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№09
2003

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine

General problems

08.04.2004

Introduction of changes to the legislation on information – “the territory of truth”

   

Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkov group for human rights protection:

«If the introduction of changes to the legislation on information would have some real consequences, then it would result in the improvement of court practices. This will give journalists the opportunity to become more liberal in the assessments of the activities of political figures. However, now judges cannot interpret the considered norms properly, since these norms are new for them. It is doubtful that the judges will ground their decisions concerning the conflicts with mass media on new law provisions. Advocates should exert many efforts for persuading the judges to act in the correspondence with new legal realities. Mykola Tomenko, the mouthpiece of these changes, stated that the adopted documents would not have the great effect. So, I believe that these amendments will not influence the situation with the freedom of speech very much. Nevertheless, advocates will have the opportunity to use these norms as arguments for the protection of mass media workers. Thus, we have now the “deferred-action weapon”, which will go off earlier or later, but not in the current political season. I do not think that the newly adopted laws will spur journalists to the freer elucidation and discussion of the political life in the country. The mass media need some other additional stimuli. Will the renewed legislative base influence the interrelations between the political forces? The “battles” between these forces are rather chaotic, and I believe that the situation will remain the same: both during the preparation to the election and the approval in the Parliament of the law on the constitutional reform, which, in the nearest future, is going to be the main reason of the confrontation between the parliamentary majority and the opposition. The role of the press also would not change, if no cataclysms would happen. Let us hope that they will not happen.

(«2000» — «Svoboda slova», No. 37, 12-18 September 2003)

***

Our legislators widened “the territory of truth” by the adoption of a number of laws on mass media, reckons Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech.

M. Tomenko told to a correspondent of “UM” about the work of MPs at the last session and about their “creative plans”:

“I reckon that we fulfilled the minimal program: prevented a great part of claims against mass media, widened the so-called “territory of truth”… The law on the struggle with censorship came into force. By now we have more than ten court resolutions grounded on this law. They concern the cases, where the claims were rejected at all, since these claims were handed by the organs of state power or local self-rule, and the cases, where the consideration was ceased because the affair concerned the evaluative judgments, for which journalists had the right”.

We plan to consider the drafts of two laws at the coming session: the law on TV broadcasting (it was adopted in the first reading) and the law on TV and radio broadcasting, which was supported by the committee, but has not been adopted in the first reading yet. The first law describes in details the procedure of giving licenses, which will liquidate many conflicts. The law envisages the precise mechanism of the adoption of decisions and turns the National Council to the collegiate organ. The law on TV and radio broadcasting stipulates the regulation of the relations between national TV companies, regional TV companies and the operators of cable TV. Today the discussion is conducted about the social (narrow) and commercial packages for the operators of cable TV. Our position is the following: the law should envisage everything concerning the narrow package. This package must obligatory include all national and regional TV channels. If some free space remains, then the operators have the right to add other channels: Russian, German or whatever they like. The commercial package may contain any TV channels, but the operators must pay for this…

The law on censorship gives journalists more freedom in the political context, and the law on advertising widens their economic potential. For a long time we debated on the question how to extend the economic potential of printed mass media. We believe that after the adoption of this law the financial injections to printed mass media and the support of Ukrainian TV and radio companies will become more active, and the attempts will be made to organize the retransmission of the foreign radio companies with their (paid!) advertising. This law will become a powerful incentive for the economic independence of mass media”.

At the same time, points out Mykola Tomenko, the norms are multiplying in the sphere of legislative novelty, which norms may in no way be regarded as progressive and democratic ones. For example, one of the articles of the newly adopted Civil Code reads that “any negative information spread about a person is regarded as inauthentic”, whereas the information “presented by a state official in the framework of his service duties… is regarded as authentic”. The quoted article is a real “gold-mine” for any unscrupulous official, since from now any nonsense, even an obvious lie, generated “in the framework of service duties” would be regarded as an absolute truth, which is beyond any doubt and may not be criticized. So, it turns out that the officials are always true, and common citizens must listen to them, trust them and even like them, because any “negative information” will transform the author of this information into a liar and slanderer.

“We proposed to introduce some changes to the Civil Code, since it has not come into force yet (this will happen only on 1 January 2004). In particular, we proposed to change this absurd Article 277 (about the negative information) and similar passages. I hope that the proper committee will consider our propositions before 1 January 2004. Unfortunately, we had not enough votes to prevent the adoption of another harmful law: on state secrets. According to this law, a USS officer has the right to come to a journalist without any warrant and to question him about the sources of information”.

Naturally, the Law “On introduction of changes into some legal acts of Ukraine”, which was adopted by the Supreme Rada on 9 July 2003, essentially extends the authorities of the Security Service and, correspondingly, narrows the right of citizens for the freedom of expression. Now the right of printed mass media to collect, store and spread information concerns only the “information with open access”. By the way, according to M. Tomenko’s words, “MPs plan to conduct the Day of government, on which the government will inform us about the use of the classifications restricting the access to information. Now three types of classifications are applied: “for service use only”, “not for publishing” and “secretly”. It appeared that the last category includes, for instance, the staff lists of President’s Administration, tax administration and customs service, that is the items, which, according to the operating laws, must be open”.

The above-mentioned law also gives the right to the USS to detain journalists for compiling the protocols in the case of violation by the mass media workers of the laws on state secrets, to conduct personal search of the detained and search of their private things. Besides, the legislators propose to fine citizens for storage, purchase and use of technical means for collecting the information. Such fine equals to 50-100 untaxed minimal wages for common citizens and 200-500 untaxed wages for state officials. So, soon an owner of a dictaphone should have to obtain a permit, as if he owned a gun or something like that. We are curious, should we interpret the creation of this law draft as too literal understanding of the metaphor “a word is a weapon” or our legislators are afraid of the followers of major Melnichenko?

“However, it is not the last surprise from the legislators and not the last mentioning of the security service in the Ukrainian laws. One more law has appeared: on the monitoring of telecommunications”, tells M. Tomenko. “It is not less dangerous, and our committee rejected it. This law, in fact, legalizes the right of the USS to wiretap anybody. I have the suspicion that they wiretap anybody even now, although, according to the operating laws, they may do that only after a court decision. If this law would be adopted, our security service would not need any court decisions. The committee unanimously rejected the presented version of the law on the monitoring of telecommunications”.

("Ukraina moloda", No. 171, 18 September 2003)

***

Andriy Shkil, an MP:

Unfortunately, one may not speak about any widening of “the territory of truth”, even if the Supreme Rada would adopt the maximal possible number of the laws concerning mass media, because the Supreme Rada has no authorities to control the fulfillment of these laws, especially if this fulfillment is shared between other branches of power. None of the laws can stop the murders of journalists, and none of the laws can stop the application of censorship. Certainly, the laws of direct action connected with the problems of the press are necessary, since they regulate the activities of mass media in the democratic state. Yet, to make these laws function effectively, such state must be created. The state, where the journalists will really be the fourth power. And there is no other way.

Much work must be done for the achievement of this goal. The legislators must elaborate the law on political advertising; this term, as well as all kinds of the concealed political advertising, must be defined distinctly. This will, undoubtedly, weaken the pressure on journalists, since there are two different things: the political advertising and forcing journalists to serve somebody’s interests against their will.

A great number of very important laws are still not adopted. At the same time, such drafts as the new Criminal-Procedural Code appear instead of the high-quality product. By the way, one of the tasks of this code is to control the actions of those people, who struggle against the arbitrariness of state authorities in Ukraine and must be protected with efficient laws. For example, journalists, who fulfill their work religiously, should be sure that their rights would be protected at any time and in any situation.

The problem is that there is no respect in our country either for journalists or for the laws regulating their activities. After all, the respect or disrespect for some people is a personal affair of an individual. Yet, respect for the laws may not called in question under any circumstances. And the law on struggle with censorship would not liquidate this phenomenon (it will continue to exist in the concealed forms) until the society would not free itself from the yoke of the totalitarian system. Only free society, where journalism occupies the due place, is able to liquidate censorship.

Besides, the laws are not developed yet, which regulate other questions: in particular, the personal protection of journalists and the protection of informational sphere.

("Ukraina moloda”, No. 171, 18 September 2003)

General problems

08.04.2004

The problem of liquidation of state mass media

   

The greater part of the “serf” editions (recently the journalist call so the communal and state mass media) categorically protest against the privatization: they want to continue to have the budget subsidies and the privileges concerning the subscription. Frequently such editions do not care about the readers’ demands: they mostly attend to the publication of reports or obscure references passed to them from higher instances. The “administrative resource” (that is some coersive measures) is often used to make people to subscribe to these editions. It is obvious that the civilized competition cannot exist under such conditions. Suffice it to say that private mass media pay taxes to the budget, from which their competitors are financed.

At the same time, the collectives of many great newspapers, which are patronized by the power structures, want to get free of this “care” and to work independently. If the competent state newspapers would obtain the independence and the freedom of speech, some of them would be able to become serious competitors for many private editions.

 («Delovaya Odessa», No. 19, 12 September 2003)

General problems

08.04.2004

The squad of “informational killers”

   

Andrey Karafka:

The squad of “informational killers” was created with the support of President Kuchma. This information was given by MP Mykola Tomenko, the head of the parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information.

M. Tomenko paid attention to the Internet-edition “Tyzhden”. The MP states that the edition publishes the ordered materials exceeding the limits of journalist ethics, which materials flay not only the opposition, but also pro-President politicians, who conflict with the SDPU (u).

Tomenko reckons that one may ignore this “trash dump” (the number of visitors of the site is very little), but it is indicated on the site that it was designed and developed by the structure “YPA Internet”. The matter is, Tomenko points out, that the official web site of the President of Ukraine was created by the same structure.

Besides, the head of the committee mentions the telecast of the First National channel, which is devoted to press roundup. “The peculiar feature of this telecast is that almost a half of messages refer not to, for instance, informational agency “Ukrinform” or some competent editions, but to the site “Tyzhden””, remarks M. Tomenko. According to his words, the analysis of the style of the materials published on the site “Tyzhden” allows to claim that the false letters of Viktor Yushchenko were also compiled by the “writers” of this site.

“This absolutely marginal site developed by the structure, which also made the official site of the President, becomes an official informational agency of the power”, summed up the MP.

