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2003

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine

General data

08.04.2004

17371 periodicals have been registered in Ukraine before 1 July 2003

   

These data were communicated by Viktor Petrenko, a deputy head of the State committee on TV and radio broadcasting. 6598 editions were founded by juridical persons, 2900 – by physical persons and 802 – by the organs of local self-rule.

According to the statistics, the editions with the commercial orientation and the editions founded by physical persons prevail in the informational space of our state. This fact influences the entire sphere of mass media activities, in particular, forming of the informational process, “which generates some peculiar tendencies”. Such situation must make the power structures to look for the new approaches in the relations with mass media independently of the form of property, reckons V. Petrenko. At the same time, the statistical data evidence the increase of the number of the Ukrainian-language editions. In 2000 this number was 1933, and on 1 July 2003 – 2401 (the number of Russian-language editions was 784 and 809, respectively).

(«Slobidskiy kray”, Kharkov, No. 161, 29 August 2003)

General data

08.04.2004

36% of Kyiv dwellers do not trust to mass media

   

According to the results of the poll conducted by the UNIAN on 2 August, 36% of Kyiv dwellers do not trust to mass media.

Only 25% of the respondents trust to mass media, 26% believe that mass media are not always trustworthy. 35% of Kyiv dwellers trust to TV, 13% -- to newspapers and magazines, 12% -- to radio, 7% -- to informational agencies and 6% -- to the Internet. All in all, 1323 respondents were questioned.

(“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 40, 7 August 2003)

General problems

08.04.2004

The problem of liquidation of state mass media

   

The complete liquidation of state mass media in Ukraine can result only in the destruction of informational systems and informational sovereignty of Ukraine, believes Ivan Chizh, the head of the State committee on TV and radio broadcasting. In his speech delivered at the sitting of a “round table” in Khmelnitskiy, he pointed out that the proportion of state mass media in the informational space of Ukraine was insignificant, so it was inexpedient to change their form of property.

Now only 3% of electronic mass media and 3% of central newspapers are owned by the state, said Ivan Chizh. Therefore, in his opinion, there is no need to attack and destroy the small informational islets owned by the state and regional communities.

Ivan Chizh, the head of the State committee on TV and radio broadcasting of Ukraine:

-- Today it is very simple to destroy a district or town newspaper. Yet, it is much more difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to restore the local informational flow. So, it is necessary to strengthen the support of the editions by their founders, contacts between newspapers and readers, thus upholding the editions. The newspapers must be interesting, dynamic, reflecting the real problems.

(“Telekritika”, 6 August 2003)

***

The open letter by Igor Lubchenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine,
to the members of the Union, all workers of mass media,
to everybody concerned about the freedom of speech

Respected colleagues, all admirers of printed and outspoken word!

This summer we have observed the open confrontation of some state officials and the President of Ukraine. The head of the state twice, in June 2000 and March 2002, promised (at his meetings with journalists of regional mass media) to endorse the idea of liquidating the state mass media. He said that separate editions should not be financed from state budget.

In spite of that, the administration of the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting, under the aegis of public organizations headed by the officials from this structure (what a nonsense – a state official and, at the same time, the president of a public organization!), organizes round tables in the regions, the participants of which protest against the idea of liquidating the state mass media and approve the corresponding appeals to the Supreme Rada.

The organizers of these round tables resort to the banal demagogy, persuading their auditory that, allegedly, the press is not owned by the state already. According to their words, only 3% of printed mass media exist now, which were founded by the power structures.

This proportion was calculated by the officials of the State committee on the basis of the number of the editions, which had been registered since 1994 – about 17 thousand. And the real situation is the following: this summer the subscription was carried out for 2528 all-Ukrainian and 1938 local newspapers and magazines. Let us ignore the light reading and specialized editions (for gardeners, housewives, fishers, hunters, etc.). Then we will see that the number of socially-political editions (and the state and communal mass media are just such) is much less. So, this proportion is much more then the above-mentioned 3%. Yet, who needs this arithmetic? Maybe the officials of the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting seriously believe that the editions, which were founded not by the state, work against Ukraine? If such facts exist, and the officials observe these facts indifferently without turning to court with the demand to close the mass media, then these officials are committing crime and may not occupy their posts.

However, there are no such facts! Both Lviv newspaper “Vysoky zamok” and Donetsk newspaper “Donbas”, as well as the all-Ukrainian newspapers “Den”, “Dzerkalo tyzhnia”, “Kievskie vedomosti”, “Komunist”, “Molod Ukrainy”, “Narodna spravedlivist”, “Silski visti”, “Tovarishch”, “Ukraina moloda”, “Fakty i kommentarii” and hundreds of other editions create the polyphonic informational space of the state, help to build the democratic state after the European standards.

The main reason of the categorical statement of Mr. Chizh is not the anxiety about the future of mass media, but the wish to control the state and communal mass media, to dictate them the topics of their publications. When, in 2002, Leonid Kuchma introduced I. Chizh to the members of the collegium and the then State committee of informational policy, Mr. Chizh assured that he, being a representative of the opposition, would do his best for the development of the freedom of speech in Ukrainian mass media. Now “oppositionist” Chizh fights for the subjection of journalists to the power. God save us from such opposition!

The State committee of TV and radio broadcasting never tried to protect journalists from the pressure exerted by authorities, to stop the process of excluding the journalistic collectives from the ranks of founders of newspapers and of firing the editors opposed to local authorities, to guarantee the fulfillment of the agreements completed between the co-founders.

It is impossible to finance the state mass media now, when the state owes to its citizens many billions hryvnas of salaries and pensions. The state must face the truth and help the collectives of these editions to earn money for themselves. Otherwise, the collectives of the liquidated mass media will lose their work and will be thrown into the street.

There exist no state or communal mass media in democratic countries. Moreover, they also do not exist already in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Georgia.

The liquidation of mass media, founded, completely or partly, by power structures, is extremely urgent now. By the way, that is one of the demands of the Council of Europe for the integration of Ukraine to the European community.

The Ukrainian association of the publishers of periodicals handed to the Parliamentary committee the draft of the Law of Ukraine on the liquidation of state printed mass media. This draft was developed with the assistance of foreign investors. The main essence of the draft is that the power structures should leave the composition of the co-founders of mass media, and the property of editorial boards should be sold by auction (the editorial collectives have the right to purchase this property for 50% of its price).

The National union of journalists cannot agree with this principle. In our opinion, the buildings of the editorial boards and their printing shops were built for the money earned by the newspapers, which had been founded by trade unions, party, komsomol and other Soviet organs. So, we are sure: before the liquidation of state mass media, this property must be handed over to the collectives of the editions. And the editorial boards of the mass media, which were created by the organs of representative or executive power after the declaration of independence of Ukraine and occupy the buildings built not at the expense of the editorial boards, must have the right to purchase the buildings in the accordance with Article 11 of the Law of Ukraine “On state support of mass media and social protection of journalists”.

The editorial boards also must have the right to purchase other property of the editions (computers, copying equipment, transport, paper, furniture, etc.) at the depreciated cost with installments for 10 and more years. Now this property is regarded as communal. The tax administration should release the mass media from taxes for 1 year (2 years, according to some propositions) after the change of the form of property. I know many journalists of state and communal mass media, who are afraid that they would lose the right for the pensions, which are paid to state workers, after their editions would stop to be state-owned. The Union reckons that all journalists working in TV and radio organizations and periodicals founded by citizens’ unions, state research organizations, educational establishments and communication enterprises should be equated with state workers in the sphere of pensions.

So, we stated the main principles of the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On the liquidation of state and communal mass media and establishment of the form of property needed for the work of the organizations, which deal with mass information” prepared by the NUJU.

The first version of the draft was sent to the oblast organizations of the NUJU. We generalized their propositions and developed the new version of the draft, which was sent to the group of editors of communal mass media. We plan to discuss this problem at the plenum of the NUJU board with the participation of local journalists. We endorse the development of the documents concerning this complicated question. Yet, we protest against the haste and forcing the journalist collectives into the “radiant future”.

