eltsov suggests that these men tried to get to his flat: they ringed his doorbell twice during the day, but he was very busy and did not want to open the door. The journalist left the flat, since he had to go to court.
Now the militiamen, who were called by Eltsov, are making portraits of the criminals. The journalist also saw a car, which, in his opinion, might belong to the attackers.
The journalist does not think that the attack was connected with the trial, which had to take place on 24 July, because this case had been considered for a long time. At the same time, he does not exclude the possibility that the attack was connected with some of the publications, which appeared on the site during several recent months. “Almost every article could have such result”, he said.
The Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya” elucidates journalists investigations concerning the activities of Ukrainian top officials, MPs, representatives of force agencies, etc. More than once the deputies requests to the General Prosecutors office of Ukraine were based on the materials placed on the site.
The materials of the site are thoroughly studied and analyzed by the law-enforcing organs.
The last material published by Oleg Eltsov in the Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya” was connected with the past of one of the most influential Ukrainian bankers.
(«Shliakh peremogi», No. 31, 24-30 July 2003)
Murder of Aleksandr Panich, a journalist of the newspaper “Donetskie novosti”
In the middle of June a headless body was found in Kalmius river. The Donetsk prosecutor declared that it was the body of Aleksandr Panich, a journalist of the newspaper “Donetskie novosti”.
Aleksandr worked in the newspaper, which was in the scope of interests of the soccer club “Shakhter” and its president Rinat Akhmetov. Panich conducted journalists investigations. In autumn 2002 the conflict occurred between the Makeevka metallurgical plant (MMP) and the so-called “Donetsk group”. The conflict was caused by seizure of some property by the metallurgical plant, in particular, the Komsomolsk ore directorate and a former kolkhoz in a village of Privolnoe. The editorial board proposed to A. Panich to investigate these events and to clear up the role of MP Vladimir Boyko in this incident. “Donetskie novosti” published several acute materials on this topic. In November 2002 the open confrontation in the “Donetsk clan” stopped. Since that time Aleksandr did not come to the editorial board. The administration of the newspaper did not try to find out the reasons of his absence and fired him.
In the beginning of December Panichs sister turned to militia with the appeal about the disappearance of her brother. The prosecutors office started the case on… the murder of the journalist. At the same time it became known that Aleksandr had sold his flat, so the investigation began to consider the version about the murder because of money. At that, the investigators practically disregarded the professional activities of A. Panich, and mentioned his articles about the masters of the MMP only casually.
As well as in G. Gongadzes case, militia was looking for some drag addicts, which were allegedly connected with the murder of Panich. Two journalists, who had talked with Panich before the disappearance, appeared in the case. Then nobody recollected about “Panichs case” during seven months. And suddenly, as if by somebodys order, after the refusal of V. Boyko to join the parliamentary fraction “Regiony Ukrainy”, the law-enforcing organs resumed the active work. Approximately on 20 June they declared that journalists body had been found and the murderers had been arrested.
However, there are many unsolved questions in this case. For instance, Donetsk prosecutor Aleksandr Olmezov informed at a press conference that the proofs allowed to state for certain that it was Panich, whose body had been found. Yet, Aleksandr Sukhov, the head of the oblast bureau of forensic expertise, insists that “the body was not identified”. By the way, the suspected of this crime was released after giving a written undertaking not to leave a place.
This information was communicated by our colleagues from “Donetskie novosti”.
(«Svoboda», No. 28, 15-21 July 2003)
Head of the National Union of journalists expressed his anxiety about the terror applied to journalists
Igor Lubchenko, the Head of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine, directed the letter to Yuri Smirnov, the Minister of Interior of Ukraine, in which he expressed the anxiety of the NUJU about the terror applied to mass media workers. I. Lubchenko points out that, soon after the death of Dnepropetrovsk journalist Vladimir Efremov, some unknown criminals beat Anatoliy Naumov, the editor-in-chief of the weekly “Dosye”, in Zaporozhye, and Oleg Eltsov, the editor of the Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya”, in Kyiv. The fact that the beatings took place near the houses of the journalists and that the victims were not robbed allows to think that the attacks were connected with the professional activities of the journalists.
Therefore, Igor Lubchenko asked the Minister of Interior to control the investigation of the cases of murders and beatings of journalists and to inform the public about the results.
I. Lubchenko appealed to Sviatoslav Piskun, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, with the request to conduct at the end of September the collegium of the General Prosecutors office with the participation of the NUJU secretary, and to sum up at this collegium the investigation of the cases concerning the attacks on journalists.
«Svoboda slova: Poltavshchina», No. 38, 28 July 2003
Sumy newspapers are protesting against the restrictions of the access to information on the side of city administration
The greatest private Sumy newspapers, “Dankor”, “Panorama” and “Vash shans”, were issued with lacunas symbolizing the protest against the decision of Sumy town executive committee to restrict the access to the meetings in the mayors office. Since the middle of June the correspondents of these newspapers cannot be present at these meetings. Editors of the newspapers signed the open letter to town mayor Vladimir Omelchenko.
““Dankor”, “Panorama” and “Vash shans” are the most influential town newspapers that are read by every second Sumy dweller. So, the events that took place on 14 and 21 July, when militia did not let the correspondents of our newspapers to the building of the town executive committee and to the meetings, are regarded by us as an infringement of citizens right for obtaining reliable information about the work of town power”, the letter states. “We also reckon that the division of journalist into “needed” and “needless” ones (representatives of the newspaper “Sumy i sumchane” and the TV company “Vidicon” were admitted to the same meetings) does not agree with the principles of open and democratic society, which are declared by the Ukrainian government”.
«Svoboda slova: Poltavshchina», No. 38, 28 July 2003
Press release instead of the session of the town council!
Valentina Krivda, a correspondent of the all-Ukrainian weekly “Shliakh Peremogi”, learned that the session of the Krivoy Rog town council would be held on 28 May 2003 two days before the event. She got this information from the workers of the town executive committee.
This principal and meticulous journalist takes part in almost all briefings of local authorities. The situation with visiting the sessions was not so good in spite all efforts of V. Krivda. She handed the accreditation requests and appeals to the officials of the executive committee. Yet, as V. Krivda points out in her appeal to town mayor Yuri Lubonenko, during 12 years of the Ukrainian independence she managed to be present only at one session of the town council.