(www.vv.com.ua , 25 September 2003)

General problems

08.04.2004

Round table “Corruption in mass media” (Odessa)

   

According to the data of the State statistical committee, the number of magazines and other periodicals in Ukraine has increased more than nine times since 1990, and the number of newspapers increased twice. Some of them are profitable, and others are used as the political arenas by their owners. Today the corruption contaminated almost all branches of economics. In this connection the Odessa national juridical academy and the Odessa informational center in charge of the problems of fighting the organized crime conducted, last week, the round table “Corruption in mass media”. The participants of the round table, journalists and specialists from the academy, debated on the situation on the mass media market. They also discussed the problem whether it was possible to find some compromise in the framework of the legal sphere. The following questions were discussed at the round table: mass media as a kind of business; shadow economy and money-laundering; financing of mass media and the problem of independent press; political PR and new technologies in mass media. All these topics were very interesting for both journalists and lawyers. That is quite comprehensive, since until now the phrase “corrupted journalist” has aroused either the bewilderment or distrust. Today, when the space in newspapers and time in TV air are sold to anybody, who can pay for it, nobody is surprised by the situation when a journalist deals with “black PR” or ordered articles, and this is not considered as corruption from the viewpoint of the legality of such activities. Some lawyers have the opposite opinion, so the round table had the aim to clarify the function of mass media, to determine the degree of influence of the “fourth power” on the society and the possibility to affect the corruption through mass media.

Viktor Driomin, the head of the department of criminology of the Odessa national juridical academy, pointed out in his opening speech that mass media were, in a certain sense, an element of the globalization of criminality, because “they inform the population about the acts of violence in the country, in particular: terrorism, murders, robberies, etc., thus forming the idea about the criminal situation, which not always coincides with real one”. The facts were adduced, when some Russian MPs were financially by criminal organizations. The situation in our country is similar. Viktor Driomin is sure that the connection of mass media with certain “clans” and groups is an element of corruption relations, and the legislative regulation of this problem is needed. On the one hand, the Ukrainian legislation provides many opportunities for the creative work of a journalist, guarantees his rights for the freedom of speech and creative activities (the Laws of Ukraine “On censorship”, “On information”, “On author’s right”, etc.). These normative acts were acknowledged by international organizations and confirmed by international legal documents. On the other side, it is very difficult today to put these rights into practice. Editors of newspapers and journalists complain that the interference of the power organs, officials and people’s deputies of different levels into the creative process becomes more and more noticeable, which, in their opinion, contradicts to the very concept of the freedom of the press. So, the modern journalism managed to get rid of the political bondage of the Soviet times. Yet, instead, the journalists got to the grip of economic crisis, and this financial pressure has become even stronger that the political one. Some journalists, who took part in the round table, recollected with regret about the “old good times”, when the editorial boards had to worry neither about paper, nor about the polygraphic base, nor about salaries, but obtained all this as a remuneration for their service to the communist power. At the same time, one must understand the difference between the totalitarian and the social-responsible models of journalism. Totalitarianism includes repressions and physical destruction of talented people disloyal to the state. Everybody knows about the scale and consequences of such repressions in the Soviet Union. On the background of these historical events the economic dependence of the press on their owners seems to be a problem of quite different level. The social-responsible journalism has begun to develop in Ukraine only recently, and it is senseless to revert to the authoritarian practices. The recession of the economic crisis stimulates the gradual appearance of solvent buyers, so increasing the number of newspapers and magazines. This will give the chance to mass media to reach the level of freedom that exists in the civilized countries. This opinion was expressed by Valeriy Ivanov, a doctor of philology and the manager of the Academy of the Ukrainian press. The majority of journalists present at the round table agreed with him. Almost all participants supported the idea that the wording “corruption among journalists” was extremely incorrect. The greatest part of the budget of mass media consists of the income from advertising. Yet, the Ukrainian advertising market is rather small: in 2002, for example, its volume was equal to 260 million USD. According to the assessment of experts, the lion’s share, about 100 million USD, is spent for TV advertising. The low profitableness of Ukrainian mass media resulted in their purchase by entrepreneurs, who made a profit in other spheres of business, first of all in the sphere of the export of oil and gas. Yet, the new owners did not consider the mass media as a source of profit. The Ukrainian mass media turned into the political projects, the tools for exerting pressure on public opinion. In that way mass media assisted the owners in their basic business. Some owners began, in order to increase their influence, to create the media groups, the so-called holdings. So, a common journalist, who works for the employer, cannot be a called “a corrupted journalist”, since he is forced to obey the orders of his boss. Such journalist receives his emolument for the work in a concrete media.

After the heated arguments and discussions the participants of the “round table”, both lawyers and journalists, agreed that “corruption in mass media” is a very relative concept, and that the media-market must develop on the basis of the following principles: transparency of work and the profitability at the expense of consumers, but not of sponsors. Besides, the public audit and the protection of the rights of hired workers must be practiced. These measures, jointly with the legislative regulation, would prevent the use of media in the interests of criminal and political structures, would stimulate the competition and turn the Ukrainian mass media into a transparent kind of business.

(«Delovaya Odessa», No. 21, 26 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Two journalists were attacked in Zaporozhye

   

Zaporozhye oblast youth public organization “Young Rukh”

This information was communicated by Anatoliy Eriomin, the prosecutor of the Khortitskiy district of Zaporozhye. According to the prosecutor’s words, on 3 September Sergiy Goncharenko, a journalist of the newspaper “Zaporizhska Sich”, was stabbed with knife in his stomach. “The victim tells that a stranger greeted him in the doorway of his house. The journalist answered the greeting. After this he felt the acute pain in his stomach and saw that he was wounded with the knife”. The journalist got to a hospital, where he underwent a surgical operation. Now his condition is of medium gravity. Eriomin informs that both the victim and editor of the newspaper “Zaporizhska Sich” Oleksandr Veriovkin reckon that the attack was caused by the preparation of the material about the repartition of the property in the sphere of trade and privatization. The criminal case was started after part 4 of Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “hooliganism with the application of cold steel”.

On 4 September 2003 Mykola Loy, the a deputy of the manager of the weekly “Dosye” in charge of the questions of sale, was beaten in the Khortitskiy district of Zaporozhye. “Three strangers attacked him in the yard of his house and delivered several blows in his face”, tells the prosecutor of the Khortitskiy district. The criminal case was started after part 2 of Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “hooliganism committed by a group of persons”.

It should be noted that both journalists lived in the same house. The second attack took place on the next day after the first one.

In both cases the hooligans did not took from the victims either money or other things.

The oblast organization of the National union of journalists turned to the prosecutor of the Zaporozhye oblast, the head of the militia directorate of the Zaporozhye oblast and mass media: “We have the grounds to believe that these crimes were connected with the professional activities of the victims. The oblast organization of the National union of journalists is turning to leaders of law-enforcing structures with the demand to investigate thoroughly the criminal cases started after the facts of the attacks on the workers of mass media, and to guarantee the safety of journalists”.

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

***

In the evening of 3 September a young man with a knife in his stomach was transported to the casualty ward of the 9th city hospital of Zaporozhye. This was Sergey Goncharenko, a free-lance correspondent of the municipal newspaper “Zaporizka Sich”.

Sergey believes that the reason of the attack was his journalistic activities, in particular, the publication of the article about the repartition of property in the trade sphere. Goncharenko tells that more than once some people phoned him, offered money and threatened him with physical violence. Aleksandr Veriovkin, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Zaporizka Sich”, adheres to the same opinion. He told that Goncharenko was preparing the materials about the illegal actions “concerning very great sums of money that may be connected with shadow economics”.

The attack on the journalist is investigated by a special group.

(«Fakty», No. 162, 6 September 2003)

***

On the next day after the attack on S. Goncharenko Mykola Loy, a worker of the newspaper “Dosye” in charge of sale of the edition, was attacked by strangers near his own flat. Many mass media informed that M. Loy was the acting manager of the newspaper, but this information was not true; moreover, he did not work in the edition since 5 September. Criminal cases after Article 296 were started in both cases: “hooliganism” with the use of cold steel in the first case, and “hooliganism” committed by a group in the second case.

As to the attack on Anatoliy Naumov, a journalist of “Dosye”, which was committed in July 2003, law-enforcers have now his explanation that he fell down and bruised himself.

(«Dosye», Zaporozhye, No. 38, 11 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

The fourth journalist was beaten in Donetsk

   

Nikolay Tuzhikov, a cameraman of the “First municipal” TV channel, got to the neurosurgery ward of Donetsk Kalinin hospital. Tuzhikov is the fourth worker of mass media, who has been attacked in Donetsk during the recent time. The victim is still unconscious. Nikolay’s sister asserts that this was not the first attack at him. The mother of the journalist suggests that the beating of her son is connected with his professional activities. The doctors consider the state of Tuzhikov’s health as grave.

The officers of the Leninskiy district militia precinct are conducting the preliminary investigation of the incident.

(«Populiarnye vedomosti», Pavlograd, No. 37, 11 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attacks on journalists in Donetsk: the opinion of militia

   

Three attacks on representatives of mass media in Donetsk are not connected with their professional activities, stated Oleksandr Ivashchuk, the acting head of the Donetsk city militia directorate, at a briefing.

“Kontekst” communicates that, according to Ivashchuk’s words, one man was arrested in the connection with the attack on Eduard Malinovskiy. The investigation of the crime is finished and the case is passed to court.

“As to two other incidents, the ODA for the detention of the suspected were realized simultaneously in two towns of the oblast. As a result, two dwellers of Artemovsk were detained, who had attacked Sergiy Kuzin. The term of detention of one of them was prolonged to 10 days, since there was the information about his connection with other crimes”, said Oleksandr Ivashchuk.

Oleksandr Kucheriavy, the head of the investigation department, informed that the attack had been committed by three persons, and the law-enforcers were searching for the third criminal.

According to Kucheriavy, material evidences were seized from the detained: the stool legs, with which the journalist had been beaten, charger and cover of the cell phone, which had been stolen from the victim (the criminals threw the phone away). The both detained gave evidence.

Besides, the investigation group arrested the suspected of the attack on Vasyl Vasiutin: a dweller of Avdeevka born in 1985. Yet, the journalist insists that he was attacked by two men. Now the law-enforcers are checking this fact. The cell phone taken from Vasiutin by the criminals was seized from the detained.

As we informed before, three journalists were attacked in Donetsk in August 2003: Eduard Malinovskiy, Sergiy Kuzin and Vasyl Vasiutin. Two investigation groups disclosed these crimes in a month. The investigation of the cases on the attacks on representatives of mass media was personally controlled by Vladimir Malyshev, the head of the militia directorate of the Donetsk oblast. The groups were rewarded for the successful investigation of these crimes.