In our opinion, the law on the liquidation of state mass media should be approved during this year and come into force since 1 January 2005. This process must not be single-stage, and it should be begun from those collectives, who want that today. The mechanism of the future actions can be improved on their example.

Every journalistic collective, either communal or not, knows that this is not a simple problem. The problem must be discussed by the society seriously and without hurry. Unfortunately, the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting did not react to the both law drafts presented by our Union. The committee also ignored my proposition to conduct, in the first half of October, the joint sitting of the NUJU board and the collegium of the State committee with the participation of top state officials, representatives of ministries, agencies and editorial collectives.

So, I ask President Leonid Kuchma:

-  to declare one time more his approval of the process of democratization, liquidation of state mass media and the development of the freedom of speech in our country;

-  to demand from the administration of the State committee on TV and radio broadcasting to give the concrete explanations about what they have done and what they are going to do for the development of the freedom of speech in the sphere of mass media, creation of proper legal and material conditions for their activities, protection of mass media and journalists from administrative and court persecution;

-  to order the Ministry of Justice to check whether the work of the officials from the State committee of TV and radio broadcasting in public organizations agree with the Ukrainian laws and statutes of these organizations;

-  to raise the question about the conception of liquidation of state mass media at the sitting of the Council in charge of informational politics;

-  to charge Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, the NUJU, other parliamentary committees, collectives of mass media and lawyers with the development of the draft of the basic program of preparing the editions for the change of the form of property, to discuss this draft in journalists’ organizations.

Now the problem looks as following: either the Ukrainian journalism will, at last, blend with the context of world journalism, or it will transform into the toady of the power. So, journalists and society must make their choice.

  («The Poltava oblast media club», No. 43, 21 August 2003)



Mass media and election

08.04.2004

On the objectivity of mass media

   

Every election campaign demonstrates the terrible state of the Ukrainian journalism. Representatives of mass media almost do not fulfill their mission, they simply play somebody else’s game, and they do not know either the rules of this game or their role in it. One half of journalists are the servants of the power, and other – of the opposition. Such approach dulls and deadens journalists’ reflexes and they are not able to elucidate the real events objectively. That is why people do not trust to mass media. Unfortunately, during the years of independence journalism did not become not only the fourth power, but even the team of associates united with the corporative solidarity. Media space is controlled by anybody except journalists. Now not a single central or regional TV channel exists in Ukraine, which elucidates the events without taking somebody’s part. As to newspapers, there the state is somewhat better. Such editions as, for example, “Dzerkalo tyzhnia” and “Vysokiy zamok” give the opportunity to express the opinions to everybody. And it is well that the people are different and their opinions are also different.

Yet, the main function of mass media is to write and tell the truth to their readers and viewers. And the people, who obtain the unbiased information, will interpret it by themselves and will draw the proper conclusions. Frankly speaking, the society does not need at all the journalists, which serve to the power or opposition. The society needs journalists, who call a spade a spade. Of course, not all decisions taken by the President of government are erroneous, and not all deeds of opposition are correct. Journalists must say the truth. Only in that way they will be able to win back the trust of public and will become the real fourth power in the state.

So, the Ukrainian journalists must take the decision. Maybe, it is the time to begin the active struggle for media space.

(“Politichna Ukraina”, 6 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Head of the NUJU I. Lubchenko about criminal attempts at journalist

   

Igor Lubchenko, the Head of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine, and the NUJU are worried with the continuation of the terror against 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.

The Head of the National Union of journalists 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 journalists and asked the Minister to control the investigation of the cases of murders and beatings of journalists and to inform personally 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 Prosecutor’s 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.

On 14 July 2003 Dnepropetrovsk journalist Volodymir Efremov perished in a road accident: his car collided with a truck. 52-year-old V. Efremov 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”. For last three years he has been a correspondent of the Institute of mass information in Dnepropetrovsk.

On 17 July Anatoliy Naumov, the acting general manager of the Zaporozhye oblast weekly “Dosye”, a member of the National Union of journalists, was attacked in Zaporozhye. The attack was committed about 20:30 in the doorway of the apartment house where Naumov lived. When Naumov entered the house, where, for some reasons, the light was switched off, he was hit on the head. The criminal (or criminals) disappeared immediately after the attack; they did not try to rob the journalist.

On 24 July, in Kyiv, two strangers attacked journalist Oleg Eltsov, the editor of the Internet-edition “Ukraina kriminalnaya”. When Eltsov went out from his flat, two strangers (about 25-30 years old) ran up to him near the elevator and tried to stun him with electro-shocker and fists. Yet, O. Eltsov began to defend himself, and the attackers ran away. (The independent media trade union, 28 June 2003).

(UNIAN)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Death of Igor Goncharov

   

In the morning of 1 August Igor Goncharov, one of the accused in the “case of turnskins”, died in the emergency hospital. According to some data, it was Goncharov, a former senior officer of the DFOC, who, after the disappearance of Georgiy Gongadze, passed to mass media the information about some concrete officers of criminal investigation department that kept the watch over the journalist. Later this information was officially confirmed by representatives of law-enforcing organs.

The Institute of mass information received the envelope with the inscription: “To open after my death”. The envelope contained the appeal written by Igor Goncharov.

The IMI published this appeal without making public the names of the persons mentioned in it and the place, where material evidences were stored.

"APPEAL

I, Igor Goncharov, born in 1959 in Kyiv, a Ukrainian, pensioner of the Ministry of Interior, is writing this appeal being in right mind. I ask everybody, who will receive this appeal, to make it public.

In June 2002 I communicated to Khomula, the head of the Kyiv DFOC, the names of the persons, who had committed the kidnapping and murder of journalist Gongadze, and the facts connected with a number of other crimes planned and committed by the DFOC officers jointly with the members of criminal group […]. After this I was cruelly beaten. Before the beating Khomula and his subordinate, detective Igor, tortured me in the building of the DFOC on the Moskovskaya Square.

Khomula demanded from me not to evidence against the DFOC officers, who, together with […] and another criminal, who also was a member of “Kisel’s” criminal group, had committed the kidnapping of journalist Gongadze in September 2000 (I communicated to the USS officers […] and […] the surnames of these persons and of the workers of criminal intelligence service, who shadowed Gongadze, as well as the facts about the participation of the DFOC officers in other murders and kidnappings committed by members of the criminal group […]).

These crimes were committed by the direct order of […] and, later, of […]. Some top authorities of our state, […], also knew about these kidnappings and murders and were connected with them.

I have the materials collected jointly with the USS officers: audio records of talks, written confession of […] and other materials. I proposed to Khomula to seize these materials officially, in presence of journalists and representatives of the USS. I promised to show where these materials were stored. Yet, Khomula demanded to pass these materials to him for destruction. Besides, he refused to write down my testimony, he demanded from me to give the false evidence on the facts connected with the investigation, and promised that then I would be only a witness in this case.

When I refused, Khomula promised that I would be murdered by other criminals in the preliminary prison, and that my death would be represented as suicide or the death because of a disease. In spite of my invalidity, the prison doctors refused to examine me, and I cannot get any medical aid in the preliminary prison in spite of my complaints on frequent abdominal pains and losses of consciousness. I think that this is done with the consent and by the order of Khomula. Probably, the attempts to unmask the people, who organized the crimes, will result in my death. Yet, I am doing that for the sake of truth and justice.

24 February 2003. Written and signed by I. Goncharov.

(«The Poltava oblast media club», No. 40, 7 August 2003)

***

The Institute of mass information received the envelope with the inscription: “To open after my death”. This was the appeal of Igor Goncharov. Now the IMI conducts its own investigation.

The envelope contained 17 hand-written pages signed by Igor Goncharov.

Taking into account the gravity of the accusations and the fact that the guilt of a person may be proved only by court, we will not mention some names, to which Goncharov refers.