Thus, the journalist decided to fight for her professional rights and to struggle with the discrimination. In the appeal of 26 May 2003 she referred to the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, to the Ukrainian Constitution, to the Laws of Ukraine “On information” and “On printed mass media (the press) in Ukraine”, demanded put an end to the creation of artificial obstacles and to render her the right to be present at the session.
Since V. Krivda knew how the mayor and his apparatus reacted to citizens initiatives, the next day she handed the appeal to town prosecutor Vasyl Kravets. The complete text of this appeal is quoted below.
“On 26 May 2003 I turned to town mayor Yu. Lubonenko with the appeal about my constitutional right for information. I asked to give me the opportunity to be present at the session of the town council, which would be held on 28 May 2003. I registered the appeal at 14:00 in the office of the town executive committee.
On the same day I orally familiarized with the text of the appeal the officials of the deputies room, organizational department and press service of the executive committee. From this talk I understood that I would not be permitted to the session of 28 May (I also was not admitted to the previous session that was conducted on 23 April 2003).
On 26 May 2003 I turned to S. Dzhabbarov, the prosecutor of the Dzerzinski district of Krivoy Rog, who explained me my rights and advised to turn to the town prosecutors office, as the organ competent in such cases.
Thus, on the basis of Article 10 of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, Article 26 of the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media (the press) in Ukraine”, the Law of Ukraine “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine concerning the questions of guaranteeing and unhampered realization of citizens right for the freedom of speech”, I am asking you to take the appropriate measures for the realization of my professional journalists right to obtain the information freely at the sessions of the town council, in particular, at the session of 28 May 2003”.
The appeal was supplemented with 10 materials, including the copies of the article “Who needs the journalists of the opposition mass media to be personas non grata at the sessions of the Krivoy Rog town council?” published by the newspaper “Krivoy Rog vecherniy”.
On the day of the beginning of the session the journalist handed another appeal to the town prosecutor, from which one can learn about the further course of events:
“I have to inform you that, in spite of my appeals to the prosecutors office of 26 and 27 May 2003 with the request to prevent the arbitrary actions of the town power impeding my professional journalists activities, on 28 May 2003 the law-enforcing organs of the town executive committee did not admit me to session of the town council (at which the town prosecutor was present). I did not receive any written refusals to my written appeal to the mayor of 26 May 2003.
In the connection with the illegal restriction of my right to obtain the information freely at the sessions of the town council of 23 April 2003 and 28 May 2003, I am forced to send the phoned telegram to General Prosecutor of Ukraine S. Piskun and Prime-Minister of Ukraine V. Yanukovich. The text of the telegram is the following:
“As a result of the passivity of the town prosecutors office, Krivoy Rog mayor Yu. Lubonenko and M. Shvets, the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast state administration, on 28 May 2003 I, a correspondent of the all-Ukrainian weekly “Shliakh Peremogi”, was not admitted to the session of the town council. I am asking to direct the special commission of the General Prosecutors office, which commission will include the representatives of the international organization “Reporters without frontiers”, for studying the problem and for fighting with the violations of the freedom of speech in the Krivoy Rog region”.
The responses to the V. Krivdas appeals clearly demonstrate the attitude of the local authorities to the role and rights of independent mass media.
Here are several responses by V. Petrovnin, the executive officer of the town executive committee:
1. 30 April 2003 – To V. Krivda.
In response to your letter No. 2205/13 of 22 April 2003 we are informing that more than 100 editions of town and regional level are registered in Krivoy Rog, several tens of printed mass media are published. The representatives of the majority of Krivoy Rog mass media want to be present at the sessions of the town council, at the sittings of the executive committee and the meetings of various levels. It is rather difficult to satisfy these demands. So, the system is developed, when the representatives of electronic mass media, state and municipal editions are invited first of all. Every journalist has the opportunity to familiarize with the adopted decisions and to obtain the exhaustive information about the course of the sittings or sessions (including the audio version) in the press service of the executive committee. You also may use this opportunity.
2. 20 May 2003 – To V. Krivda.
In response to the appeals of 22 April 2003 and 23 April 2003.
According to Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On the procedure of the elucidation of the activities of the organs of state power and organs of local self-rule in Ukraine by mass media”, “organs of state power and organs of local self-rule are obliged to give to mass media the complete information about their activities through the corresponding informational services of the organs of state power and local self-rule, and to guarantee the free access to this information”. The corresponding informational services of the Krivoy Rog town council and executive committee are represented by the town newspaper “Chervony girnyk” and the TV and radio company “Rudana”. You can obtain the exhaustive information about the sessions and sittings of the executive committee of the town council and to familiarize with the adopted decisions in the press service of the town council and the executive committee.
3. 20 May 2003 – To V. Krivda.
Copy: to the executive committee of the Krivoy Rog town council
In response to the appeal of 23 April 2003.
Respected Ms. Krivda!
The procedure of the convocation of the sessions of the council, preparation and consideration of questions, adoption of the decisions concerning the agenda of the sessions and other procedural questions, as well as the order of the work are stipulated by the regulations of the council, which is approved by the deputies of the council and is a normative act of local self-rule.
According to the mentioned regulations, representatives of the press are invited to the sittings of the town council only if necessary. According to the Law of Ukraine “On organs of local self-rule in Ukraine” and the regulations of the Krivoy Rog town council, the propositions on the questions considered by the council may be presented only by the mayor, permanent commissions, deputies, executive committee of the council and the gatherings of citizens.
So, it is clear that Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine does not operate in Krivoy Rog: only the actions of the town council are regarded as legal there.
So, the question put by Valentina Krivda in her telegram to Mykola Shvets, the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast state administration, seems to be absolutely logical: “… by which motives I did not get the agenda of the day session, was not registered by the press service of informational requests and did get the journalists accreditation? Who will be responsible, in the accordance with Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, for the premeditated impediment to my professional activities?”
M. Korobko, Krivoy Rog (“Prava ludyny” (English version), July 2003)
Head of the Vinnitsa oblast administration obliged medics to subscribe to state newspapers
Viktor Kotsemir, the Head of the Vinnitsa oblast administration, signed the order on the organization of the subscription of all medical establishments of the oblast for state (communal) periodicals. The ForUm correspondent communicates that the heads of medical establishments got the corresponding phoned telegram from the oblast administration.