(ForUm, 25 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Tragic event in the life of Vasyl Koriak (Lubny)

   

On 12 September Vasyl Koriak, the 51-year-old former mayor of Lubny (the Poltava oblast), who had survived several attempts at his life, wounded a man, who stole to his yard at night. V. Koriak made two warning shots from his rifle (for which he had the permission). The thief attacked Koriak and tried to stab him with a screwdriver. Then Koriak shot in the attacker’s legs, but the bullet hit the offender’s groin and he died of the loss of blood.

The law-enforcing organs established the identity of the burglar: this was a 29-year-old dweller of Lubny, who had a mental disease. The Lubny district prosecutor’s office started the criminal case. Vasyl Koriak stays at large yet.

(«Fakty», No. 169, 17 September 2003)

***

Ludmila Kucherenko, the President of the Poltava oblast media club:

On 12 September, at about 1 a.m., Vasyl Koriak, a Lubny correspondent of the all-Ukrainian newspaper “Informatsiyny bulleten”, the author of the famous serial “Tominiana” (about E. Tomin, the then head of the Poltava oblast administration), woke up and saw the light of a torch and that somebody had opened the window of his room. He also heard that somebody tried to open the window on another side of the house. When his eyes got accustomed to the darkness, he saw several figures in his yard, one of which slipped to the garage. V. Koriak, who in July underwent the attack, when some strangers fired at him with buckshot, had no illusions about the intentions of the night visitors. So, he loaded the rifle and prepared to protect his life and family. Koriak awoke his wife, dart out to the yard and ran into the garage. The moon shone brightly and he could see a big fellow, who was doing something near the car.

Vasyl Koriak is a former investigator, so he has some experience in detaining criminals. He ordered to the uninvited guest: “Freeze!”, but the “guest” rushed towards him. Vasyl fired to air and shouted “Freeze!” again. Yet, the criminal ignored the cry and continued to approach. Then Vasyl made another warning shot and after that shoot in the legs of the bandit. The latter fell down: he was wounded. “What is your name?”, asked Koriak. “Dakhnovskiy”, answered the man.

Vasyl returned to the house and called for ambulance and militia. The bullet, that hit the criminal passed through his hip and stuck in the car board. However, the medics, apparently, incorrectly estimated the seriousness of the wound and did not bandage it tightly, so Dakhnovskiy died from the loss of blood during the transportation to hospital.

Soon after that the ambulance had to come to Koriaks, because Vasyl, his wife and their 12-year-old son were deeply shocked.

In the morning a knife with 40-centimeter blade and a can with some fuel were find near the garage. Although the militiamen learned the name of the attacker from Vasyl Koriak as early as at 1 a.m., they reported to the general that they managed to establish the identity of the criminal only at 19 p.m. Besides, they announced by radio about an unidentified corpse found in the Kononivskiy forest.

Dakhnovskiy’s mother told that in the evening of 11 September two men had come to her son and proposed “to work as watchman at the summer cottages”. Dakhnovskiy agreed and went away with these men. By the way, 30-year-old Dakhnovskiy was rather tall: 184 cm, so he was much higher than Koriak. Besides, he had psychical disorders, so it is most possible that, if he would survive, he would not be punished strictly. Naturally, the prosecutor’s office of the Lubny district started the criminal case. For the present moment the law-enforcers do not deny the legal right of Koriak to protect himself, his family and his property with arms. And the wound in a hip had not to be fatal, if the medical aid was more qualified.

As well as in four previous cases, where Koriak was attacked with the use of firearms, he does not believe (and he had the grounds for this disbelief) that the criminals will be found and punished. In July 2003, after the night shooting with buck-shot, the criminal case was started after the article on hooliganism, but not on the attempted murder. The versions proposed by law-enforcers after the July attempt were nonsensical and scandalous: the militiamen alleged that the former mayor organized the attempt by himself in order to increase his rating, or that somebody merely tried to frighten him a little.

That time the night visitors tried to enter Koriak’s house. And, if his sleep were not so light, this story would result in the tragedy with more than one victim: the criminals had the can with gasoline and, most likely, they were going to set fire to the house with all its sleeping inhabitants. However, we are sure that, in spite of this can, the prosecutor’s office will see there only a banal attempt of robbing, but not the revenge for the professional activities of the journalist.

The former colleagues of V. Koriak (he worked as an investigating officer for 25 years) behaved very strangely. When they came to his house in the tragic night, they said that he had to escape, but not to shoot.

-- To escape? – cried Koriak. – I, man, father and husband, had to escape, when my wife and son faced danger?!

Perhaps, Dakhnovskiy’s mother would be able to recognize the men, with whom her son went away. Yet, basing on the experience, we think that the law-enforcers will do nothing to find the organizers and executors of the hunt for journalist and public figure Vasyl Koriak. On the contrary, the unprofessional, to put it mildly, actions are carried out: for instance, the militiamen asked one of the suspected directly whether it was he, who had shot at Koriak.

It is even unknown whether two accomplices of Dakhnovskiy are still alive, since they might know the organizer of the crime and were the unwanted witnesses.

V. Koriak connects the attempt with the fact that he openly criticizes in his articles the vices and criminal essence of the modern regime. So, on 10 August, at the mass meeting in Lubny, he told publicly that the Lubny militia practically did not react to the crimes committed against common Ukrainians, that militia was one of the links of the narcotic business. And this business is connected with great money, for which some people will commit any crime, even a murder. V. Koriak suggests that he was visited by the same men, who had come to him in July. Maybe, he believes, the organizers ordered them to finish the work.

Lubny dwellers reckon that militia is unable to protect them from criminals, so everybody must defend his life and property with weapons, like Koriak.

V. Koriak’s colleagues, independent journalists, are also sure that our society is completely corrupted and demoralized, and all state institutions are so weak morally and professionally that one cannot hope for clearance of crimes against journalists, protection of journalists envisaged by laws and superiority of right at consideration of the claims against mass media and journalists. It seems that justice, as a social-ethical category, died in Ukraine. In spite of the slashing assessment of the work of law-enforcing organs, given by the Ukrainian President in his speech devoted to the 12th anniversary of independent Ukraine, almost nothing has changed in this agency.

There is only one positive moment: maybe, after the story with Koriak, the number of the people, who are ready to fulfill the orders of the enemies of disagreeable journalists, will decrease, and the journalists will use their legal right to arm.

P.S. Ruslan Bilokin, the Lubny district prosecutor, has informed that the criminal case was started after Article 115 part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (premeditated murder).

(«The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 47, 16 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Attack on Igor Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dankor” (Sumy)

   

A correspondent of FurUm informs that in the night of 24 September Igor Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dankor”, was attacked in Sumy. Social-business weekly “Dankor” is one of the most influential editions in Sumy.

About midnight two strangers pounced upon Danilenko in the doorway of his house. One of the attackers blocked the editor, and another sprinkled his face from a spray can with some oily liquid smelling with kerosene. After that the attackers escaped. Danilenko called to militia at once. The officers of the Zarechy district precinct compiled the protocol about the incident.

By the words of Igor Danilenko, the attackers were absolutely silent and made no attempts to rob him, although he had a briefcase in his hand. The editor is sure that the attack was not accidental. He insists that, one day before it, on 23 September, about 2 a.m., one of the attackers was waiting for him near the house. Yet, that time he avoided the assault, because he came home by taxi, and the criminal did not want to attack him in presence of witnesses.

(24 September 2003, www.for-ua.com , www.dancor.sumy.ua )

***

Officers of the Zarechny militia precinct started the investigation of the attack on Igor Danilenko. Fortunately, the face and eyes of journalists were not injured seriously.

The editor-in-chief connects the attack with his professional activities, since recently “Dankor” has published a series of critical articles, which could be disliked by the personages of these materials.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 177, 26 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Svatoslav Piskun refused to call the names of the suspects of the murder of Igor Aleksandrov

   

In the beginning of this week General Prosecutor Svatoslav Piskun declared that the investigation of the murder of Igor Aleksandrov, the manager of the Slaviansk TV company “TOR”, was almost completed. The General Prosecutor refused to call the names of the suspects of the murder, but said that they were staying in the preliminary prison and testifying in presence of advocates. Several days ago the press service of the Security Service of Ukraine published the information in some mass media that Aleksandrov had been murdered by the members of Kramatorsk gang “The 17th district”. In the course of the special operation the investigation group arrested ten members (including the leaders) of this gang.

It is rumored that the organizers and executors of the murder of Aleksandrov were also detained. Now the ODA are continued in order to check the connection of the detained with other ordered murders and to bring them to criminal responsibility. Svatoslav Piskun expressed his gratitude to the former militia officers, members of the investigation group, MPs from the Supreme Rada Committee for fighting the organized crime and other persons, who assisted in the investigation and clearance of the crime.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 177, 26 September 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists

08.04.2004

Roksana Gedeon. Chain reaction

   

The unexpected event happened: the General Prosecutor’s office declared that the murder of TV journalist Igor Aleksandrov was solved. On the past Tuesday Svatoslav Piskun informed that the direct executors of the crime had been detained and were giving evidence in presence of advocates, and the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv resolved to leave them behind the bars till the beginning of court consideration.

The author of this article knows from the trustworthy sources that Aleksandr Rybak, an ex-businessman from Slaviansk and the former head of the firm “Ukrliga”, was arrested. The inhabitants of the Northern Donbass not unfoundedly believe that it was Rybak, who ordered the murder of I. Aleksandrov.

The law-enforcers dealt with Rybak for two years. He was detained in Kyiv on 8 August. According to some data, he had been in hiding for a long time. For two years the law-enforcers hunted him, but in a very strange way: they detained Rybak, and, after some negotiations (most probably about the sum of ransom), released him.

For instance, in summer 2001, soon after the death of I. Aleksandrov, the group of Kyiv law-enforcers came to the Donetsk oblast and tried to detain the manager of “Ukrliga”. Yet, Rybak arrived to the interrogation under escort of the USS special squad “Alfa” (some time later Yuri Vandin, a deputy head of the squad, recognized that in the press accompanying his statement with some incoherent explanations).

It became clear that Rybak had the protectors not only in Donbass, but also in Kyiv. In particular, according to the data of deputies’ commission, which investigated the murder of Aleksandrov, the essential part of his business was patronized by the Security Service.

So, Rybak was released. And on the next day the law-enforcers announced that he was wanted again!

For the second time he was caught in November 2001 in Kramatorsk. The official version was that he was wanted not for the murder of the journalist, but for some financial gerrymander. This sham version was supported by Sergiy Vinokurov, a deputy of the General Prosecutor (now – the first deputy of S. Piskun). In his interview to “Interfax” this “upholder of legality” hotly protected Rybak from the suspicions and insisted that the latter “had no connection with the murder of Aleksandrov”. So, how Mr. Vinokurov may pretend to the high post, epaulets and great salary paid at the expense of tax payers?