In February 2003 Goncharov wrote: “In spite of the moral pressure exerted on me by the investigating officers of the General Prosecutor’s office, in spite of the threats that I will be murdered by other convicts in the preliminary prison, … I am not going to commit suicide, although somebody, I am sure, is hoping for this. I also want to inform that more than once I got the threats that I would be murdered, and my death would look as a suicide or a death of a disease.

Evidently, it is connected with my statements that I am going to tell at the trial about a number of crimes initiated and committed by the officers of militia, Kyiv department of the DFOC and the special squad “Sokol”, as well as with my intention to unmask the persons, who organized the kidnapping and murder of journalist Gongadze. I am going to evidence in court in the presence of journalist, because I do not trust to the General Prosecutor’s office. 20 February 2003. Written and signed by I. Goncharov.”

On 24 February Goncharov returned to the topic of Gongadze’s disappearance: “I have the materials collected jointly with the USS officers: audio records of talks, written confession of and other materials. I proposed to Khomula to seize these materials officially, in presence of journalists and representatives of the USS. I promised to show, where these materials were stored. Yet, Khomula demanded to pass these materials top him for destruction. Besides, he refused to write down my testimony, he demanded from me to give the false evidence… When I refused, Khomula promised to murder me in the preliminary prison…”

The most interesting document is the appeal of Goncharov (without a date) with the postscript:

“I buried the material evidence, photos, video and audio records, connected with the above-mentioned crimes, … the evidence are in a metal box in a briefcase and sack, […] and my friend […] know the place”.

According to the IMI data, the application on the seizure of these materials with the participation of MPs has been already presented to Grigoriy Omelchenko. He gave the consent to render any assistance, but the materials have not been obtained yet.

The editorial board got the anonymous warning about the possible problems connected with the publication of some facts, so we had to shorten our material. Yet, we have to inform about some interesting data presented by Goncharov.

The most interesting information concerns one of the murders committed in the Kyiv oblast. A local businessman gave the order to a top officer of the DFOC to get the debt from the head of a bank. The order was passed to the DFOC officer M., who sent three drug addicts to fulfill the task. During the action the unpleasant incident happened. The executors injected a psychotropic substance to the businessman’s wife, and she died. So, in order to liquidate the witness, they shot the businessman. One of the murderers stays now under the guard of the DFOC as an important witness, and officer M. departed for the USA (probably, it was he, who was detained this year in the connection with the attempt to learn the address of Gongadze’s wife in the USA)…

Moreover, Goncharov believes that the death of the driver of a well-known political figure was also caused by the injection of a psychotropic substance…

Another case, where three persons were murdered, was committed with the participation of the DFOC officers by the order of a brother of the rector of one of famous Ukrainian technical institutes…

These facts are not only interesting, they are also socially important. So, it is rather strange that the investigation ignored them.

On Tuesday the IMI passed the copies of the documents to the General Prosecutor’s office, and we are continuing our journalistic investigation.

(Institute of mass information, 5 August 2003)

 

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

The comment on the official request of the IMI to the General Prosecutor’s office concerning the documents of former DFOC officer Igor Goncharov

   

Sergiy Taran, the vice-president of the Institute of mass information

More than once the authorities stated that there was no information in the letters of I. Goncharov, a former DFOC officer, which would help in the investigation of the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. In the connection with these statements and taking into account the fact that the Institute of mass information conducts its own investigation of G. Gongadze’s murder, the IMI prepared the official request to the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine.

On 11 August 2003 Mr. Medvedko, a deputy of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, officially stated that there was nothing new for them in the materials received from the IMI. So, the facts about the close cooperation of criminal and power structures are not interesting for the prosecutor’s office. Yet, it is obvious that these facts will worry the Ukrainian public, because the facts described by Goncharov evidence that concrete top state officials were connected with the activities of the group of “turnskins”, moreover, they shielded the group. Well, if the prosecutor’s office had already known about these facts, then why the criminal cases were not started, which would not only disclose the organizers of Gongadze’s murder, but, maybe, would also change the political situation in Ukraine.

Yet, if the prosecutor’s office still has not arrested any of the authorities connected with Gongadze’s case, whose names we learned from the letter of Goncharov, then one can suppose that the workers of the prosecutor’s office did not believe in the facts stated in the letter, although they “checked” them. However, it is strange that the prosecutor’s office did not refute the facts presented by Goncharov, since the accusations are very serious: they concern not only the honor of the agency, but the honor of the state as a whole. The diligence, with which the prosecutor’s office insists on the nothingness of Goncharov’s documents, resembles the times, when the prosecutor’s office was headed by Potebenko, when any information about the probable connection of top state officials with the kidnapping of the journalist were rejected as impossible.

Maybe the prosecutor’s office does not believe that the letters were really written by Goncharov? Then why they did not interrogate him officially, when he was still alive? Why the prosecutor’s office did not seize the material evidences from the place, which was indicated by Goncharov in his letter to the General Prosecutor? Why the prosecutor’s office is so sure that there is “nothing new” among these evidences?

The IMI, on the basis of Article 40 of the Ukrainian Constitution and Articles 9, 32 and 33 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, turned with the official request to General Prosecutor of Ukraine Sviatoslav Piskun. The representatives of the IMI ask to inform:

-  Why the case on the premeditated murder of Georgiy Gongadze is investigated so slowly, if the information communicated by Goncharov “had been known already for a long time”?

-  Why Goncharov was not interrogated, although, according to the information given by his advocate Smorodin, he was more than once visited by a top officer from the General Prosecutor’s office?

-  Why the prosecutor’s office did not seize the material evidences, although Goncharov indicated the place, where they were stored, in his letter to the General Prosecutor?

When we passed the copies of Goncharov’s letters to the General Prosecutor’s office, we hoped that the prosecutor’s office would thoroughly check the facts contained in these letters. We also hoped that the investigation of Gongadze’s case would be more transparent. Yet, neither of these hopes was justified. For several times we tried to get the comments from Sergiy Khomula, the former head of the Kyiv DFOC, whom Goncharov accused of the application of torture. Yet, all our attempts were vain, and we learned from our unofficial sources that it was allegedly prohibited to Khomula to communicate with journalists at all. Yes, we understand that the secret of investigation exists. Yet, we also hope that the law-enforcing organs understand that citizens have the right for information, and journalists have the right to conduct their investigations.

(“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 42, 19 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

On the death of Volodymir Efremov

   

Maria Sambur, a representative of the IMI, who conducts the journalistic investigation of the death of Volodymir Efremov in a road accident, visited Kremenchug. She called on the hospital, where Pavlo Pinchuk, the driver of the truck with which Efremov’s car had collided, stayed. In what follows we present the description of the road accident told by P. Pinchuk.

Before the accident, about 50 meters from that place, he saw that something was wrong with the car, which was coming in the opposite direction: it whirled as on ice. Pinchuk did his best to avoid the collision, but the car darted out to the opposite traffic lane and hit his truck between the gasoline tank and front wheel. The stroke was so strong that the car was thrown to its lane again, and the truck drove to the ditch and stopped.

“When I got out from the cab, I even did not feel my traumas”, tells Pavlo Pinchuk. “I was thinking only about the driver of the car. The car was not on fire yet, but I saw the smoke. I looked into the car and saw that the safety cushion had burst. When I was dragging the driver out, his car was already burning.”

Let us restore the events that happened before the tragedy. “Several minutes before the accident, passing through a village, Efremov drove with the speed 90-100 kilometers per hour”, Igor Prushinskiy, a deputy of the editor-in-chief of the Chernobyl publishing house “Nash chas”, told to Maria Sambur at their meeting in Dnepropetrovsk.

“I was surprised that this car passed through the village with such great speed. He overtook my car, and I absentmindedly looked at the speedometer, it showed 60 km/h”, I. Prushinskiy said, “So I thought that his speed was about 90-100 km/h”.

When Prushinskiy came to the place of accident, five cars were already staying there. The car, which had overtaken him in the village, was burning. He reckons that the driver of this car overtook these five cars too. The people brought fire extinguishers and water from their cars, but they could do nothing.