The telegram reads: “According to the order of the head of the oblast state administration, the subscription must be organized in the medical establishments for state and oblast editions (“Podoliya”, “Vinnichina”, “Panorama”, “Uriadovy kuryer”, “Golos Ukrainy”). You must inform about the results of the fulfillment of the order in writing up to 8 July 2003. Deputy head of the directorate D. Bilous. Transmitted by Suprun”.
Journalists of Vinnitsa independent newspaper “33 kanal”, who managed to get the copy of the telegram, turned to the oblast prosecutors office and the Anti-monopoly Committee with the request to estimate the actions of the power organs and the co-founders of the newspapers.
ForUm, 16 July 2003, http://ukr.for-ua.com/
Oleksandr Zinchenko breaks the relations with the TV channel “Inter”
7 July 2003. Deputy head of the Supreme Rada Oleksandr Zinchenko announced at a press conference about breaking his relations with the TV channel “Inter”. Two weeks before he had the meeting with the collective of the channel, where he declared about this decision. “I said that I had exhausted my resources for providing the stability of the informational policy”, told O. Zinchenko. “A national channel may not be a mouthpiece of one political force”, stated he, meaning, obviously, the party SDPU(u).
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Editor-in-chief of “Yuridichna gazeta” turned to the prosecutors office
Svetlana Maksimova, the editor-in-chief of “Yuridichna gazeta” (“The juridical newspaper”), turned to the prosecutors office of the Pecherskiy district of Kyiv with the claim about the institution of the criminal case after Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (impeding the professional activities of journalists). In her claim the journalist informed that on 23 July she underwent the impediment to her professional activities on the side of representatives of the defendant in the civil case started after the claim of citizen Beregovoy against Kyiv city council. According to Ms. Maksimova, the physical and psychological pressure was exerted upon her: the offenders tried to stop her, to take away her camera-recorder, etc. The IMI sent the request to the prosecutors office and took this case under its control.
24 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Film-laureate “Oblychchia protestu” cannot seep to the TV screens
TV journalist Andrey Shevchenko became the first laureate of the recently founded literary-artistic premium named after Volodymir Kosovskiy. He got the premium for the film “Oblychchia protestu” (“The face of protest”) devoted to the political events in Ukraine in 2001-2002.
The premiere of the film “Oblychchia protestu” was held in the Kyiv House of cinema in March, but none of the all-Ukrainian TV companies did not dare to show it in spite of the requests of hundreds of journalists, cultural workers, heads of public organizations and MPs.
The participants of the public demonstration of this film, which took place after the presentation of the premium, approved the appeal to the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting, to the founders, owners and heads of TV companies, which broadcasted at all-Ukrainian TV channels, with the request to show the film “Oblychchia protestu” to the millions of viewers.
In what follows we present the complete text of “The appeal to the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting, to the founders, owners and heads of TV companies, which broadcast at all-Ukrainian TV channels: NTCU, “Inter”, “Studio “1+1””, “Novy kanal”, STB and ICTV”:
The participants of the public demonstration of the film “Oblychchia protestu” created by our fellow-countrymen Andrey Shevchenko are surprised by the fact that, in spite of the requests of hundreds of journalists, cultural workers, heads of public organizations and MPs to the persons, on whom the TV programs depend, the film has not been shown at any all-Ukrainian TV channel until now, although 5 months has passed after the premiere.
“Oblychchia protestu” is the first honest film about modern Ukraine: it does not contain any political assessments, does not endorse any political forces, does not thrust any opinions, but objectively describes the acute social and political processes in our country, elucidates actions and views of all conflicting sides. Maybe, this is the very reason why the film is not admitted to the TV screens? Maybe our officials are afraid of truth? This is a shameful and cowardly position, especially if to take into account the recent (before the previous election) repeated demonstration at several TV channels of the power-loyal and insincere film “PR”, which had to obtrude the false ideas about the events in Ukraine.
We are turning to you with the request to show the film “Oblychchia protestu” to the millions of your viewers, who get tired of lies and hypocrisy, thus expressing your protest against the political censorship in Ukrainian mass media and confirming your wish for the development of the freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Approved by the participants of the public demonstration of the film “Oblychchia protestu”, Fastov, the Kyiv oblast, 25 July 2003
Telekritika, 28 July 2003, www.telekritika.kiev.ua
Judge refused to consider V. Boykos claim against the tax administration and the prosecutors office of the Donetsk oblast
Last year the Donetsk tax militia detained journalist Vladimit Boyko and took him into custody. The only guilt of the journalist was that he had written the article about the corruption in Donetsk tax militia. The journalist illustrated this corruption with the example of Vadim Papaika, the head of the tax militia of the Kyivskiy district of Donetsk. After this Boyko was arrested by tax officers in the editorial office of the newspaper “Salon”.
After 10 months the criminal case against V. Boyko was closed because of the absence of corpus delicti, and the court acknowledged that the detention and incarceration of the journalist were illegal.
Nobody knows how much time will pass until the organizers and executors of this dirty affair will be punished. Until now V. Boyko has not get the compensation of the damage inflicted by the illegal detention; moreover, he even has not obtain the documents and other property seized from him during two searches. The prosecutors office ignores journalists appeals; his claims and complaints to court are not considered.
On 26 June Ya. Rassuzhday, a judge of the Kyivskiy district court of Donetsk, refused to consider the claim handed by V. Boyko against the tax officers and the oblast prosecutors office about the compensation of the damage inflicted by the illegal bringing to criminal responsibility. The arguments adduced by the judge were rather surprising. It appeared that Vladimir Boyko had to pay 5 thousand UAH of litigation fee.
According to Article 4 item 6 of the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers “On litigation fee”, litigation fee is not imposed on the claims on recompensing the damage inflicted by the illegal bringing to criminal responsibility. Moreover, the claimant must not turn to court and prove something at all, if the illegal actions were committed against him by law-enforcing officers. According to the Law of Ukraine “On the order of recompensing the damage inflicted to a citizens by the illegal actions of the organs of inquiry, preliminary investigation, prosecutors office and court”, after closing a case because of the rehabilitating circumstances, the investigating officer must calculate the damage inflicted by the illegal bringing to criminal responsibility and to issue the resolution about the compensation. The size of the compensation may not be less than the size of minimal wages for every month of incarceration. If the citizen does not agree with the size of the compensation, he may appeal to court against this resolution without paying the litigation fee.