The version of Vinokurov is disproved by the fact that the detention of Rybak was directed by Chechil, a deputy head of the Main Criminal Investigation Department. However, the gangster gave the written undertaking not to leave a place and was released in the accordance with the decision of Slaviansk town court. It is rumored that this time Rybak had to pay 30 thousand USD.

The business of “Ukrliga” was destroyed. During last two years Rybak became poor. The political situation changed too. Svatoslav Piskun, who appeared to be unable to solve the murder of Gongadze, decided that he had to solve at least Aleksandrov’s murder that seemed to be simpler (it did not infringe the interests of Leonid Kuchma and other top officials). So, the prosecutor dared to disturb “the Donetsk hornet’s nest”. Along with Rybak two other citizens were arrested, who were the direct executors of the murder. The law-enforcers were looking for these people throughout Ukraine. It is not comprehensible why the criminals did not escape, since they had two years to do that. Maybe, they were sure of their impunity or had no money. In any case, their detention is a great success.

Now Dmytro Rybak, a younger brother of Aleksandr, is wanted by militia.

However, it were not only wealth and relations with influential persons that made A. Rybak immune to justice. According to the data collected by Oleg Solodun and Mykhaylo Serbin, the former officers of the Kramatorsk DFOC who provided the information for Aleksandrov’s TV features, prudent Rybak created something like a video studio in his office. The office was situated in the downtown of Slaviansk, near the buildings of prosecutor’s and mayor’s offices. Cavalcades of expensive cars came to his office. Many influential people: prosecutor’s, state officials, USS officers and militiamen, came to the den of mafia to discuss their problems. Rybak helped to many of them to make the career. And, naturally, he made the video records of some meetings in his office…

Moreover, Rybak had a very scrupulous secretary. She made notes about everyone, who came or phoned to the office, in a special register. Unfortunately, this priceless material evidence vanished in militia storerooms after the murder of Aleksandrov. Yet, Solodun and Serbin managed to get the copy of the register. I saw the copies of several pages, and I can say that many personages would pay much for the disappearance of their names from this list!

The register proves that militiamen, USS officers, prosecutors (including the prosecutor for supervision over the law observance!) and MPs visited Rybak in order to inform him about their law-enforcing and other important activities. It is not strange: “Ukrliga” operated with great sums. Yet, another thing is strange: why these officers were not disturbed by the investigation for two years?

Rybakov’s register evidence, in particular of a very ominous detail: on the days, when Aleksandrov’s feature was broadcasted, real conferences of law-enforcers and state officials gathered in Rybak’s office. Maybe, they liked to look TV together?

The list of the surnames mentioned in the registed allows to imagine the scale of the risk, which Aleksandrov ran, when he gave the floor to Solodun and Serbin. In fact, he saved their lives at the cost of his own life.

The ex-militiamen were loyal to the memory of their friend. During two years after his death they continued the active work. The main reason of the progress of the investigation was the fact that Solodun and Serbin were, at last, included to the investigation group. The version of the murder suggested by the former militiamen has become official now. Most probably, the accusation has been already preferred against Rybak.

However, there are many other questions. For instance, what will be the lot of the accomplices of Rybak: the Donetsk law-enforcers, who planned and committed the ordered murders?

Besides, the circle of the people involved to “Aleksandrov’s case” include not only those persons, who are mentioned in Rybak’s register. After all, the investigation of this crime was crudely falsified. The behavior of some officials was very suspicious. Viktor Pshonka, the Donetsk oblast prosecutor, investigating officer Perunov, many Kramatorsk militiamen did their best to find a tramp, who had allegedly murdered the journalist, and prosecutors Sergiy Vinokurov and Mykhaylo Potebenko actively supported this fabricated version. The leaders of this “plot” of law-enforcers occupy the high posts in the oblast militia, USS and prosecutor’s office.

I heard that the Kyiv investigation group that detained A. Rybak and the executors of the murder works actively and coherently. The investigators are full of enthusiasm. They promise: “Wait a little. Soon we will send a train to the Donetsk oblast and detain everybody connected with this case”.

At the same time, it is rumored that some MPs, who are afraid that Rybak’s arrest will affect them, are collecting the enormous bribe for his release. It is unlikely that they will succeed, but the attempt to give this bribe is quite probable.

The serious struggle is conducted now. And the time will show, who will win the field.

(«Silski visti”, No. 112, 25 September 2003)

Restrictions of the access to information

08.04.2004

Official correspondence with militia

   

Tatiana Kolisnychenko, Khmelnitskiy:

The official correspondence seems to be a tedious affair. Yet, our correspondence was very interesting. Since it is extremely difficult to obtain any information from some state organizations and agencies, our newspaper decided to resort to the epistolary method.

However, the officials did not want to give us the information, although they had to do that within a month. Some answers filled us with indignation. For instance, we put an innocent question to the oblast directorate of interior. The matter is that the tenth session of the Khmelnitskiy oblast council permitted this directorate to reconstruct the building, where the special squad “Berkut” was located, and to make there the flats for militiamen. We wanted to learn how much this reconstruction would cost, who would get the flats in the building, how many militiamen were waiting for flats and to where “Berkut” would be moved. We hoped that the state structure, which is financed from budget (that is at the expense of taxpayers), would not conceal this information. Yet, our hopes were not justified.

Either the militia directorate decided to brush aside our “journalistic games”, or this agency is not interested in the transparency of its activities, but we got the following answer: “The building of apartment houses (what houses they meant?) and their reconstruction by the directorate of interior is carried out in compliance with the operating laws…” And that is all. Well, the answer is rather indistinct.

Yet, everything is correct from juridical viewpoint. The militia authorities dispatched this letter within the term stipulated by law, a month after our request. Everything is correct, but it looks that we were crudely swindled.

We have the right to appeal against this response to a higher instance, and later -- to a court. And we will use this right. Maybe then the directorate will let us into its secrets?

 (Social-political weekly “E!”, No. 27, 2003;
“Prava ludyny” (Ukrainian version), No. 25, 1-15 September 2003)

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

The Supreme Rada of Ukraine vs. the National TV company

   

The confrontation of the Supreme Rada and the National TV company of Ukraine (NTVC), connected with the transmission of the sessions of the Parliament, lasts. The National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting is going to apply the strict sanctions and to fine the NTVC  (1.15 million hryvnas) for non-fulfillment of the state order on the direct broadcasting of the sessions of the Supreme Rada.

Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, explained that, on the basis of the decision of the National Council on TV and radio broadcasting, the founders of the NTVC, the Supreme Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers, had the right to fine the TV channel for the sum of the non-fulfilled order.

(«Fakty», No. 163, 9 September 2003)

Meddling into professional activities of journalists and mass media

08.04.2004

“Lvivska gazeta” vs. Sergiy Medvedchuk

   

The Lviv tax inspection got into the focus of the attention of local press again. The numerous chicaneries of the tax administration at “Lvivska gazeta” drove the journalists to despair and, on the eve of the first anniversary of the creation of the newspaper, they decided to bring the claim to court against the tax service. It is known in Lviv that Markiyan Ivashchikhin and Yaroslav Rushchishin, two local businessmen close to the bloc “Our Ukraine”, are the investors of the “improper newspaper”. On 8 September the lawyers of the company “Lvivska gazeta” handed the claim against Sergiy Medvedchuk, the head of the Lviv tax administration, who, in the opinion of the newspaper, had spread at one of his press conferences the inauthentic information about the activities of the newspaper. The weekly asks the court to forbid Medvedchuk to spread the false information.

“The Lviv tax administration tried to levy the fine from the newspaper, and the sum was sufficient for the institution of a criminal case. 23 thousand hryvnas were imposed on us because of the erroneous decisions of tax inspectors. In particular, we had to pay 17 thousand for the use of the Internet and phone by the newspaper allegedly for non-service purposes. Yet, journalists cannot work without these modern communication means”, says Yuri Nazaruk, the manager of the edition.

In the opinion of Oleg Onisko, the editor of the weekly, the methods applied by the tax administration evidence on the goals different from a usual check of documents. The quibbles of the tax inspectors, he believes, have the political grounds, since they resemble, most of all, “the total pressure on the newspaper”.

(«Ukraina moloda», No. 167, 12 September 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Pikhovshek apologized to MPs

   

Viacheslav Pikhovshek, the presenter of the TV feature “Epitsentr” apologized to MPs V. Onopenko and M. Pavlovskiy for the distribution of false information about them. In November 2002 V. Pikhovshek informed the viewers of the TV channel “1+1” about the bribes equal to 500 thousand hryvnas, which were allegedly proposed for the support of V. Onopenko, a candidature to the post of the chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

 («Vecherniy Kharkov», No. 97, 9 September 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Dnepropetrovsk oblast organization of the Rukh will have legal proceedings with the local edition “Populiarnaya gazeta LUXE"

   

The Rukh made this information public in the official statement for mass media. In particular, it is pointed out in the statement that the issue of “Populiarnaya gazeta LUXE" of 3 September 2003 contained another open libel upon the People’s Rukh and the oblast representation of the bloc “Our Ukraine”. The Rukh members believe that the newspaper gave the false information that “Sichenko, the head of the oblast branch of the Rukh, did not dare to declare publicly about the creation of the oblast organization of the bloc “Our Ukraine””. On the contrary, the party members point out that on 24 August, at the meeting near T. Shevchenko’s monument, Viktor Sichenko declared about the creation of the oblast bloc.

Besides, the statement for mass media reads that recently the local mass media has spread the inauthentic information connected with the creation of the branch of the bloc “Our Ukraine” in the Dnepropetrovsk oblast. These publications, in the opinion of the Rukh, were organized by Andrey Denisenko, the leader of the local organization of the PRP, and Ivan Shulik, the head of the local branch of the Ukraine Nationalistic Party, with the aim to provoke the dissent in the bloc.

We want to remind that in August 2003 two oblast organizations of “Our Ukraine” were created almost simultaneously: one – by Ivan Shulik, and another – by Viktor Sichenko. So, in spite of the declarations of the both leaders of the oblast organizations, the conflict between them is going on.