“The driver of the truck was in shock, but nobody had the anti-shock drugs in their medicine chests”, told Prushinskiy. The behavior of the drivers of two other trucks, who were standing near their vehicles and did not react at the accident, seemed to be strange to Igor.

Other drivers ran up to Pinchuk and helped him to drag the victim out from the car. Efremov’s body was maimed, and he was already dead. The people tried to extinguish the fire, but did not succeed: the car burned to the ground in five minutes. Pavlo Pinchuk had time to see that a man was standing near Efremov’s car with video camera and recording all what happened. After that Pinchuk fainted, and did not observe the arrival of motor ambulance and militia.

The IMI turned to public with the request to assist in the investigation of V. Efremov’s death and obtained several essential evidence and documents.

In particular, a video record, made by one of the eyewitnesses of the tragedy, was sent to the editorial board. Many witnesses of this accident can be found on the basis of this record, and that increases the chances to learn something about the causes of the accident.

(«The Poltava oblast media club», No. 40, 7 August 2003)

***

Alla Lazareva:

Recently the IMI has got two cassettes with video records of the death of journalist Volodymir Efremov made by two different people. Neither the official investigation nor our journalistic investigation is completed yet.

After the talk with P. Pinchuk, the driver of the truck, with which Efremov’s car had collided, we turned to public with the request to send to us the video record of our colleague’s death. We learned about the existence of the record from Pinchuk. Pavlo Pinchuk saw a man, who was standing near Efremov’s car with video camera and recording the accident.

Although we scarcely believed in the success, our hopes were justified, and even more than we could expect. At first journalist Valeriy Kiselev, a representative of a TV company from Nikopol, phoned and proposed to pass the video record to us. This TV company is owned by the Nikopol plant of ferroalloys and is a partner of the Dnepropetrovsk 11th channel. The person, who made the record, refused to contact with us directly. This person also did not want to explain us, what he had done at this road with the professional camera. We only managed to learn that this man was not a journalist.

By the way, the record was made not in the professional, but in the amateurish format. Later one more phone call was got by the IMI and somebody… again proposed to give us the video record of Volodymir Efremov’s death. That time the author of the record was not anonymous. Petro Sushko, the head of the public organization “Zakhyst” told us, that accidentally he had been at the 299th kilometer of the road “Dnepropetrovsk – Borispol”, and recorded the accident hoping to sell the record to some TV channel. Yet, no TV channel agreed to buy this material. The Nikopol anonymous video amateur was luckier: he sold his record to the local TV channel.

When our representative Matia Sambut visited Dnepropetrovsk soon after Efremov’s death, the unofficial information was circulating in journalistic and law-enforcing circles of the city that the 11th channel possessed this record. Yet, the 11th channel, which had been founded and headed by Efremov, neither confirmed this information nor rendered the record to the investigating organs.

Thus, the IMI officially passed the copies of the both cassettes to the investigation. Other copies were left in the Institute for the independent expert analysis. One of the records is concentrated on Volodymir’s car, and another – on the truck, with which our colleague collided.

However, why two persons with video cameras appeared at the place of allegedly usual road accident? Well, one of the amateurs might be there by chance, but the presence of two people seems to be not casual. So, how to explain this situation? I cannot say it for sure, since the investigation still lasts, but I will express one assumption. Volodymir told me for many times that he was shadowed. Now I am blaming myself for the lack of interests to his words: I did not ask who shadowed him and for what. Efremov was not a paranoiac, but he was a very cautious man. For example, he always switched off his cell phone during serious talks.

Maybe the people, who shadowed Efremov, decided to make the video record of their object’s death for reporting to their employees? Or these people knew that the accident would happen? Alas, these questions are merely rhetorical, because the “author” of the “Nikopol cassette” refused to communicate with us.

Two years ago V. Efremov 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”.”

I cannot say that I knew Volodymir very well, but it is doubtless that he was afraid of something. Of some information, which he knew, but did not communicate either to his relatives or to his colleagues? Of the revenge of his former (or actual) partners? Or of something else?

When Pavlo Lazarenko was the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast council and, later, the Prime-Minister of Ukraine, V. Efremov created the media-holding in Dnepropetrovsk: the 11th TV channel, newspapers “Soibor” and “Dnepropetrovsk”, radio company and informational agency… When, at the election of 1998, Lazarenko’s party “Gromada” got about 80% of votes in Dnepropetrovsk, other influential person of the city disliked that very much. P. Lazarenko escaped to the USA, and the destruction of the “pro- Lazarenko” mass media began throughout the country.

In January 1999 Efremov stayed in custody for several days under the pretext of the allegedly incorrectly registered bank credit. Yet, what really happened? Volodymir told me that the pressure was exerted on him for the cooperation with the ex-prime-minister, in particular, for the agitation for “Gromada”
at the election. Little by little Efremov lost all his mass media, naturally not for his own free will. In spring V. Efremov met with Lazarenko’s advocates Harold Rosenthal and Marina Dovgopola. The advocates confirmed that he had agreed to come to San Francisco and to appear in court. Later the American Embassy informed the IMI that the candidature of this witness was suggested by the advocates, but the court refused to listen to him.

Could the consent to give evidence on Lazarenko’s case become the reason of Efremov’s death? We do not know, since we have no materials proving or disproving this version. Yet, we know for sure that the status of the editor-in-chief of several large-scale regional mass media guaranteed to Efremov the great amount of information about the events of 1996-1999.

Could Efremov cooperate with the political opponents of the present owners of the 11th Dnepropetrovsk TV channel, whom he, obviously, disliked? We hope that the investigation will answer this question. And we will continue our journalistic investigation…

(«The Poltava oblast media-bulletin”, No. 42, 19 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attacks at journalists in Donetsk (Eduard Malinovskiy, Sergiy Kuzin, Vasyl Vasiutin)

   

Three journalists were attacked in Donetsk during three days.

At night of 12 August, in the downtown of Donetsk, five strangers attacked Eduard Malinovskiy, a correspondent of the Internet-edition “Ostrov”. The offenders did not take journalist’s bag, documents and credit card.

In the early hours of the morning of 14 August Sergiy Kuzin, a journalist of the oblast newspaper “Aktsent”, was beaten and robbed. The criminals attacked him from behind, hit him with a club for several times and took away his cell phone and brief case with passport and service documents.

The third victim, Vasil Vasiutin, a deputy of the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Zolotoy Skif”, was attacked in a street. The criminals cruelly beat him, took away his cell phone and escaped. The journalist was transported to the oblast hospital with the cerebral brain concussion.

In the connection with the repeated attacks on journalists the General Prosecutor’s office took these cases under its special control. Aleksandr Medvedko, a deputy of the General Prosecutor, made this information public at a briefing. 170 criminal cases connected with robbing, hooliganism, road accidents and thefts directed against journalists and journalists’ collectives were instituted during 2002 and 2003. More than 60 of these cases have been already passed to courts.

(«Kievskie vedomosti», 16 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004 | Oleksandr Mishchenko

Appeal for the press in the connection with beating of three journalists on Donetsk

   

Taking into account the fact that, in any civilized country, the activities of mass media representatives are considered to be one of the most important principles of democracy, every attack on journalists in these countries is regarded by everybody, including the power structures, as a threat to the entire society. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian power, in particular the law-enforcing organs, does not trouble oneself with the thorough investigation of such cases. On the contrary, they do their best for the concealment of the actual reasons of the attacks on journalists.

The events in Donetsk, when three my friends and colleagues were beaten during three nights, wholly confirm this statement.

Maybe law-enforcers are right, and the attacks on Malinovskiy, Kuzin and Vasiutin are not connected with their professional activities. Yet, then I want to ask out brave militiamen: why robbers and hooligans rage in the downtown? If three attacks on journalists during three nights is a quite normal phenomena, then one can calculate how many people (if to take into account the number of the professions in Donetsk) suffer daily in Donetsk. Now I am not surprised with the fact that the representatives of state power and large-scale business walk along Donetsk streets only with their bodyguards. Alas, common citizens, including journalists, are unable to protect themselves, and those, who must protect them, are passive.