The tax militia returned only Boykos computer confiscated from his flat. The investigation officer explained the reason of this confiscation without any embarrassment: the officers liked the plain monitor and decided to take it to their office, so they seized the equipment without court permission. Yet, the law-enforcers refuse to return the journalists correspondence, workbook and other documents.
(«Vechernie vesti», No. 98, 4-10 July 2003)
03 July 2003. Donetsk journalist Vladimir Boyko turned to the Appeal court of the Donetsk oblast with the claim about starting the disciplinary proceedings against Ya. Rassuzhday, a judge of the Kyivskiy district court of Donetsk.
On 21 April 2003 V. Boyko handed the claim on recompensing the moral damage inflicted by the illegal bringing to criminal responsibility. He demanded 100 thousand hryvnas of compensation. Yet, on 28 May the judge rejected his claim, since the plaintiff allegedly had to pay 5 thousand UAH of litigation fee. The judge based his decision on the Law of Ukraine “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine concerning the unhampered realization of the right for the freedom of speech”. V. Boyko also turned to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine with the claim about the institution of criminal case against judge Rassuzhday after part 1 Article 375 (issuing a deliberately unjust decision).
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
A case on the premeditated impediment to journalists activities was started in Shostka
03 July 2003. The Shostka town court of the Sumy oblast did not consider the complaint handed by Irina Degtiariova against the resolution of the Shostka district prosecutors office about the institution against her of the criminal case after article 171 Part 1 of the CC of Ukraine, since the representatives of the prosecutors office did not come to the trial.
On 2 June the Shostka district prosecutors office started the criminal case after article 171 Part 1 of the CC of Ukraine (impediment to the legal journalists professional activities) against Irina Degtiariova, the head of the department of the registration of the acts of civil status (DRACS) at Shostka directorate of justice. Ms. Degtiariova pointed out in her complaint that the case had been instituted groundlessly. At the same time, Larisa Yakubenko, the general manager of the company “TELECOM-SERVIS”, stated: “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”.
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Will the Poltava TV company “UTA” return to the TV screens?
Since 18 June 2003 the Poltava TV and radio company “UTA” stopped to broadcast on the 24th TV channel, on which it worked for many years.
The attempts to destroy the TRC “UTA” began much earlier, when Georgiy Chechik, the head of the TV company, “quarreled” with A. Kukoba, the Poltava mayor at that time. At first the subscribers of the cable network of Poltava lost the opportunity to watch the transmissions of the TV company: in May 2001 four Poltava operators of cable TV switched off the TRC “UTA”. And several days later the TV company “Misto” began to work. The new company was founded by three (out of four) operators of cable TV and one physical person. The goals of the creation of this TV company and the level of its independence are quite obvious from its features. It is widely known that, having the official status of a private company, “Misto” works for the mayor.
The next attack on the TRC “UTA” was realized through the Poltava Fund of communal property. When the TV company, according to the contract, transferred the money for the rent of the building, where it worked, the fund returned the money thrice, until the officials from Kyiv interfered to the situation. After this the campaign began with the purpose to evict the TV company from the building by the address 43 Zhovtneva St., where the company “Poltava plus” was situated. The head of the oblast state administration issued the order to dismount the transmitting antenna. The authorities tried to force the manager of the building (The House of Technique) to cancel the rent agreement with “Poltava plus”. The essence of the pretensions of the local sanitary station was that the transmitting antenna located on the roof of the building allegedly radiated the radio waves dangerous for health, although several months earlier the main sanitary physician of Poltava had signed the permission for the work of the TV company.
When the attempts to evict the company from the building were repulsed, the officials began to apply more strict methods.
During the parliamentary election campaign the TRC “UTA” cooperated with Kyiv TV company “TET”. After the election, in November 2002, “TET” handed a suit against “UTA” demanding to pay the compensation equal to 9,300,000 hryvnas for violating the conditions of the contract. The sum of the claim exceeded the actives of the TV company more than in three times. By the opinion of Pavel Moiseev, a lawyer of “Internews-Ukraine”, to whom the TRC “UTA” turned for the legal aid, the demanded sum and other circumstances of the case showed that the actions of the claimant were directed at the destruction of the company. By the way, just at that time the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting had to announce the competition for the use of the 24th channel, which was used then by the TRC “UTA”.
Further events confirmed that the persecution of the TRC “UTA” was “ordered” by some influential persons, since on the next day after the claim was handed to the economic court of the Poltava oblast the court issued the resolution about the arrest of the property and bank accounts of the TV company and sent this resolution to the state executive service. The executors fulfilled the decision quickly: on the next day the accounts of “UTA” were arrested (usually this procedure takes 2-4 weeks). As a result, the activities of the company were almost paralyzed.
The TRC “UTA” handed the counter-claim on the acknowledgement of the invalidity of the contract between “UTA” and the TRC “TET”.
The economic court of the Poltava oblast approved the decision on the collection from the TRC “UTA” of 9,300,000 UAH of compensation and 17,118 UAH of legal expenses. At that, according to the words of lawyer of “Unternews-Ukraine” Pavel Moiseev, the court ignored all explanations of the TRC “UTA”, refused to satisfy its counter-claim and announced a part of the decision in the absence of the parties, thus brutally violating the norms of the material and procedural right.
On 12 March 2003 the Kharkov appeal economic court considered the appeal of the TRC “UTA” and acknowledged the contract between the TRCs “UTA” and “TET” to be invalid. “TET” did not appeal against this decision.
Meanwhile the TRC “UTA” handed the documents for the participation in the competition of the National council for the right to use the 24th channel, since the term of their license had finished by that time. At the first sitting of the National council the votes of eight members of the council divided into two equal parts: 4 members voted “for” and 4 – “against”. It is interesting that Lilia Mironovich, the representative of the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting in the Poltava oblast and a former referent of P. Shemet, the deputy head of the Poltava oblast administration), who, by logics, had to protect the interests of the Poltava TV company, voted for giving the license… to the Kyiv TRC “TET”, loyal to the SDPU (u). The members of the sitting ignored the fact that the TRC “UTA” had the most modern equipment in Poltava and the many-year experience of work.