(“Politichna Ukraina”, 3 September 2003)Viacheslav Pikhovshek, the presenter of the TV feature “Epitsentr” apologized to MPs V. Onopenko and M. Pavlovskiy for the distribution of false information about them. In November 2002 V. Pikhovshek informed the viewers of the TV channel “1+1” about the bribes equal to 500 thousand hryvnas, which were allegedly proposed for the support of V. Onopenko, a candidature to the post of the chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

 («Vecherniy Kharkov», No. 97, 9 September 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Dnepropetrovsk law-enforcers against mass media

   

The claims “on the protection of honor and dignity” handed by law-enforcers against journalists are not rare in Dnepropetrovsk. Now, for example, the head of the oblast DFOC has the legal proceedings with a correspondent of one of all-Ukrainian weeklies.

(«Komsomolskaya Pravda v Ukraine», No. 174, 20 September 2003)

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

08.04.2004

Viktor Medvedchuk vs. Dmytro Chobit

   

On 29 September the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv continued the consideration of the civil case “Viktor Medvedchuk vs. Dmytro Chobit”. This court process lasts since October 2002, but only recently judge Fadeeva has begun to consider the case, so to speak, in essence: earlier all the time was wasted for various procedural moments.

Now the court analyzes the past of Medvedchuk’s father. In the book “Nartsyss” Chobit told in details about the cooperation of Medvedchuk-senior with German occupants and confirmed his story with archive documents.

The head of President’s chancellery did not agree with these statements, as well as with other 90% of the information expounded in the documentary book by Chobit. The claim of Medvedchuk consists of several tens of pages. The plaintiff denies even those statements, which cannot be denied: some generally known facts of his biography, the official data about his property and the evaluative judgments, which may not be the object of a claim.

Taking into account the fact that Dmytro Chobit confirms his every word with tens of documentary arguments, the trial can last for indefinite time. Besides, recently the process has turned to the opposite direction, since in summer the author of “Nartsyss” brought the counter-claim against the head of the SDPU (u). According to the norms of the Criminal-Procedural Code, the claim was addressed to the Pecherskiy district court. The counter-claim was caused by the numerous procedural tricks applied by V. Medvedchuk. D. Chobit defines these tricks as “juridical cheating” and “the attempt to get one million hryvnas in a fraudulent way” (this is the sum of the compensation demanded by Medvedchuk from the author and editor of the book).

“Silski visti” more than once wrote that the head of the SDPU (u) made a brutal error in the addresses of the defendants. One of the defendants, according to the claim, is the non-existing publishing house “Kyiv-Brody: “Prosvita””, which is allegedly situated by the address: 8 Muzeyny bystreet, Kyiv. Really, this building is occupied by the Society of Ukrainian language “Prosvita” headed by MP Pavel Movchan. Yet, this society has no connection with the publishing house “Prosvita”, which published the book “Nartsyss”. This publishing house works in the town of Brody, the Lviv oblast.

The fact that one of the defendants was situated by this address gave Medvedchuk the right to hand the claim to the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv (where he could figure on the positive result), although both Chobit and his editor lived in Brody. Thus, in fact, the principle of territoriality was violated.

As early as at the first court sitting Mr. Chobit drew the attention to this procedural mistake. Yet, Medvedchuk, as well as judge Fadeeva, ignored any arguments adduced by the defendants. They even neglected the official reference from the unique state register reading that the organization “Kyiv-Brody: “Prosvita”” did not exist.

Dmytro Chobit quitted the attempts to prove the obvious things and turned to court. He valued his moral sufferings and court drudgery at 3 billion 682 million hryvnas (about 700 million USD) and demanded these money from Medvedchuk.

Viktor Medvedchuk, in his claim against Chobit, demanded to prohibit the distribution of “Nartsyss”. Chobit, in his turn, demands to sequestrate all Medvedchuk’s property, movable and immovable, of Medvedchuk, including the property situated abroad (in particular, his luxurious apartment in Cyprus). Dmytro Chobit is going to pass the obtained sum to the state budget of Ukraine.

The behavior of judge Fadeeva in this situation was very strange. When the judge obtained the claim by Chobit, she issued the fantastically illogical decision: she recommended Dmytro Chobit to address his claim to the Shevchenkivskiy district court of Kyiv. She explained this recommendation by the fact that Viktor Medvedchuk was residing in this district.

So, the judge, who had been already considering the case with the brutal violation of the territorial principle, tried to violate the Criminal-Procedural Code for the second time, since a counter-claim must be handed to the same court as the primary claim.

D. Chobit appealed against the actions of judge Fadeeva to the Appeal court of Kyiv. He was lucky: the judges of the Appeal Court regarded his arguments as essential and obliged Fadeeva to accept the claim.

(«Silski visti», 30 September 2003)

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

08.04.2004

The Supreme Court satisfied the cassation of Yulia Timoshenko connected with her suit against the National TV company and the feature “Kazna derzhavy”

   

Yulia Timoshenko turned to the Shevchenkivskiy district court of Kyiv with the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and on the compensation of moral damage equivalent to 5 million hryvnas. She brought the claim against the National TV company and the feature “Kazna derzhavy”. Ms. Timoshenko also demanded to refute the inauthentic information about her, which was made public by the TV channel “YT-1”.

According to the decisions of the Shevchenkivskiy district court and the appeal court of Kyiv, the claim was not satisfied.

On 18 September the Supreme Court of Ukraine acknowledged that these decisions were illegal and had been issued with the violations of the norms of material and procedural laws of Ukraine. The decisions were cancelled, and the case was sent for another consideration.

The party “Batkivshchina” informs that, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the National TV company and the feature “Kazna derzhavy” “will have to appear in court, to answer for the distribution of false information about Yu. Timoshenko and to recompense her the moral damage”.

“Batkivshchina” calls the feature “Kazna derzhavy” an official mouthpiece of the tax administration of Ukraine and “a tool for the informational war against the opposition”.

(“Ukrainska Pravda”, 22 September 2003)

Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases

08.04.2004

Criminal case of Yaroslav Tkachivskiy

   

The Institute of mass information got the response from G. Baydashchuk, the acting head of the department of internal safety of the militia directorate of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. The IMI request concerned the ODA connected with the case of Yaroslav Tkachivskiy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Tyzhnevik Galytchiny”.

Mr. Baydashchuk informs that “now the law-enforcing organs of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast conduct no ODA connected with the case of citizen Tkachivskiy”.

Besides, the response reads that the Ivano-Frankivsk town militia precinct sent the requests to the Tysmenitsa district court about Tkachivskiy’s criminal case in order to obtain the information for the introduction of proper changes into the statistical data.

We want to remind that the IMI got the information that Yaroslav Tkachivskiy, the representative of the Institute in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, was shadowed by law-enforcing organs. On 29 July the Institute directed the informational request to the militia directorate of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.

In May-July 2003 the Ivano-Frankivsk town militia directorate, referring to the Laws of Ukraine “On the ODA” and “On militia”, sent the requests to the Tysmenitsa district court about the consideration of the criminal case of Tkachivskiy. This is confirmed by letters No. 2117 of 5 May 2003 and No. 3673 of 17 July 2003, which are contained in the case materials.

The IMI puts the following questions in its request: do the law-enforcing organs of the Ivano-Frankivsk conduct the ODA concerning Yaroslav Tkachivskiy; with which purpose and on the basis of which normative acts the town militia directorate needs the information about the consideration of the mentioned criminal case?

The chronology of the investigation of the criminal case of Yaroslav Tkachivskiy:

14 February 2002. The court of Ivano-Frankivsk took the decision about the additional investigation of the criminal case against Tkachivskiy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Tyzhnevik Galytchiny”. The criminal case against him had been instituted on 7 November 2000. The editor was accused of the misuse of power, larceny on an especially grand scale, dodging from taxes. The Ivano-Frankivsk prosecutor’s office appealed against the decision on the additional investigation. On 29 April the appeal court of Ivano-Frankivsk accepted the appeal, thus continuing the consideration of the case. On 14 June 2002 the case was considered by the Tysmenitsa district court. The next court sitting was carried out on 26 June. On 16 August 2002, during a court sitting, Ya. Tkachivskiy and his advocate Valeriy Kornilov lodged the petition about the audio and video recording of the trial. On 1 September 2001 new Criminal Code of Ukraine came into force. In spite of that the organ of the pre-trial investigation did not bring the accusations in correspondence with the new Code, in particular Article 148-2 part 2 (the Code of 1960) was not removed from the accusation materials, thus violating Article 5 of the Criminal Code (of 2001), which abolishes the criminality of the action.

“Tyzhnevik Galytchiny” is an independent oblast weekly that was registered on 30 December 1993. The weekly was founded by the editorial board of the newspaper “Galytchina”. On 11 January 1996 the editorial boards of “Tyzhnevik Galytchiny” and “Galytchina” concluded a treaty about cooperation. According to the order of the editor of “Galytchina” of 12 October 2000, the newspaper “Tyzhnevik Galytchiny” was liquidated. The collective of the weekly tries now to appeal against this decision.

On 30 July 2002 the European Court of human rights registered the claim about the liquidation of the weekly handed by Yaroslav Tkachivskiy.

(The Institute of mass information, 23 August 2003)

0pinions

08.04.2004

Association of mass media workers. The appeal on the violation of the norms of diplomatic etiquette by the US Ambassador in Ukraine, spreading of dirty insinuations and fanning of anti-American moods

   

We have accustomed already that some representatives of diplomatic corps of Western countries are not ashamed of the double standards in the assessment of similar phenomena, which are regarded as progress in their countries and as crime in our country! Yet, some statements of US Ambassador John Herbst at his first press conference conducted on 18 September in Kyiv not only surpassed the bounds of usual cynical and insolent accusations, but also exceeded the generally accepted limits of human, not to mention the diplomatic, norms.

John Herbst repeated the statements of his predecessor about the “temniks”, which, by the way, had been inspired by the latter. However, he told nothing about the bombardments of civil buildings of TV and radio stations in Iraq and Yugoslavia, as well as about the recent introduction of total censorship for American and foreign journalists in the USA and in the zone of military conflict in Iraq, about the regular beatings of correspondents, about the groundless murder by Americans of the Ukrainian and Spanish journalists in Beirut and about the cynical refusal to conduct at least formal investigation of this crime…

The newly appointed “messiah” with the USA diplomatic passport demonstrated his contempt for the fundamental democratic principles and to our people; he demagogically appealed to struggle for the freedom of speech and human rights everywhere except his native country.

The Association of mass media workers of Ukraine officially turns to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine with the demand to lodge the protest against the violation of diplomatic norms by Ambassador John Herbst and to reject his credentials, since the Ambassador fans the anti-American moods in Ukraine with his ambiguous and provocative statements.