I do not insist that the attacks on the Donetsk journalists were committed by somebody’s order, but the number of the victims seems to be too large for such a short term.

I regard these crimes as the consequences of another repartition of power and business in the region. The journalists merely became the scapegoats in this conflict. I do not believe that the power can protect them and stop the terror against the representatives of mass media.

(“Politichna Ukraina”, 15 August 2003)

***

The conflict in Donetsk between Rinat Akhmetov’s group and Viktor Yanukovich’s group is obvious now.

The story with the billboards became the first evidence of the repartition of influence spheres. At night all billboards advertising “Zolotoy Skif”, a project of V. Yanukovich, were dismounted without proper documents and permissions. The events in other spheres also confirm the development of the conflict between the financial-industrial groups at the advertising market. Now the people, who are connected with “Zolotoy Skif”, suffer various troubles.

Three local journalists were beaten in the Donetsk downtown. All of them got the cerebral brain concussion or bone fractures. And all of them were working in the magazine “Zolotoy Skif”: deputy editor Vasil Vasiutin, journalists Eduard Malinovskiy and Sergiy Kuzin. Militia does not connect these crimes with the professional activities of the victims. However, Sergiy Guz, the head of the independent media trade union, is sure that these attacks are connected with the conflict that is raging in the region after the transfer of several top city authorities to Kyiv. Leonid Zverev, the executive manager of the Institute of mass information, reckons that these crimes are connected with the repartition of the media-space on the eve of presidential election.

Oleksandr Mishchenko, the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Zolotoy Skif”, also thinks that the attacks on his colleagues were connected with “another repartition of power and business in the region”. In his statement for the press he said: “I am surprised with the brutal revenge on journalists. I do not insist that the attacks on the Donetsk journalists were committed by somebody’s order, but the number of the victims seems to be too large for such a short term”.

(«Ukrainske slovo», No. 34, 21-27 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Criminal attacks on journalists in the Lugansk oblast

   

Soon after the events in Donetsk, new victims appeared in the Lugansk oblast, informs the newspaper “Luganski novyny”.

That time the criminals attacked Yuri Aseev, a journalist of the newspaper “XXXI vek”, Volodymir Inogorskiy, the editor of the same newspaper, Boris Ivanov, a journalist of the Lugansk oblast newspaper “RIO+”, and Olena Kravchenko, a journalist of the Donetsk TV company “Zakaz”. All victims were returning from the wedding of Yuri Aseev. When the journalists entered one of dark alleys, they noticed a jeep, which drove after them. Several strangers attacked the journalists, beat them and took away their personal things. In the morning the victims were transported to the Central hospital of Alchevsk. Now all of them are already discharged from the hospital. A criminal case was started after the fact of the attack. The investigation is going on.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 153, 22 August 2003, «Barometr», 16-08-2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Response of the General Prosecutor’s office to the IMI about the criminal attacks on journalists

   

The Institute of mass information received from the General Prosecutor’s office the response to the resolution of the Forum of journalists “Legal self-protection” concerning the impediment to the professional activities of journalists. The response reads that all facts mentioned in the resolution will be checked and the conclusions will be made. So, the General Prosecutor’s office checked the materials of the investigation of the criminal case on inflicting the body injuries to Mikhail Novik, the head of the fund “Reporter”, and came to the conclusion that there were no data, which evidenced about the impediment to professional activities of the journalist.

As to the intimidation of Vera Kitaygorodska, the editor of a Chernivtsy newspaper, by Ivan Muntian, the head of the oblast council, the General Prosecutor’s office answered that, after the second check of the facts, the decision was taken not to start the criminal case.

The pre-trial investigation of the attack on Rivne journalist Vitaliy Dovgich was also suspended because the criminals had not been found.

(«Ukrainske slovo», No. 34, 21-27 August 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Kirovograd militia protects journalists

   

Taking into account the specificity of journalistic profession and the public interests to the crimes committed against the mass media workers, the top officers of the Kirovograd oblast militia directorate control every case of that kind. This was confirmed by the cases on robberies of three Kirovograd journalists that were committed in June-July 2003.

Within two days the detectives of Kirovograd town militia directorate disclosed the robbery of two workers of local TV company. Efim Marmer, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Ukraina-Tsentr”, called the disclosure of the robbery of a correspondent of his newspaper “a demonstration of high professionalism of militiamen”. Journalists of the newspaper “Ukraina-Tsentr” thanked the law-enforcers for their conscientious work.

(«Imenem zakonu», No. 33, 15-21 August 2003)

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

A court prohibited video and audio recording (Kirovograd)

   

The editorial board of the Kirovograd newspaper “Prosto gazeta” received a very interesting document from one of its readers. A Kirovograd dweller, which was a plaintiff at one of court sittings, invited representatives of mass media to the trial. Yet, the audio recording and photography in the courtroom were prohibited. The claimant turned to the court with the petition about journalists’ rights and got the resolution concerning the rights for photography, audio and video recording during the court sitting.

The resolution reads: ”The court decided that there were no grounds for the satisfaction of this petition, since the claimant had no concern with the journalists, who wanted to carry out the recording and whose rights were allegedly violated. This case is not interesting for public”.

Well, this is a rather peculiar approach to the freedom of speech!

Is it possible that mass media may publish the materials about some events only after the court resolution about the public interest of these events? Is not it clear that the prohibition of photography, audio and video recording violates the operating laws and impedes the work of the representatives of mass media?

(http://maidan.org.ua/n/news/1061987521, “Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

Krivoy Rog town council does not want to recognize journalists Valentina Krivda and Natalya Sokurenko

   

7 August 2003. The IMI got the appeal from the Initiative Group of independent journalists of Krivoy Rog, who complained against the illegal actions of local authorities. According to the words of journalists Valentina Krivda and Natalya Sokurenko, they are not admitted to the sessions of the town council and have no real access to documents. “This is a direct impediment to the professional activities of journalists”, the appeal reads. Three journalists handed the claims to the town prosecutor’s office about the institution of criminal cases in the accordance with Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine after the fact that on 9 July 2003 they had not been admitted to the session of the Krivoy Rog town council.

(Barometr)

***

Mykola Korobko, Krivoy Rog:

The Krivoy Rog town authorities began the reluctant and muddled retreat before the unexpectedly massive public support of the demands presented by journalist Valentina Krivda. The initiator of this just indignation stubbornly strives for the cancellation of Article 13 of the Regulations on the work of the town council and for the free access to the sessions of the town council for the representatives of mass media independently of their political orientation and their proximity to the power. Valentina Krivda, being a victim of such discrimination of journalists, during five months turned to all agencies connected with the work of mass media. This campaign attracted the attention of public to the case.

More than ten publications appeared in local mass media, bulletin “Prava ludyny” published by the Kharkov group for human rights protection also commented on this case, the collection of signatures began under the motto “Render the freedom of speech to Krivoy Rog!”

Almost 500 signatures of Krivoy Rog dwellers were presented to town mayor Yuri Lubonenko. The responses of various officials to the informational requests of V. Krivda confirmed the groundlessness of the attempts of the town power to prevent her presence at the sessions of the town council.

Besides, in the beginning of June of the current year O. Kovalkova, a deputy of the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast directorate of justice, communicated the following (letter No. 04-5/1840 of 1 July 2003): “After the juridical analysis of the above-mentioned laws and other operating normative-legal acts, which concern your question, we came to the conclusion that there existed no operating normative-legal acts containing the norm, according to which any physical or juridical person had the authority “to establish the necessity of the presence of the representatives of state organs, district councils, political parties, other public organizations, labor collectives, press and TV at the sittings of the town council or permanently working commissions…””

Yet, the Regulations on the work of the town council are just the act, which prevents the appearance of independent journalists in the session hall!