In several weeks, at another sitting of the National council, the final decision was taken: the 24th Poltava channel was given to the TRC “TET”.
However, there is some hope yet that the TRC “UTA”, which became really independent after the numerous ordeals with political censorship, will return to the Poltava air: the company handed the documents for the participation in the competition for another TV channel. Of course, if this competition would be honest…
Claim on the protection of honor and dignity of the manager of the TV company “Krym” was not satisfied
14 July 2003. A court refused to consider the claim on the protection of honor and dignity handed by Ludmila Khoroshilova, the manager of the TV and radio company “Krym” and the head of the Crimean Republican branch of the National Union of journalists, against Olena Rozhen, the chief-editor of the feature “12 minutes of news” of the same TV company. This decision was taken by Nina Starova, a judge of the Zaliznichny district court of Simferopol. The judge recognized the demands of the plaintiff as contradicting “the norms of the operating laws”. Ludmila Khoroshilova was going to collect 80250 hryvnas from her subordinate as the compensation of the moral damage allegedly inflicted to her. In her opinion, her honor and dignity suffered the damage as a result of some statements made by Olena Rozhen at a press conference and in several TV features. The statements concerned the low professionalism of Khoroshilova and the censorship introduced by her in the company “Krym”. The court acknowledged these statements to be “evaluative judgments”. So, Rozhen merely realized her right to express her opinion and views, which right is guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution and the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Conflict between an official and an editor was settled without turning to court
Nikolay Suvorov, the head of the directorate in charge of the questions of religion, nationalities and migration of the Kirovograd oblast state administration, expressed his discontent about the article “Do not pull and do not push us” by Valentina Bazhan published in the local newspaper “Russkiy blok” (Nos. 5-6, 2003). N. Suvorov stated that he would hand the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation against V. Bazhan, the editor of the newspaper.
The editor resorted to the help of the Monitoring center of the freedom of speech. A lawyer of the center analyzed the publication and came to the conclusion that there were no grounds for court persecution of the journalist. In order to settle the conflict, lawyer Yuri Denisov took part in the talk between V. Bazhan and N. Suvorov. The conflicting parties stated their opinions connected with the publication of the odious article.
It appeared during the talk that there were no legal grounds for bringing V. Bazhan to the civil responsibility after Article 7 of the Civil Code of Ukraine. The editor acted in the framework of Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights for the freedom of opinions and the freedom of speech, as well as the freedom of expression of views.
As a result, N. Suvorov refused from his complaint against the author of the article, and the conflict was settled without turning to court.
Nina Ptashkina, the Association “Public initiatives»
Court of the Galitskiy district of Lviv rejected the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation of businessman Ivan Motrinets against the Lviv oblast state TV and radio company and journalist Ivan Khas
Mr. Motrinets demanded from the TV journalists the compensation equal to 1 million hryvnas for the “stained generals coat”.
General Ivan Motrinets, the head of the juridical firm “Feniks”, turned to court in last year, approximately a month after the demonstration of the subject “A criminal at large” in the feature “Visnyk-pidsumki”. The essence of the subject was that, after the sudden release, citizen Bogdan S. (who was suspected of the attempt at the life of Petro Pisarchuk, a Lviv businessman, now an MP) met with the general. The question was put: “What connects these two people?”. That allegedly deprived Ivan Motrinets “of the possibility to live normally, to realize his plans and opportunities”. By the words of Ludmila Mayor, the first deputy of the general manager of the TV company, it was MP Pisarchuk, who told the journalists about the meeting of Mr. Motrinets with Bogdan S., and this information was fixed in the materials of the criminal case investigated by the General Prosecutors office. The general did not want to have legal proceedings with Pisarchuk.
The Zaliznichny district court of Lviv considers now one more claim by Ivan Motrinets: the suit against journalist Ivan Khas and the weekly “Ukraina i chas”. The magazine published the same information given by P. Pisarchuk. This time the general demanded 1.5 million hryvnas.
(«Ukraina i chas», Lviv, No. 21, 22-28 May 2003)
Decision on the claim against the newspaper “Kievskie vedomosti”, Oles Buzina and Marina Turovskaya “on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation of T. Shevchenko” came into force after the consideration in the Kyiv appeal court
The Ukrainian Themis resolved:
“The statement of the claimants that they are the heirs of the creations by T. Shevchenko is groundless. The court came to the conclusion that, according to the UWU statute, the representatives of the Union of Writers of Ukraine had no right to bring the suit on the protection of honor and dignity of T. Shevchenko. The plaintiffs also demand to collect the compensation for the moral damage from the defendants. The claim may not be satisfied in that part too, since, according to Article 440-1 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, the inflicted damage is recompensed to the person, whose rights were abused by the illegal actions of other persons. It is seen from the claim of the UWU, that the rights of the plaintiffs were not violated. On the basis of the above-stated arguments, the court reckons that the UWU may not be a plaintiff in this case, so the claim must be rejected”.
(«Kievskie vedomosti», 28 June 2003)
Shevchenkivskiy district court of Kyiv satisfied the claims of MPs Vasyl Onopenko and Mykhaylo Pavlovskiy against the TV channel “1+1” and Vyacheslav Pikhovshek
In November 2002, on the eve of the election of the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, Vyacheslav Pikhovshek, the presenter of the feature “Epitsentr” at the channel “1+1”, referring to his “own source”, spread the information about the bribes equal to 500 thousand, which were allegedly proposed for the support of candidate Vasyl Onopenko. Besides, Pikhovshek communicated that MP Mykhaylo Pavlovskiy, a member of the fraction “Yulia Timoshenkos bloc” was also involved in this affair. In fact, the publication of this information resulted in the election of Vasyl Maliarenko to the post of the head of the Supreme Court.