For the umpteenth time we, Ukrainian journalists, appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protect the national interests, rights and dignity of Ukrainian citizens. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs must immediately confirm the demand of the government about the unbiased investigation by Washington of the murder of Ukrainian citizen Taras Protsiuk, a cameraman of the agency “Reuter”.

We appeal to all Ukrainian patriots, independently of their political views, to take part in the protest actions in front of the USA Embassy. We will protest against boorish and insolent behavior of some American diplomats on the territory of our sovereign state, the diplomats, who try to sow the seeds of discord between our peoples and to impede the rapprochement of Ukraine and the USA.

(«Dosye», No. 41, 2 October 2003)

0pinions

08.04.2004

Kost Bondarenko: Why the freedom of speech is permanently violated in Ukraine?

   

Kost Bondarenko, a political scientist, candidate of historical sciences, Kyiv

Why the words “freedom of speech” is an oxymoron in Ukraine? Why our journalists cannot fulfill the main task of social democracy: liberation of labor from the yoke of capital?

These numerous why’s make me to think that there is no freedom inside us. And there is no need for freedom. The freedom as the realized necessity. There is no fear of the Word (which is the God, according to the Gospel), and there is no respect for the People of the Word. Our society does not understand that journalists are the ministers of the Religion of the Word. And the journalists also do not realize their function.

It is most easy to reduce everything to the moral-ethical norms, to put several rhetorical questions and to lead the readers into the casuistic labyrinth. Yet, I will try to discourse on more material problems.

Several years ago, when the journalists of Lviv “Express” conducted the action for the protection of the freedom of speech, they had a reliable and efficient ally – Aleksandr Zinchenko. In fact, the man from the pro-power camp defended the newspaper against the arbitrary actions of the power. Yet, the situation is different now.

The society is polarized now, and the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta”, which reflects the opinions of the opposition, can hope only for the support by the representatives of opposition. I should be happy to hear some kindly words about this newspaper from the MPs from the Lviv oblast, for example, the members of the SDPU (u). No, I do not want them to denounce Medvedchuk-junior, but they may express their attitude to the freedom of speech, to support the journalists morally. That would be a politically correct and humane act.

I also want to listen to the position of representatives of the pro-presidential political parties, and I will have respect to any position. If a representative of the Party of Regions would say: “They deserved that! “Lvivska gazeta” is a mob of fools, untalented people and tax dodgers!”, I would esteem him for straightforwardness and boldness. Yet, I do not see any people, who have their own opinion. It seems that the conflict between the newspaper and the State Tax administration does not exist at all. However, let us recollect how many parties promised in their election programs to protect the freedom of speech!

I like the standpoint of Viktor Medvedchuk, who actively asserts his views, although his views contradict to mine.

I want to clear up the attitude of the official power to this conflict, since I believe that the power must control any conflicts between the tax administration and the press. How many commissions were created for the investigation of the situation? What was done for informing the President and the Cabinet of Ministers about this case?

I also want to know what was the reaction of representatives of “Lviv diaspora” in Kyiv to the events around “Lvivska gazeta”? Where are their protests? Where are their concrete actions? I will not mention the concrete names, but I want to say that my personal appeals to several Lviv representatives were futile. My interlocutors nodded and turned to other topics.

I am guilty too, because I could not persuade some political figures of the top level to support the newspaper. By the way, one of the arguments adduced by me during the talks with these politicians was the following: on 3 December 2002, at the Parliamentary hearings on the questions of the freedom of speech, vice-Prime-Minister Dmytro Tabachnik proposed to prohibit (for the term of one year) the checks of mass media by fiscal organs.

Did somebody cancel this initiative? Does the mechanism exist for the control over the fulfillment of the initiatives of the government? Maybe, tax administration has the right to ignore the propositions of the government? Or D. Tabachnik was joking? Well, somebody must be responsible: either the vice-Prime-Minister for his words, or Lviv tax administration for their actions.

However, the politicians ignored my arguments too...

The freedom of speech is not only the right to publish one’s opinions or the right to swear at the President and power. The freedom of speech is also the right, even the duty, to have own position. The position, which concerns not only the conflict between the tax administration and the newspaper, but the position concerning the life as a whole. The situation in our society confirms that the freedom of speech is absent in Ukraine.

Let us stop to look for a censor! The censor stays inside us, and we must destroy this internal censor. Then, and only then, we would have the right to respect ourselves. It is very simple to overcome the fear and to say: “I agree” or “I do not agree”.

If we want to become real Ukrainians, we must do that. We must get rid of our fear, envy, irresponsibility, hypertrophied egotism, peacockery and greediness. We must understand that living in the country called Ukraine is not enough for being real Ukrainians. We must learn to have our own position and to uphold this position, independently of political views, race or religion.

The situation around “Lvivska gazeta” became an evidence of absolute passivity of our people.

(“Lvivska gazeta”, 22 September 2003)

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004

“Reporters without frontiers”

   

Ukraine occupied the 112th place out of 139 in the rating of the international human rights protecting organization “Reporters without frontiers”. This list was compiled on the basis of the poll conducted among journalists, researchers and experts. The respondents answered 50 questions concerning various violations of the freedom of the press in their countries.

(«Segodnia», No. 205, 12 September 2003)

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004 | Evhen Zakharov, the Kharkov group for human rights protection

The Kharkov group for human rights protection. Conference “The freedom of speech and human rights in Ukraine - 2003”

   

On 18-19 September the conference “The freedom of speech and human rights in Ukraine - 2003” was held in the institute of the post-graduate study of the Kyiv National University. The conference was organized by the USA Embassy in Ukraine and the Kharkov group for human rights protection with the goal to represent the state of human rights in Ukraine in the first seven months of 2003 and the situation with some most fundamental rights and freedoms: the freedom of expression, the right for the access to information, the right for privacy, the freedom from torture and cruel treatment, as well as the right for the access to justice. Besides, the conference had to demonstrate the intermediate results of the work of 42 organizations – the winners of the competition “Human rights and the freedom of the press” conducted by the Embassy.

The conference consisted of six sessions: the first plenary sitting was devoted to the general assessment of the state of human rights in Ukraine, next five sessions – to the consideration of the problems in the above-listed spheres of human rights. The organizers planned to represent different points of view: of the power, civil society, international experts, so they invited the representatives of all these groups to deliver the 20-minute reports. Yet, we could not listen to the assessment of the power organs: neither vice-speaker Oleksandr Zinchenko nor vice-prime-minister Dmytro Tabachnik, who had agreed to take part in the conference, came there. Valentina Dovzhenko, the head of the state committee in charge of the problems of youth, who had promised to the organizers to take part in the conference, refused in the last moment and sent first deputy Zelinskiy instead of her, who spoke only about the work of his committee. Thus, at the first session the participants of the conference (all in all, more than 200 representatives of Ukrainian state and non-governmental institutions and international organizations took part in the conference) listened to the speeches of USA Ambassador John Herbst, international expert Oleksiy Korotayev (Geneva, the International Ligue of human rights), Ashley Gotier, a deputy of the general councilor of the U.S. News & World Report (Washington) and Evhen Zakharov. In my opinion, the refusal of the top Ukrainian authorities from the participation in this conference and the speech of the new USA Ambassador vividly demonstrated the real, and not pretentious, attitude to human rights. The speech of Ambassador Herbst is quoted below. Oleksiy Korotayev expressed the anxiety of the international institutions, in particular, the profile committees of the UNO, about the situation with the application of torture in Ukraine, ungrounded restrictions of the freedom of expression, in particular the censorship in the form of “temniks”, and the illegal restriction of the access to information. He also remarked that some drafts of Ukrainian laws were imperfect and endangered human rights, for example, the drafts of the Criminal-Procedural Code and of the laws on the registration of physical persons, on the monitoring of telecommunications, etc. Ashley Gotier told about new tendencies in the application of the First Amendment to the USA Constitution in the context of media-legislation and court practices. Her speech was very instructive for the Ukrainian lawyers and journalists, who understood the American attitude to the freedom of expression. I presented the report prepared with the assistance of Olga Zhiriachenkova, a worker of the Embassy. The report described the intermediate results of the USA Embassy project.

The agenda of the work of subject sessions was the following. The reporters for 20-30-minute speeches and experienced moderators were invited to the sessions. The persons, who wanted to deliver the speeches shorter than 10 minutes had to agree beforehand the topics of their speeches with the organizers; after this the topics were included to the agenda. Five minutes were given to everybody, who wanted to take part in the discussion.

Taking into account the great amount of work fulfilled by Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, and by Gennadiy Udovenko, the head of the Parliamentary committee in charge of human rights, national minorities and interethnic relations, the organizers asked them to deliver the basic reports at the corresponding subject sessions. The basic report at the session “The access to justice” was delivered by Igor Koliushko, the manager of the Center of political and legislative reforms, a scientific consultant of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the policy of law. Roman Romanov delivered the basic speech at the session “The right for privacy”, Evhen Zakharov – at the session “The access to information”. It is noteworthy that Mr. Udovenko took into account the absence of the review report on the state of human rights in Ukraine from the viewpoint of the state and, on the first day of the conference, stated in his report the official position of the state concerning the protection of human rights. He mentioned some positive moments: the adoption of the Constitution, introduction of the institute of ombudsperson and the successful work of this institute, adoption of a number of the progressive laws, joining the Council of Europe, signature of several international agreements of the Council of Europe, opportunity to turn to the European Court of human rights and the first successful cases in the Court, improvement of the situation in the spheres of interethnic and inter-confession relations and in other spheres. Mr. Udovenko also described the negative moments and the existing problems. The most important problems, in his opinion, are the low level of legal knowledge and the non-fulfillment of laws. I reckon that the report of Gennadiy Udovenko was very substantial and intelligible, he made an important contribution to the consideration of the state of human rights at the first session.

I think that the agenda of the conference suggested by the organizers was rather sensible. The conference was interesting and informative. The plenary reports were pithy, the discussions were very dynamic. International expert from Geneva Oleksiy Korotayev delivered very helpful speeches during the discussions at all sessions. He permanently compared the problems existing in Ukraine with the common European-Atlantic concepts of human rights. The level of almost all speeches at the conference was high, which was confirmed by assessments of the conference.

The results of the fulfillment of the USA Embassy project also excited a great interest: 200 copies of the printed materials presented at the conference were taken by the participants. In my opinion, it was the most successful conference on human rights, and I am glad that the Kharkov group for human rights protection took part in the organization of the conference. I want to express my gratitude to the workers of the Department of the press, education and culture of the USA Embassy for their selfless work for the conference.