So, under the pressure of the irrefutable proofs of the absence of any legal grounds for ousting the journalists from the important social mission, the town power began to manipulate with the accreditation of journalist V. Krivda. Despite the numerous attempts of the all-Ukrainian weekly “Shliakh Peremogi” to achieve the accreditation of its correspondent, V. Petrovnin, the executive officer of the executive committee, continues to “explain” that “the accreditation of a journalist in the organs of local self-rule is realized on the basis of the official appeal handed by the mass medium to the corresponding organ or on the basis of the appeal of the journalist, who must present the proper documents confirming their professional status or the recommendations of the professional journalists’ union” (V. Petrovnin’s words). Then V. Petrovnin continued the demonstration of his “legal knowledge”. He pointed out: “Your letter reads about the accreditation of your freelance worker V. Krivda, but not a journalist”. In this connection M. Makar, the manager of the company “Ukrainska Vydavnicha Spilka” (“Ukrainian Union of Publishers”), the founder of the weekly, had to turn to the executive committee of the Krivoy Rog town council, which, without the open participation of the mayor, inflexibly defends the non-transparency of the work of the council. The motives and arguments quoted in the appeal are worthy of note: “… The official response (outgoing No. 7/31-1528 of 25 July 2003) of V. Petrovnin, the executive officer of the executive committee, motivates the refusal in the accreditation of our freelance correspondent by the absence of the confirmation of her professional status. At that, the official interprets the above-mentioned law incorrectly and distorts the provisions of this law”.

We want to remind that the Law reads: “… on the basis of the official appeal handed by the mass medium” OR “… on the basis of the appeal of the journalist with the confirmation of his professional status”. So, these two kinds of the appeals on accreditation are not connected with each other, and a mass medium has the right to accredit in the organs of local self-rule any worker of this media, even a freelance one. Besides, V. Petrovnin’s demonstrates his dense incompetence considering the concepts “correspondent” and “journalist” to be absolutely different and stating that the Law concerns only the latter ones… So, taking into account the above-mentioned arguments, we are forced to regard the unmotivated refusal in the accreditation of our correspondent V. Krivda as a brutal violation of the Law of Ukraine “On the procedure of elucidation of the activities of the organs of state power and organs of local self-rule in Ukraine by mass media” and impediment to the professional activities of the journalist and mass media by the officials of the organ of state power, in particular, by executive officer V. Petrovnin”.

However, only several journalists were invited by the officials to the July session of the town council (the third one after the beginning of the protest campaign): representatives of the newspaper “Chervony girnyk” (the organ of the town council), municipal TV and radio company “Rudana” and state TV and radio company “Krivorizhzhia”. Valentina Krivda, a correspondent of the all-Ukrainian weekly “Shliakh Peremogi”, Olena Kostadinova, a deputy of the editor-in-chief of the civil-political newspaper “Pravo”, and Natalya Sokurenko, the editor-in-chief of the oblast independent social-political newspaper “Tochka zreniya” and the assistant-consultant of MP Grigoriy Omelchenko, the head of the deputies’ union “Antimafia”, were not admitted to the session.

The reaction of the prosecutor’s office to the facts of the impediment to the professional activities of journalists was aimed at the support of the illegal actions of the power and must be investigated additionally. Ivan Chizh, the head of the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting, confirmed in his letter of 1 August 2003 the propriety of V. Krivda’s demands and expressed the gratitude “for the allegiance to principles in the fulfillment of journalist’s professional duties”. Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, directed the letter of 11 July 2003 to the Krivoy Rog town council and to the journalists of the editions “Tochka zreniya”, “Shliakh Peremogi” and “Pravo”. In this letter he refers to the proper laws and reminds that “The accreditation is given according to the administrative procedure, so the provisions on accreditation, issued by the corresponding power organs, must not introduce any grounds for the refusal in accreditation to the journalists, who presented the needed documents (underlined by M. Tomenko). The journalists must be accredited. It should be noted that the Law does not envisage any limitations of the number of journalists, who may get the accreditation”.

Finally, after several fruitless checks conducted by the demand of V. Krivda, even the prosecutor’s office understood what was the matter of the case. In the letter of 13 June 2003 Krivoy Rog prosecutor V. Kravets, a juridical counselor of the 3rd class, wrote that the subject of V. Krivda’s complaint – the Regulations on the work of the Krivoy Rog town council – agreed with the operating laws. However, two months later the prosecutor’s office had to change its opinion. The above-mentioned letter reads: “According to the Regulations on the work of the Krivoy Rog town council, representatives of state organs, district councils, political parties, other public organizations, labor collectives, printed mass media and TV are invited to the sittings of the town council only if necessary. The transparency of the work of the town council is provided by the way of elucidation by TV, radio, printed mass media, in particular, the informational organs of the Krivoy Rog town council and executive committee: the town newspaper “Chervony girnyk” and the TV and radio company “Rudana”. The check did not uncover any brutal violations (maybe the prosecutor’s office does not deal with not-brutal violations? – Author’s note) of the laws concerning your right for obtaining the information about the work of the sessions of the town council; so, there no grounds for taking some measures”. The letter of the prosecutor’s office of 22 August 2003 signed by the acting prosecutor of Krivoy Rog runs: “According to the results of the check, Article 13 of the Regulations on the work of the town council contradicts to the norms of the operating laws. On the recommendations of the Krivoy Rog prosecutor’s office, Article 13 of the Regulations will be brought to accordance with the legal norms. Besides, the working deputies’ group was created at the Krivoy Rog town council. The group prepared the propositions on the procedure of the accreditation of representatives of mass media in the town council and the Regulations on the procedure of elucidating the work of the town council and its executive organs. The mentioned documents will be presented for the consideration to the deputies of the town council in August 2003”. The last paragraph of the letter promises another iteration of the exhaustive red tape, since the town authorities will do their best to dodge from the transparency, one of the main principles, on which, according to the Law of Ukraine “On local self-rule in Ukraine”, the local self-rule is based. We are sure that the drafts of the changes, which are inaccessible for the public, will be directed towards the preservation of the opacity of the existing local normative base connected with the accreditation of journalists.

(“Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

Mykola Tomenko: “temniks” again?

   

29 August 2003. Mykola Tomenko commented the appearance of new “temniks”, which were sent by journalists to the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information. These documents contain the recommendations about the elucidation of the most important events in social and political life of the country. In particular, according to the information given by the press service of “Nasha Ukraina”, it is proposed to journalists to ignore the statements about the political reform by MPs Boris Bespaly, Petro Oliynuk and Aleksey Gudyma, the meeting of vice-speaker A. Zinchenko with the delegation of the German Union of young state employees, as well as the article, which was published by the American newspaper “The New York Times”, that reads that Ukraine is governed by “gangster” Leonid Kuchma. M. Tomenko informed that the experts, who analyzed the “temniks”, reckon that these documents were compiled by the specialists from Bankova Street.

(Institute of mass information, «Barometr svobody slova», August 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Claim of the special militia department of the Lugansk oblast against the head of the Lugansk oblast public organization “Postup” and the weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk”

   

On 6 August 2003 the preliminary trial talk was conducted in the connection with the case concerning the publication in the oblast weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk” (No. 14, 3 April 2003) of the article written by the head of the Lugansk oblast public organization “Postup”.

The claim was handed by the special militia department of the Lugansk oblast militia directorate against Konstantin Reutskiy, the head of the public organization “Postup”, and the weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk”, where the article by Reutskiy had been published. In the article Konstantin Reutskiy, being an independent journalist, described the conflict between him and the special militia department.

The prehistory of the conflict is the following. The NGO “Postup” rented a part of former kindergarten No. 110, where the public organization created the rehabilitation center for homeless children. Another part of this building was occupied by the special militia department (SMD). Since January 2003 the rehabilitation center is closed, so the homeless children cannot get the protection and aid there. Konstantin Reutskiy asserted in his article that the center had been closed because of the absence of electricity and the unwillingness of major Mishchenko, the head of the SMD, to help the public organization to solve the problem. The fact of the matter is that the panel, from which the electric power can be switched on, is situated on the territory of the SMD, but it is possible to make the autonomous connection of the rehabilitation center to the same panel without any financial losses of militia. In spite of this, the commandment of the SMD refused to connect the rehabilitation center to the electric panel.