According to the court decision, the information published by Vyacheslav Pikhovshek was acknowledged as false and discrediting the honor, dignity and business reputation of Vasyl Onopenko and Mykhaylo Pavlovskiy. The court resolved to collect from the defendants the money compensation of the moral damage to each of the claimants and to oblige the defendants to apologize to Vasyl Onopenko and Mykhaylo Pavlovskiy for the false information in the nearest issue of “Epitsentr”.
29 July 2003, Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Court satisfied the claim of IASM and I. Slisarenko against the magazine “Korrespondent”, which accused the plaintiffs of racism and anti-Semitism
On 1 August 2003 the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv considered and satisfied the claim of the Interregional Academy of Staff Management (IASM) and I. Slisarenko, the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Personal”, against the company “KP Druk” (publisher of the Russian-language magazine “Korrespondent”) on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation, and on recompensing the moral damage.
The court resolution reads that the information made public by “Korrespondent” discredited honor, dignity and business reputation of the plaintiffs – IASM and Igor Slisarenko. Besides, this information inflicted damage to their interests, since the defendants spread inauthentic data aimed at the detriment of claimants reputation.
The company “KP Druk” is owned by US citizen Jed Sanden. In December 2000 – February 2003 the editions owned by Jed Sanden, in particular “Korrespondent”, conducted the defamation campaign against the IASP, its administration and the scientific magazine “Personal”, accusing them of anti-Semitism, “racism”, etc. The editorial board of “Korrespondent” refused to refute voluntarily the false information spread by the magazine, so the IASM and Igor Slisarenko had to turn to court.
The court obliged the editorial board of the magazine “Korrespondent” to publish the refutation of this information within 30 days and to recompense the moral damage to the claimants: 80 thousand hryvnas to the IASM and 20 thousand hryvnas to Igor Slisarenko.
(«Golos Ukrainy», No. 144, 5 August 2003)
Distrainment of property of the Kirovograd TV company “TTV”
On 16 July the officers of the court distrained upon the property of “TTV”, a private Kirovograd TV company. They executed the court decision on the claim of Vladimir Yaroshenko about the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. The Kamenskiy court issued the verdict about the compensation of the moral damage equivalent to 300 thousand hryvnas inflicted to the ex-candidate to the post of Kirovograd mayor. The appeal court of the Cherkassy oblast approved the verdict.
Yulia Kuchitskaya, a deputy head of the department of state executive service of Leninskiy district, stated that she acted according to Article 63 of the Law of Ukraine “On court execution”, since there was no resolution of the Supreme Court on the suspension of the verdict of the local court. The property was seized and deposited to Viktor Shmidt, who, by the opinion of the court officer, was an unconcerned person. Representatives of “TTV”, on the contrary, regard Shmidt as an interested party, since he also had legal proceedings with the TV company and won the case.
It is noteworthy that the attempts to seize the property of the company were made formerly, but these attempts failed because of the absence of the manager and chief accountant. On 16 June they were absent too. The journalists do not tell where their administration was, and why the collective was left to the mercy of fate in the critical moment.
Now the rooms of the TV company are sealed and the company does not work. This is incomprehensible, since the procedure of distrain does not prohibit the use of the property for the work. Another unexpected factor affected the situation: an anonymous person phoned to militia and informed that the rooms of “TTV” were mine-strewn. Militia could not find any explosive.
The center for monitoring of the freedom of speech carries out the expertise of this conflict.
Kirovograd Association “Public initiatives”
In what follows we are presenting the comment of Yuri Denisov, a lawyer of the center for monitoring of the freedom of speech, which works in the oblast with the support of the International foundation “Vidrodjennia”
According to the Law of Ukraine “On executive procedure”, a court decision, which has come into effect, must be fulfilled by the State Executive service (Article 3, item 1).
Article 5 of the Law obliges a state executor to take the measures for the coercive fulfillment of the decisions, to realize the appropriate actions for the fulfillment of the decision, if it was not fulfilled voluntarily. A state executor has the right to enter the rooms and storehouses owned by the debtors or occupied by them, to open these rooms coercively, if needed, in the accordance with the legal procedure (in the presence of witnesses) and to seal up the rooms; to distrain upon the property of a debtor, to confiscate this property, to pass it for storage and to sell it according to the procedure stipulated by law.
The demands of a state executor connected with the fulfillment of court decisions are obligatory for all organs, organizations, officials, citizens and juridical persons on all territory of Ukraine (Article 6).
A state executor, parties, representatives of the parties, experts, specialists and interpreters are the participants of the executive procedure (Article 10). So, the plaintiff may be present during the distrainment of property.
The executor must fulfill the decisions, which are not connected with the sale of property, in two months since the day of obtaining the executive document (Article 25). The parties and other participants of the executive procedure have the right to bring in petitions, to take part in the realization of executive actions and to appeal against the activities (or passivity) of the executor (Article 29).
Representatives of “TTV” declared: “We will complain to court, in particular against the violations during the distrainment procedure. Yet, the main subject of our future complaint is the inadmissible fact that the executive procedure was started, although there was a document in the case materials that confirmed that “TTV” did not own the property, but rented it” (“VG”, No. 29, 18 July 2003). In the case, where the distrained property is not owned by the debtor, the real owner of the property turns to court with the request to leave it out from the distraint. The court must take the decision on this question within 10 days (Article 33).
“The company appealed against the court decision to the higher instance, the cassation was handed to the Supreme Court” (“Ukraina-Tsentr”, No. 500, 18 July 2003). The parties and other persons, who participate in the case, have the right to appeal against the decision of the court of the first instance only in the connection with the violation of the material or procedural right, or of the decision of the appeal court. In this case the debtor handed the cassation against the court decision, which had come into legal force, but not against the executive document. So, the mentioned circumstances may not be a reason for the postponement, suspension or cancellation of the executive procedure. Such reasons are envisaged by Articles 32-35 and 37 of the Law of Ukraine “On executive procedure”. According to the publications in “VG” and “UTs”, the debtors advocates are only going to undertake these measures, so the actions of the state executor were legal in the moment of the beginning of the executive procedure.
The distrained property must passed for storage to the debtor or other persons appointed by the state executor on receipt, which is included in the distrainment act (Article 58). Thus, the delivery of the distrained property for storage to Viktor Schmidt was legal.