In the end of the first day of the conference the Reception was held by Ambassador John Herbst. The participants of the conference got the pleasant opportunity to communicate with Ambassador Herbst, other workers of the Embassy and colleagues.

Ambassador John Herbst Opening Remarks

Thank you Mr. Zakharov for the warm welcome and introduction. I am honored that the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group asked me to speak. Let me say thank you to the other organizers of this conference, as well as to the leadership of this great university for providing us with a venue for this dialogue. I arrived in Ukraine less than a week ago. It is apt that my first public appearance would be at the 2003 conference on Media Freedom and Human Rights in Ukraine. After all, the United States constitution is devoted to the principles that this conference will address. My interest is in improving the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship to the fullest extent possible. That is best achieved by encouraging Ukraine to realize the democratic objectives that it has laid down and to practice the human rights principles that it has embraced by signing the European Convention on Human Rights. Respect for these basic freedoms is an essential part of the advance to democratic freedom and prosperity.

Ukraine has repeatedly stated its aspiration for integration into Europe, for membership in NATO and the European Union. . To achieve its goals of membership in these organizations, Ukraine must ensure that all its citizens enjoy media freedoms and fundamental human rights. Ukrainians must not be satisfied with their country’s progress until they live in a country free from “temniks”, for example. As some of you may know, I have spent much of my life working in and on the post-Soviet area. In this context, Ukraine has managed some real achievements in the development of a democratic society. At the same time, Ukraine’s human rights record in 2003 continued to raise concern. This week marks the third anniversary of the disappearance of Heorkiy Gongadze, and we still do not know what happened. The recent death in custody of Minister of Interior officer Ihor Honcharov, who had been scheduled to testify in court on the murder of Gongadze, will continue to spark interest in the human rights case of the journalist. Future events in the life of harassed judge Yuriy Vasylenko of the Criminal Division, Kiev Court of Appeals and his wife, lawyer Tetiana Montian, require national and international monitoring attention. In addition, we will continue to monitor events in the high profile lives of human rights defense attorney Andriy Fedur, and of the wife and mother of the slain journalist Gongadze. The controversial vehicular death of journalist Volodymyr Yefremov and attacks on journalists throughout Ukraine continue to cause concern. With the 2004 presidential election, Ukraine’s treatment of its journalists will continue to be a point of international scrutiny.

With presidential elections in Ukraine quickly approaching, Ukraine’s aspirations of European integration hinge on a free, fair, and transparent 2004 presidential election in Ukraine. Outside observers will expect presidential campaigns and the election itself to be conducted based on the very freedoms you are espousing at this conference.

On the positive side, in May 2003 the Government of Ukraine closed the criminal case against numerous Ukrainian publications that alleged defamation of President Kuchma. When parliament votes in September, amendments to the law on TV and radio broadcasting should not restrict the re-broadcasting of the BBC, the Voice of America and Deutsche Welle in Ukraine. Moreover, the Government of Ukraine should cease to put pressure on Western broadcasters and their Ukrainian partners.

Also encouraging is that the State Bureau of Religious Affairs (SBRA) continues to show signs of real governmental representation of all the country’s religions and various believers. Adherents of many faiths have found comfort in freely expressing their beliefs in Ukraine.

During twelve years of independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine has come a long way. But make no mistake; there is a long way to go. This coming year offers real opportunity for Ukrainians to bring greater democracy to Ukraine. Americans stand ready to support Ukrainians to help realize goals of freedom. Now, I am here to listen, to form impressions, and in the coming years, to work with Ukrainians toward improved fundamental freedoms and human rights in Ukraine. I will work with you to support the goals Ukraine has articulated for itself: a future of independence and democracy in Ukraine. I look forward to working with you to make Ukraine a better place for all. Thank you very much.

In what follows we present the short resumes of the sessions.

1. The freedom of expression in Ukraine

Moderator: Roman Romanov, the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia».

Plenary report: Mykola Tomenko.

Participants of the session:

Natalya Ligachova, “Telekritika”. The right for information as a precondition of the professional activities of journalists. Ways and means of protection and self-protection.

Valeriy Ivanov, the Academy of the Ukrainian press. Monitoring of the state of the freedom of the press in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Chekmyshev, a deputy manager of the Institute of journalism of Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, the head of the committee “Rivnist mozhlivostey”. Manipulations in the sphere of mass communication and the technologies of counteraction.

Oleksiy Svetikov, the head of the Lugansk branch of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine. The European perspective as a way for the protection of the freedom of speech: the Lugansk experience.

Jan Chaykovskiy, the philosophic and culturology magazine “I”, Lviv. The myth about the freedom of speech in Ukraine.

Mykola Kozyrev, the Public committee for the protection of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, Lugansk. The freedom of speech on the background of the monitoring of district newspapers of the Lugansk oblast.

Olena Volochay, the all-Ukrainian Independent Association of Judges. The institute of respect to court.

Oleg Tseluyko, the KhG. What will be the jurisprudence of the European court on human rights concerning the freedom of expressing the opinions in the Internet?

Five conferees took part in the discussion.

One can observe the informational war of the Ukrainian power against its own people. More and more frequent journalists obtain the information from one source, and the informational messages of different TV channels are like as two peas in a pod. So, the monitoring of the editorial policy is necessary to learn whether the messages satisfy the modern informational standards. On the other hand, the power wages the war against the journalists, who try to fulfill their professional duty conscientiously. The political opposition is isolated from the most influential mass media; this fact was confirmed by the monitoring conducted by the Academy of the Ukrainian press. The president’s clique brutally meddles in the work of the organ, which, according to its status, should be absolutely independent – the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting. The situation in the Parliament does not allow to hope for the adoption of new, perfect laws. The main goal today is the prevention of the approval of the law drafts, which groundlessly restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the elaboration of new drafts for the future. The self-regulation of journalistic community must be also reformed: in particular, the trade unions should unite the majority of journalists and protect journalists’ professional rights.

The future election campaign is the most important question today. The efforts of the society should be concentrated on the conduction of honest and transparent election. The Council of Europe offered to send the long-term monitoring mission for the supervision over the Presidential election. The role of mass media during an election campaign is extremely significant.

So, we need:

-  the systematical monitoring of the freedom of expression, the regular consultations for mass media and journalists and the legal protection of them;

-  the analysis of all court practices concerning the application of censorship;

-  the familiarization of the society with the law against the censorship, which was adopted in the beginning of April 2003;

-  the adequate reaction of the society to every violation of the freedom of speech;

-  the special program of legal support of mass media in the connection with the coming election campaign (if the election would not be abolished, of course);

-  the moratorium on tax and other checks of mass media (like those that were conducted during the last election).

2. The access to information in Ukraine

Moderator: Taras Shevchenko, “Internews”.

Plenary report: Evhen Zakharov.

Participants of the session:

Sergiy Fedorynchyk, «Zeleny svit». Drawbacks of the state conception of informational policy.

Oleksandr Stepanenko, «Zeleny svit», Chortkiv. Concealment of information as a basic method of self-protection of the corrupted authorities (the misuses in the enterprise “Ternopillis” are described as an example).

Oleksandr Bukalov, “The Donetsk Memorial”. Accessibility of information and penitentiary reform: legislation and law-applying practices.

Evhen Bayramov, the Lugansk branch of the VCU. Access to the information on the budget of the organs of local self-rule: the situation in Severodonetsk.

Oleg Tseluyko, the KhG. The development of the culture of the access to information: the European experience.

Three conferees took part in the discussion.

Owing to the development of the Internet and the computer legal systems, the access to the parliamentary information in Ukraine has essentially improved. Free sites appeared (for instance, rada.kiev.ua) that contain all legal and the majority of open sublegal acts. The computer legal system “Liga-Zakon” includes all normative acts registered by the Ministry of Justice. Yet, this system is chargeable and rather expensive, so only a small number of public organizations can use it. The texts of many law drafts also became accessible, so the non-governmental organizations got the opportunity to exert influence on the legislative activities.

The access to information that is possessed by the organs of executive power is unsatisfactory. The progressive laws “On information”, “On state secrets” and other laws, which had been adopted in the first half of the 90s, were almost brought to nothing by the sublegal acts and the law-applying practices, the main feature of which is the wide use of the illegal security classifications restricting the access to information, in particular, such classifications as “for service use only”, “not for printing” and “not for publishing”. These classifications are not envisaged by laws. The procedure of work with the documents “not for printing” and “not for publishing” is not stipulated by any registered normative acts, and the Instruction on the procedure of work with the documents “for service use only” is written in the spirit of the old good totalitarian times and practically blocks the access to such documents.

The state guards “the information that is a state secret or other secret stipulated by law, confidential information owned by the state, open information that is important for the state, independently of where this information circulates, as well as the open information important for the society or separate persons, if this information circulates in the organs of state power and local self-rule, National Academy of Sciences, Armed Forces, other military units, law-enforcing organs, state enterprises, state establishments and organizations”. The List of the informational items, which are guarded by the state, concerns only the information that is related to state secrets and confidential information owned by the state (classified as “for service use only”). However, the lists of the documents “for service use only” has not been published yet, and the List of the informational items that are state secrets was published immediately after its approval in 1995, but later it was made secret, as well as the later additions to this list. Thus, the decisions on the restriction of the access to information is taken on the basis of the opinion of an official, who is responsible for the secrecy of this information, but not on the basis of open legal acts, as it should be done in a country, which is a member of the Council of Europe.

In order to learn how widely the illegal classifications are applied, the Kharkov group for human rights protection analyzed all documents that were adopted by several central agencies in 2000-2002 and counted up the number of the classified documents. We used the computer system “Liga-Zakon” and learned that the greatest number of the classified documents was issued by the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers. At that, the President applied the classification “not for publishing”, the Cabinet of Ministers – “not for printing”, and various state agencies – mainly “for service use only”. The titles of all documents “for service use only” (from which the substance of a document can be understood) are contained in the database. Yet, the documents “not for publishing” and “not for printing” have only numbers, so it is impossible to comprehend what type of information they concern.

A great number of the nameless documents issued by the President and the Cabinet of Ministers stimulated us to scrutinize the dynamics of the adoption of such documents during the longer period. It appeared that the wide application of the classifications “not for publishing” and “not for printing” had begun in 1994. We observed the obvious peaks of the number of such documents. Although there is no correlation between these peaks, but more often they coincide with the election campaigns and all-Ukrainian referendums. The proportion of such documents reached 7% of the total number. It is also noteworthy that the President classifies much more documents than the Cabinet of Ministers or any other agency. And the growth of the number of the documents “not for publishing” in 2002 coincided with the appointment of Viktor Medvedchuk to the post of the Head of President’s Administration. In September 2002 the proportion of “not for publishing” documents signed by the President made almost 10% of the total number of the issued documents.