According to Konstantin Reutskiy, the reason for the refusal was major Mishchenko’s wish to force K. Reutskiy to organize the meeting of the militia officer with the head of the fund “Bereginia”, the tenant of the third part of the building. The head of the fund, in his turn, did not want to meet the major. Besides, the head of “Postup” supposed in his article: “Either the children center became the hostage of the strained relations between the special militia department and the charity fund “Bereginia”, or militia is merely displeased with the vicinity of the establishment that patronize the homeless children”.

In the claim major Mishchenko explained that his refusal to connect the center to the electric network was caused by the necessity to agree the technical details of the connection in the “corresponding organizations” and to consider the possibility of connecting “Postup” to the energy power system of the SMD or “Bereginia”.

After several unsuccessful attempts to come to the agreement with the militia department Konstantin Reutskiy expressed his opinion about the situation in the article, after the publication of which he was summoned to court. The militiamen reckon that the opinion of K. Reutskiy on this problematic situation and the way of its description in the newspaper inflicted a serious damage to the honor, dignity and reputation of the SMD. Probably, the commandment of the militia department thinks that the best method to improve the reputation is to bring an action against a public organization that patronizes homeless children.

In the claim the head of the SMD demands: 1) to refute the information, which discredits militia; 2) to oblige Konstantin Reutskiy to apologize to the collective of the SMD.

However, it became obvious that the representative of militia could not explain what facts had to be refuted. The unconvincing arguments of the militia officer, which he adduced in judge’s office, were summed up by the phrase: “This article as a whole is unpleasant for militia”.

The judge appointed the court consideration on 12 September 2003.

Public keeps the eye on this case. The members of the organization “Total action for the support of human rights and democracy” and local journalists were present at the trial. During the preparation to the trial the head of “Postup” got the legal consultation from the public organization “For professional aid”.

The additional materials about this case can be found on the site of “Total action for the support of human rights and democracy”: http://totalaction.iatp.org.ua.

P. S. The peculiarities of the work of the judicial system are also interesting. Although the suit was brought both against Konstantin Reutskiy and the newspaper “Vecherniy Lugansk”, the subpoena was sent only to Reutskiy. And the editorial board of the newspaper knew nothing about the claim until Reutskiy informed them about that.

(“Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Claim of Mirgorod mayor O. Pautov against the newspaper “Mirgorodska Pravda” and the editor of the newspaper

   

V. Kozoriz, “Mirgorodska Pravda”:

The enemies of “Mirgorodska Pravda” began to celebrate their victory too early. I want to remind that on 23 June 2003 the Okhtyrka town court partly satisfied the claim of Mirgorod mayor Oleksandr Pautov against the opposition newspaper “Mirgorodska Pravda” and Viktor Kozoriz, the editor of the newspaper. The court obliged the defendants to refute the information that had been published in the newspaper and to pay 2100 hryvnas of moral compensation. Yet, since the decision was issued with numerous brutal violations of the norms of material and procedural right, I turned to the appeal court of the Sumy oblast, and the decision has not come into force until now.

However, the court decision on this case was rather predictable, because our court system is subordinated to the executive power and religiously fulfills all orders of state authorities. At that the judges, in order to please the officials, resort not only to open violations of laws, but also to manipulations with facts. For instance, I handed to the Okhtyrka town court more than twenty documents confirming the incompetence of town mayor O. Pautov and the authoritarian style of his work. Yet, the court ignored these proofs. The court referred in its decision only to the proofs, which were favorable for the plaintiff (such as diplomas obtained from the President and oblast administration). Besides, the court wittingly did not separate the facts and evaluative judgments, which were expressed in my article, thus violating not only the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian laws, but also the norms of the international right, which guarantee the freedom of expression to every person. The court saw the malicious intent in the publication of the truth about the activities of town mayor. This malicious intent, in the opinion of judge Galina Koroliova, consisted in the fact that the newspaper with the mentioned article had been published on the eve of the Day of local self-rule, the professional holiday of O. Pautov, thus inflicting terrible moral sufferings to him. Yet, the newspaper was issued ten days after this holiday, and the article was not connected with that day. So, the judge had to have very forcible reasons for coming to the opposite conclusion. I even suppose that she was intimidated or bribed. The competent lawyers, who analyzed the decision of the Okhtyrka town court notices that the decision word for word quoted the arguments of V. Pedorich, a representative of O. Pautov, and, maybe, was even written by him. Moreover, for some reasons, the judge issued the decision only four days after the consideration of the case, which is also a brutal violation of the CPC of Ukraine.

So, such is the real face of the modern Ukrainian Themis.

(«The Poltava oblast media club», No. 40, 7 August 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Cherkassy weekly “Antenna” against the town directorate for fighting the organized crime

   

12 August 2003. The Cherkassy weekly “Antenna” won the process against the head of the Cherkassy oblast directorate for fighting the organized crime (DFOC), and the Appeal court of the Cherkassy oblast did not satisfy the complaint of Oleksandr Mikish, the DFOC head and the first deputy of the head of the oblast militia directorate. O. Mikish complained against the decision of Sosnovskiy district court, which had rejected his claim against the newspaper “Antenna”.

The conflict started in the heat of the discussion in the press of the case of militia lieutenant-general Kochegarov, who tried to commit suicide in his office. Kochegarov wrote several short letters before the suicide. In one of these letters he wrote that journalist Valentina Vasilchenko was guilty of his death, in other letter he accused a DFOC officer. These facts generated different versions (including the attempt at Kochegarov’s life), which were discussed not only in regional, but also in central mass media. The head of the Cherkassy DFOC interpreted the publications in “Antenna” as the accusation of “the unsuccessful attempt to organize the murder of Kochegarov”. O. Mikish demanded to recompense him the moral damage equivalent to 80 thousand hryvnas, but the Sosnovskiy district court refused to satisfy the claim.

(Barometr)

***

Andrey Lubenskiy:

Now, probably, the case DFOC vs. “Antenna” will be passed to the Supreme Court. Tetiana Doncheva, a deputy of the editor-in-chief of “Antenna”, communicated to a correspondent of ForUm that she had got this information from Mikish’s advocate.

Meanwhile, last week “Antenna” published the material, the author of which quoted the complaint of Cherkassy dweller N., who had been detained by the DFOC officers. In this complaint N. writes that the officers tried to make him to confess to a crime he had not fulfilled, and one of the law-enforcers beat him. On Monday the editorial board received the letter, which was signed: “Commandment of the Cherkassy oblast Directorate for fighting the organized crime”. The letter contained the gratitude to the editorial board “for critical articles about the activities of the Cherkassy oblast DFOC and the oblast militia as a whole”. Yet, the letter reads, the activities of the DFOC are elucidated by the newspaper one-sidedly. So, in the material about N.’s misadventures the newspaper adduced only the arguments of this citizen, which “are ungrounded”. At the same time, the newspaper “ignored the facts, on the ground of which the ODA had been conducted: the appeals of citizens, who turned to the DFOC complaining against the extortion of bribes by citizen N.” The author (or authors?) of the letter reckon that in that way “this publication ignored President’s Edict of 13 August 2002 No. 700/2002 “On the additional measures for guaranteeing the realization of constitutional citizens’ right for appeals””.

Tetiana Doncheva supposed that the mentioned publication would also become a subject of a claim. “We will not be surprised by that”, she said, “we are surprised by other thing: why the letter sent by such respectable agency was, in fact, anonymous?”

(«Ukrainskiy Media Server»)

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

08.04.2004

Lviv mayor Lubomir Buniak must apologize to “Ekspress”

   

The Galitskiy district court of Lviv obliged Lviv mayor Lubomir Buniak to refute the information spread by him in August 2002, when he demanded from Lviv newspapers to apologize for the participation in the organization of the aviation show, where the catastrophe of a plane “Cy-27” happened.

Representative of the court informed that the mayor might appeal against this decision to a court of higher instance. He did not give any other details.