As to the work of the TV company, there is no decision about its cancellation, so there are no circumstances that impede the journalists activities. Yet, taking into account the above-mentioned conditions, the founder must discuss the situation with the collective of “TTV” and take the proper measures in the accordance with the statute of the organization (enterprise) and operating laws.
Besides, one must remember that the laws envisage not only the right for the freedom of speech and the creative journalists activities, but also the responsibility of the violation of laws.
The material sent by Nina Ptashkina
On 23 July the shocking news were made public on the evening news of the TV company “TTV”: editor-in-chief of the company Sergey Poluliakh tried to commit suicide: he cut his veins. Fortunately, he did not succeed, and his state is normal now.
(«Golos Ukrainy», No. 137, 25 July 2003)
On 25 July representatives of the Kirovograd oblast organization of the all-Ukrainian left union “Spravedlivost” picketed the Supreme Court of Ukraine, thus protesting against the decisions of the Kamenskiy local court and the appeal court of the Cherkassy oblast, which had recognized some Kirovograd mass media as guilty of spreading false information during the past election campaign. The decisions came into legal force, and the executive procedure began: the state executive service blocked the accounts of the TV company “TTV” and the newspaper “Kirovogradska pravda”; besides, the property of “TTV” was distrained.
We want to remind that the TV company must pay to Vladimir Yaroshenko 300 thousand hryvnas as the compensation of moral damage, and “Kirovogradska pravda” – 50 thousand. In this connection the newspaper declared about the reduction of the number of issues: now it will be published one time per week instead of three times. The editorial board hopes that later it will return to the old regime of work.
Viktor Tokarev, the general manager of the “TTV”, who had returned after the long absence, made a public statement, in which he connected the suicidal attempt committed by editor Sergey Poluliakh with the events around the TV company.
Kirovograd Association “Public initiatives”
General manager of the “TTV” Viktor Tokarev and ex-candidate to the mayors post N. Shvets visited V. Maliarenko, the chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. They asked to accelerate the consideration of the cassations against the decisions of the local and appeal courts after V. Yaroshenkos claim.
The weekly “Ukraina-Tsentr” communicates: “After the talk with Kirovograd representatives Vasiliy Maliarenko ordered to suspend the execution of court decisions concerning N. Shvets and the TV company “TTV”, and to accelerate the consideration of the cassation. The supreme judge of Ukraine is going to scrutinize all cases of the Kirovograd mass media personally and asks “not to equate one judge with the entire Ukrainian justice”.
Claim against Nina Ptashkina, the author of the article about bribe-takers
This trial broke all records in many aspects. Firstly, Nina Ptashkina is tried for the article published in the newspaper “Vedomosti” almost 6 years ago – on 6 November 1997. Secondly, the trial lasts already for three years. For three times the court of the first instance issued the decisions, and for three times the appeal court nullified these decisions and directed the case for the repeated consideration. One of such decisions was taken several days ago.
The lawsuit was caused by the article about bribe-takers. The article was written by Ms. Ptashkina in the connection with the detention of several lecturers for taking bribes from students during the summer examinations.
Two and a half years after the publication one of the detained (by that time the criminal case against him had been closed) turned to court with the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. He demanded from the author of the article to recompense him the moral damage equivalent to 500 thousand hryvnas. The court, by its own initiative, prolonged the term of handing the suit (which may not exceed 1 year) and obliged N. Ptashkina to pay 500 hryvnas. Two following considerations resulted in the verdicts in favor of the defendant. Yet, the claimant craves for the punishment of the journalist; today he demands 300 thousand hryvnas.
Kirovograd Association “Public initiatives”
Publication of the lists of debtors in the press
In winter 2003 the newspaper “Vgoru” (No. 8 of 20 February 2003) published the article by Aleksandr Burmagin, which told about the methods applied by Skadovsk authorities and the newspaper “Chernomorets” for the struggle with the people, who did not pay for communal services. The newspaper “Chernomorets” regularly published the lists of debtors with their surnames, addresses and sums of the debt.
Probably, the officials of the Kherson mayors office liked the illegal practice of their Skadovsk colleagues: they also began to publish such lists in the newspaper “Khersonskiy visnyk”. It is beyond belief that the workers of the newspapers did not know that they were violating the Ukrainian laws!
(«Vgoru», Kherson, No. 30, 24 July 2003)
Representatives of mass media will be brought to responsibility for divulging the information with the restricted access
By the words of the USS head Vladimir Pristayko, several days ago the Supreme Rada adopted the law, which would extend the authorities of the USS in the sphere of the protection of state secrets. According to this law, editors of mass media will be brought to responsibility for divulging the information with the restricted access. This provision aroused the negative reaction of the representatives of the International federation of journalists.
In 2001-2003 the USS officers investigated 28 criminal cases connected with the violation of the law on the protection of state secrets. In the current year two officials have been brought to responsibility for similar offences. 19 cases more were connected with the loss of objects and documents related to state secrets.
Representatives of mass media have not been involved in such cases yet.
(«Fakty», No. 124, 15 July 2003)
Appeal of public organizations and Internet-editions about the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On the activities in the sphere of informatization”
01 July 2003. The Institute of mass information and a number of public organizations and Internet-editions made public their appeal about the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On the activities in the sphere of informatization”, which had been registered in the Supreme Rada. “In fact, the norms of the draft are directed at the increase of the influence on the national component of the Internet, local networks and all other objects of modern automatized informational technologies, including the personal data carriers. The analysis of the draft give the reasons to state that its realization will result in the total control over the “objects of the sphere of informatization” (first of all, over the national component of the Internet) on the side of law-enforcing and other state organs”, the appeal reads.
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Internet mass media, as well as other informational computer networks, became rather customary element of our life and occupied the proper place in the sphere of gathering and distribution of the information. Although there are several operating laws, which regulate and control this sphere, they are, to put it mildly, imperfect. That is why the law draft “On the activities in the sphere of informatization” was developed. However, in spite of all positive motives, this draft evoked the categorical protest of the Ukrainian Internet-community.
It should be noted that this document does not regulate the relations in the sphere of mass media activities. Maybe, this very fact became the main reason of the aversion to the draft, because most of the Internet-resources represent mass media. Yet, according to the draft, they will turn from mass media and journalists into simple information providers.