We want to remind that in August 2002 the newspaper “Express” turned to court and demanded from L. Buniak to refute the accusations brought by him against the newspapers. The editorial board did not demand any material compensation.

The mayor blamed the mass media, which had been the informational sponsors of the aviation show, because they had not been curious about the safety of this action.

As a result of the catastrophe of the plane “Cy-27” in July 2002 in Lviv 76 persons perished.

(“Ukrainski novyny”, 18 August 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Miron Melnik, a journalist of district newspaper “Golos opislia”, will be resumed at his job

   

19 August 2003. Rogatinskiy district court of Ivano-Frankivsk took the decision to resume Miron Melnik, a journalist of district newspaper “Golos opislia”, at his job. The court obliged the editorial board to pay 1893 hryvnas to Melnik for his forced five-month truancy and to recompense him the court expenses. The illegally fired journalist was represented in court by Tetiana Kirichenko, the IMI lawyer. The court established that editor of “Golos opislia” Galina Bogun (appointed to her post by co-founders of the newspaper: district and town council) had brutally violated the labor code and illegally dismissed M. Melnik. On 8 April 2003 Miron Melnik turned to the court with the claim about his return to the job. By the words of the journalist, he did not get the proper consultations from state advocates. Moreover, in spite of his repeated appeals to the oblast organization of the NUJU, he did not get any support from them.

(Barometr)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases

08.04.2004

Criminal case of Raylesku-Vidinski (Odessa)

   

27 August 2003. The court of the Tsentralny district of Odessa released journalist Paraskoviya Raylesku-Vidinski on the basis of her appeal and amnestied her. The court considered two questions: on the cessation of the coercive treatment in the special psychiatric clinic of Dnepropetrovsk and on withdrawal of the case after Article 6 item 4 of the CPC of Ukraine. As early as on 3 February 2003 the commission of psychiatrists headed by psychiatrist of higher category Mr. Chinchik, the director of the Center of medical-social rehabilitation and psychological aid, came to the conclusion that “Raylesku-Vidinski does not need the coercive psychiatric treatment”.

The criminal case of Ventseslav Raylesku-Vidinski was instituted in winter of this year. The Odessa oblast court did not issue the sanction for his arrest. This case is now considered by the investigation department of the Odessa oblast militia.

The criminal case of Paraskoviya Raylesku-Vidinski was started in May 2002 on the basis of the Criminal Code of 1961. Advocates of P. Raylesku-Vidinski are now preparing the claims about the compensation of material and moral damage inflicted to Raylesku-Vidinski by law-enforcing organs of Ukraine.

(Barometr)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases

08.04.2004

Lithuatian publishing and polygraphic center “Taki spravy” will turn to the European court

   

19 August 2003. The daughter enterprise of the Lithuatian publishing and polygraphic center “Taki spravy” decided to turn to the European court of human rights with the claim on the protection of rights of Valentin Romanov, the manager of the company “Rembudproekt”, who had been condemned in November 2002 by the Solomyanskiy court of Kyiv to six years with the confiscation of all property for benefit of the state. The interests of Valentin Romanov will be defended by Swedish law firm “Glimshted”, which will hand the claim to the European court.

 (Barometr)

Violations of privacy

08.04.2004

Family “cassette scandal” (Lviv)

   

Galina Tereshchuk, radio “Liberty”

Recently the Galytskiy district court of Lviv has begun to consider the case, which can be called a family “cassette scandal”. Natalya Zdorova turned to court with the claim against her former husband and his mother, who, as the ex-wife suspected, illegally wiretapped her phone talks.

There is nothing extraordinary in this story except one detail: the former mother-in-law works in the oblast USS directorate as an office-cleaner. The ex-husband brought to N. Zdorova the copy of his application about divorce and the audiocassette with the record of her phone talks. Natalya Zdorova turned to the oblast prosecutor’s office with the demand to start the criminal case after the fact of illegal wiretapping of her private phone talks. She expressed the suspicion that the mother of her husband had organized the wiretapping. The plaintiff also turned for the explanations to the oblast USS directorate and got the response that her former mother-in-law even had no service certificate of the USS.

The investigating officer of the prosecutor’s office did not establish the fact of the violation of confidentiality of phone talks of N. Zdorova. The claim was rejected because of the absence of corpus delicti. This conclusion was drawn on the basis of the explanations of the former husband and mother-in-law of Natalya.

The woman turned with the complaint to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine. She informed that the cassette really existed, but the oblast prosecutor’s office had not even listened to the record. The case was passed from Kyiv to the oblast prosecutor’s office again for the additional investigation.

Ms. Zdorova turned with the complaint to the Galytskiy district court of Lviv. At the first court sitting the representative of the prosecutor’s office told that he was sure that the USS had no connection with this story. Yet, the claimant continues to demand from the prosecutor’s office to find the persons, who wiretapped her talks. Now the court consideration is suspended and the prosecutor’s office proceeds with the investigation of this unexampled case.

However, I want to point out that, according to the Criminal Code, the violation of the confidence of correspondence, phone talks or electronic correspondence is punished with the fine from 50 to 100 minimum untaxed wages, or the reformative works for the term up to two years, or the restriction of liberty for the term up to three years. The obtaining of information is punished with the fine from 100 to 200 minimum untaxed wages, or the restriction of liberty for the term up to four years, or the incarceration for the same term.

(“Prava ludyny” (Ukrainian version), No. 22, 1-15 August 2003)

Violations of privacy

08.04.2004

The USS wants to know the public opinion about the draft of the law on the monitoring of telecommunications

   

“Interfax-Ukraina” informs that the Ukrainian Security Service proposes to all interested parties to express their opinions on the draft of the law developed by the USS on the creation of the special system of the monitoring of telecommunications.

On 27 August the USS press service spread the statement, which read that the text of the draft was placed on the official site of the USS, that the security service hoped “to receive the comments, remarks and suggestions from all interested organizations and persons” and that these comments and suggestions would be taken into account in the process of discussing the draft.

The document presented to the Parliament envisages the creation of the unified monitoring system for the secret collection of information during the ODA, intelligence and counterespionage activities.

The USS declares in its statement that this draft does not extend the authorities of law-enforcing organs, but envisages the technical and organizational measures for the conduction of the monitoring on the legal grounds. Besides, the adoption of the law will not require from the state any additional material or other expenses.

“The monitoring of telecommunications realized on the legal grounds is a demand of our time caused by the complicated criminal situation that has formed in the world”, declares the USS.

Representatives of the special service point out that the development of informational technologies and improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure of Ukraine with its gradual integration into the international informational space result in the necessity of the adequate alteration of the legislation concerning the protection of the rights of the people, community and state in the informational sphere.

“This problem becomes especially significant, if to take into account the increase of the number of the cases of cybernetic crimes and the use of the informational technologies by terrorist groups”, the USS representatives reckon.

The unified monitoring system, according to the law draft, will be created and maintained by the USS. The right to use this system will be rendered to the organs that will have the right, on the basis of the corresponding laws, for the secret collection of information from the communication channels.

By the information of Korrespondent.net, the Cabinet of Ministers has already presented the draft “On the monitoring of telecommunications” for consideration by the Parliament.

Now, according to the law on the ODA, the right for the secret collection of information (approved by court) is rendered to some units of militia, the USS, frontier troops, Directorate of state guard, special units of tax militia, State tax administration, Penitentiary Department and the intelligence service of the Ministry of Defense.

For the introduction of the monitoring system all operators of telecommunications will have to purchase (at their own expense) the equipment for the monitoring and to install it on their territory. The technical maintenance of the equipment will be also realized at the expense of operators. The tools for the system control will be situated on the territories occupied by the USS.

Igor Diadiura, the head of the executive committee of the all-Ukrainian public organization “Ukrainian Internet community”, criticized this law draft. He believes that the Parliament must reject the draft and to direct it for revision, in particular because of the great number of the conditions of the work of the monitoring system, which are not concretized in the draft.

(www.korrespondent.net 27 August 2003, “Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004

Independent 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 everybody’s 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”.

(“Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, №08

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