Sergey Morgulin, a co-founder of the Internet-newspaper “UAToday”, points out: “If the law would be adopted, then the Internet-editions would become the objects of informatization, which would be controlled. And the journalists would turn into informants and lose their social role”. Under such conditions the work of the Internet-newspapers will become very difficult, and, maybe, they will even have to leave the market. Our country “will lose its Internet-resources cultivated in the infertile Ukrainian legislative soil”.
All in all, the majority of the representatives of the Internet-community reckon that this draft was created mainly for the suppression of Internet mass media in Ukraine in the interests of the authorities. Explaining this opinion, Oleksandr Paliy, a representative of the Public council in charge of the question of the freedom of speech and information, refers to one of the provisions of the draft: it is possible to apply sanctions against mass media, if they “spread the information, which can inflict damage to honor, dignity and business reputation of some persons or meddle into personal life of citizens”. So, the main goal of the draft is the restriction of the freedom of speech in the Internet-editions. O. Paliy points out that the Ukrainian power made the Internet-editions very popular “driving” there the freedom of speech from TV and printed mass media, and now the power tries to restrict this freedom.
(«Yuridichny visnyk Ukrainy», No. 28, 12-18 July 2003)
Pressure upon the Internet-edition “Obkom”
15 July 2003. The official appeal of Sergey Sukhobok, the head of the social-analytical movement “Grupa gromadian” (“Group of citizens”), and Aleksey Mironov, the editor-in-chief of the Internet-edition “Obkom”, communicate that during the last week the officers of the Directorate for fighting the economic crimes (DFEC) demanded from counteragents and partners of “Grupa gromadian” the information, which represented the confidential part of contractual relationship. “At that the officers groundlessly referred to item 24 Article 11 of the Law of Ukraine “On militia”… These actions are illegal, since no criminal case was instituted either against “Grupa gromadian”, or members and workers of the edition “Obkom”, on the basis of which case the militia would have the right to collect this information”, the appeal states. The authors of the document regard the actions of the DFEC and of “the authorities, who approved these actions” as “moral, psychological and, maybe, physical pressure on the publishers of the Internet-newspaper “Obkom” and their partners”.
Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», July 2003
Aleksey Mironov, the editor-in-chief of the Internet-newspaper “Obkom”, asserts that he has the information that the illegal actions of the DFEC were caused by the publications in “Obkom” and were approved by the General Prosecutors office. “That is why we regard the current situation as the continuation of the criminal activities of Sviatoslav Piskun directed towards the destruction of “Obkom””, writes A. Mironov in his appeal.
(«Svoboda», No. 30, 29 July-4 August 2003)
First sitting of the press-club of the trade union of independent journalists (Odessa)
On 6 June the first sitting of the press-club of the trade union of independent journalists was conducted in Odessa. Along with other interesting topics, the participants of the sitting discussed the plans on the protection of the workers of regional mass media from the pressure exerted by power.
The initial sitting of the press-club coincided with the Day of journalists, so this topic was the most important one at the sitting.
Leonid Zaslavskiy, the head of the regional trade union of independent journalists, said:
“In 2002 the journalism was gradually losing its positions. Journalists did not pay attention to socially important topics. The majority of them were controlled by the power.
The small number of journalists, who were protecting the rights of the Odessa dwellers, had to retire.
There are very few newspapers and TV channels in the city, which may be called independent. The majority of mass media prefer to express the viewpoint of the power. I believe that those, who serve to the power, have no right to call themselves journalists. They are ordinary servants and nothing more”.
The opinions expressed by the participants of the press-club were very different, and Leonid Zaslavskiy was highly pleased by that.
“Ukrainian journalists are not worse than foreign ones. Maybe, our power differs from the power in other countries, but we hope that it will change in the nearest future.
Our task is to keep our eyes open, to write truth, to collect, summarize and spread the information”.
Well-known Odessa journalists Mikhail Aksaniuk, Igor Rozov, Olga Kologriova, Tatiana Gerasimova, Ganna Berdichevskaya, Leonid Shtekel and others took the active part in the discussion.
The impression of Igor Grinshtein, the permanent chairman of the sittings of the press-club, was also positive.
“Our first sitting was very successful. If our plans would be fulfilled, then Odessa journalists would feel their force soon, and our press-club would begin to work professionally.
The topics for the sittings will be suggested by the life, since our country is unpredictable, and nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Yet, it is already known today that the presidential election will be held soon, so the topics connected with the election will be discussed in the press-club. We will debate about the candidates and about the preparation to the election on the side of power structures, which have already intensified the pressure on mass media”, said I. Grinshtein.
On 7 June the second issue of “Odesska zagalna gazeta” will be published; many materials will be connected with the problems of the freedom of speech and the questions of the protection of journalists rights in Odessa and the Odessa oblast.
The first issue of “Odesska zagalna gazeta” was published as early as in 2000, later it continued to appear in the Internet-version under the editorship of journalist Sergey Kovalinskiy.
Igor Stoliarov, Odessa
(“Prava ludyny” (Ukrainian version), No. 16, 1-15 June 2003)
Independent media trade union was created in Kremenchug
On 31 July the Initial conference was held, the participants of which took the decision to create the Kremenchug independent media trade union (KIMTU). The trade union was created as a result of the joint work of the International foundation “Vidrodjennia”, Kyiv independent media trade union, Kremenchug human rights protecting public organization “Za prava kozhnogo” (“For everybodys rights”) and Kremenchug trade union of mass media “Media-Liga”. There were representatives of Kremenchug mass media among the founders of the trade union, such as: the newspapers “Vagonobudivnyk”, “Telegraf”, “Avtograf”, “Visnyk Kremenchuga”, as well as the representatives of the public organization “Za prava kozhnogo” and independent journalists. Mykola Feldman, an independent journalist, a former worker of the publishing house “Privatna gazeta” and a correspondent of the weekly “Telegraf”, was elected to the post of the head of the KIMTU.
The trade union plans to conduct on 7 August 2003 in Kremenchug the seminar-presentation of the national trade union movement. The action will be carried out after the initiative of the founders of the Kyiv and Kremenchug IMTU with the support of the foundation “Vidrodjennia”.
The additional information can be get by the address: e-mail: [email protected], tel.: (05366) 32848.
"Tanya Akimova" [email protected]
Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, №07