The participants of the conference gave many examples of the illegal security classifying of socially important information both on the central (the plan of the actions “Ukraine-NATO”, agreement on the gas consortium, the Regulations on the state administration, information on the increase of salaries of the members of the Supreme Council of Justice, etc.) and local levels (destruction of the run of the Ternopil newspaper “Svoboda” with the information given by the deputies’ commission of the oblast council about the misuses in the company “Ternopillis”, concealment of the town budget by Severodonetsk town administration and so on). At the same time, the participants remarked that there were some positive changes too: some organs of state power and local self-rule became more open, they informed the public about the taken decisions on their own sites, at the public hearings, etc.

In order to improve the situation as a whole it is necessary to adopt the modern law concerning the access to information and to cease the practices of the illegal use of security classifications. Public must permanently and thoroughly control the situation with the access to information.

3. The right for privacy in Ukraine 

Moderator: Evhen Zakharov.

Plenary report: Roman Romanov.

Participants of the session:

Maksim Shcherbatiuk, the Internet Association of Ukraine. The right for privacy in the Internet: reality and prospects.

Evhen Zakharov, the KhG. The system of registration of physical persons and the right for privacy.

Inna Banakh, the fund “Povernennia do zhyttia», Znamenka, the Kirovograd oblast. The analysis of the Ukrainian legislation on the AIDS-infected persons in the context of the observance of the right for privacy.

Eight conferees took part in the discussion.

The right for privacy is somewhat new phenomena in our society. Naturally, in the Soviet times nobody could even dream about the inviolability of private life, correspondence, dwelling, etc. Evhen Sverstiuk correctly called this “a callosity on the public consciousness”. That is why the court claims against the violations of privacy are so rare even now, that is why the Parliament approves the law drafts on the registration of physical persons, although these laws undoubtedly violate the right for the protection of personal information, which is stipulated by the Constitution.

The conferees were familiarized with the modern demands concerning the observance of the right for privacy and considered the basic provisions of the draft of the law on the monitoring of telecommunications and other new legal acts about the collection of information from the communication channels, the law drafts on the registration of physical persons, on protection of personal data, etc. The reporters seriously criticized these law drafts in the connection with the violations of privacy envisaged by the drafts. The unified state automatized passport system is now actively introduced, that the exchange of passports has already begun, although this system is not stipulated by law yet. The tendency exists to use the tax identification number of a person as multi-purpose universal code that will be used in all documents of the person. The opinion was expressed that the realization of this conception would turn Ukraine into a police state, since this would give the law-enforcing structures the opportunity to collect various information about citizens without their consent and the motivation of the purpose of this collection. So, the human rights protecting organizations must analyze the corresponding law drafts and prepare the propositions for the liquidation of these drawbacks.

The participants of the conference briskly discussed the question of the access to medical information on a person, the peculiarities of such access in the case of grave diseases, such as, for example, AIDS. This discussion revealed a number of stereotypes that still are not overcome by public consciousness. One of the conclusions of this discussion was the necessity of familiarization of the public with modern approaches to the right for privacy, in particular, the right for the protection of personal data. The existing draft of the law on personal data must be essentially changed, and, what is the most important, this draft must be considered first of all, before the drafts concerning the collection of personal information. The drafts connected with the processing of personal information must be considered from the viewpoint of the right for privacy.

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

 

The review of the intermediate results of the USA Embassy project “Human rights and the freedom of the press” for March-August 2003

Evhen Zakharov, the Kharkov group for human rights protection (the report at the conference on 18 September)

On 8 November 2002 Steven Pifer, the second deputy of the USA State Secretary in charge of the questions of Europe and Eurasia, announced the competition of the projects of the Ukrainian NGOs and mass media, which would promote the freedom of the press and the observance of human rights. The goals of the competition: a) increasing the ability of regional NGOs to realize the monitoring and to inform about the violations of human rights; b) informing the public about the international standards on human rights and the freedom of the press; c) strengthening the juridical base of the protection of human rights and the freedom of mass media. The priority of the topics: a) monitoring and informing about the violations of human rights; b) creation of the reference service for rendering the juridical aid to the victims of the violations of human rights or the freedom of speech; c) inspection of prisons and other establishments closed for public, distribution of the information about the upkeep conditions in these establishments; d) informing the public about human rights and the freedom of speech by means of TV and radio features, special columns in newspapers and magazines, consultations and conduction of round tables.

The organizers of the competition received 234 applications. 42 organizations became the winners: they got the grants (6-8 thousand USD each, the total sum was more than 300,000 USD) for the realization of the project “Human rights and the freedom of the press” during the period April-December 2003. The Embassy gave 20 grants for the work in the sphere of the freedom of mass media and 22 grants for the work in other spheres of human rights and freedoms. The grants were distributed after the regional principle: each oblast of Ukraine got 1-2 grants, and I believe that that was an undoubtedly positive feature of the project.

The Kharkov group for human rights protection (the KhG, in what follows) fulfills the following functions in this project: coordination, collection and distribution of the information, consultations, preparation and conduction of joint actions (the training at the beginning of the project and the conference with the demonstration of intermediate results in September) and the generalization of the results of the work of all partners in the form of intermediate and final reports. In March 2004 the KhG must prepare, print and spread the final report among the governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The draft began from the 5-day training for the participants of the project and other organizations. During March the KhG prepared and printed the book “The freedom of expression in Ukraine-2002” in Ukrainian and English (1000 and 500 copies, 320 and 160 pages, respectively). The training was carried on 29 March-2 April in Kharkov, 89 activists of non-governmental human rights protecting organizations and 10 experts-trainers took part in the training. Representatives of international human rights protecting organizations, such as “Article 19” (the Great Britain) and Helsinki foundation of human rights (Poland), as well as the well-known Ukrainian specialists, were engaged in the training. On 29-30 March the participants of the training attended the lectures “Introduction to the conception of human rights”, “What human rights are?” and “Public reception offices of human rights protecting organizations”. They also discussed the technical and organizational aspects of the project: joint activities and duties of the partners, spreading the information, consultations, reporting and the plans of all organizations taking part in the project. After this the participants divided into four groups and considered the examples of the successful monitoring projects and the plans for further work in the following spheres: the freedom of speech and the press, access to information, access to justice, freedom from torture and cruel treatment. On 31 March-2 April four specialists from the Helsinki foundation of human rights conducted the school on the methods of the monitoring of human rights.

Each participant of the training got the following books and informational materials:

1. “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2001” (328 pp.)
2. “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2002” (320 pp.)
3. “Freedom and practices of mass media in Ukraine” (128 с.)
4. The bulletin “Freedom of expression and privacy”, Nos. 3,4 (2000), 1-4(2001), 1-4 (2002), 1 (2003).
5. “Against torture. The UNO international mechanisms” (152 pp.)
6. “Against torture. The Council of Europe international mechanisms” (200 pp.)
7. “Against torture. The review of messages, 1997-2001” (200 pp.)
8. “Freedom of peaceful assemblies and the freedom of associations in Ukraine” (200 pp.)
9. “Observance of human rights in Ukraine-2001” (64 pp.)
10. “Monitoring of human rights. Informational materials”
11. “Fulfillment of the projects on the basis of the USA Embassy grants. Informational materials”

Besides, every participant received the books needed for the work on the project, which had been bought by the KhG: the Russian-English and Ukrainian-English dictionaries of juridical terms, popular juridical encyclopedia, Civil Code of Ukraine that would come into effect on 1 January 2004, reference book with the samples of court claims and other editions.

The monitoring of the freedom of the press was realized on the national (the Institute of mass information (IMI) and the KhG) and regional (16 organizations-partners) levels. The IMI and the KhG used the similar methods in their work. They obtained the data about the informational conflicts from their regional partners, sent their representatives to the places of the conflicts for the ascertainment of details and rendering the juridical consultations, represented the rights of journalists and mass media in court, informed the public about the events through their sites and electronic delivery, generalized the collected information in the monthly electronic editions “Barometer of freedom” (the IMI) and “Freedom of expression in Ukraine” (the KhG) in Ukrainian and English. The IMI cooperated mainly with its own regional correspondents, and the KhG used the materials given by the organizations, who took part in the project, and other organizations: the IMI, Association of professional journalists and admen of the Zhytomir oblast, Kirovograd association “Public initiatives”, Public committee for the protection of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens (Lugansk), Kherson, Transcarpathian, Lugansk and Chernivtsy oblast organizations of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine, newspaper “Vikna” (Kalush), Poltava media club and so on. As a result, the cases were disclosed of direct or indirect censorship on the side of various organs of state power, as well as the attacks on journalists; several cases on defamation were won. It is noteworthy that the IMI and the KhG supplemented each other: the IMI was mainly occupied with the legal aid, and the KhG – with the analysis and interpretation of the law drafts concerning the freedom of expression.

One of the successful ideas of the project was the organization of the consultations for the participants of the project in the places of their work and in Kharkov. In April-August Oleg Tseluyko, a member of the KhG, visited the organizations-partners in Cherkassy, Poltava, Kremenchug, Sumy, Zaporozhye, Kirovograd, Znamenka, Chernivtsy, Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Lutsk, Novovolynsk, Khmilnyk, Khmilnytsky, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Chernigiv and Zhytomir. There he met, besides the partners, with the representatives of the oblast committees in charge of information (regional branches of the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting), appeal courts, oblast prosecutor’s offices. In that way he tried to learn the opinion of the second party in the regional informational conflicts in order to establish the reasons of such conflicts. These visits were very useful both for the collection of information and for the increase of the effectiveness of juridical consultations. For instance, the quick collection and distribution of the information about the criminal case after Article 344 of the Criminal Code against seven local newspapers, meetings with the editors of these newspapers and with the representatives of prosecutor’s office, who fulfilled the order of the General Prosecutor’s office about the seizure of the newspapers and interrogations of the editors-in-chief, as well as the debates on the prospects of this criminal case drew the public attention to the case, the circumstances of the case were actively discussed in the press, and the violations of criminal procedure were sharply criticized. As a result, in May the case was closed.

The members of the Association of professional journalists and admen of the Zhytomir oblast successfully conducted the regional monitoring of the freedom of speech in all directions: they considered the informational conflicts in the region, rendered the free juridical consultations to journalists and mass media, in particular to those, against whom the claims had been handed to court, and sometimes realized the defense in court processes. Besides, the Association elucidated the generalized results of the monitoring in its own weekly “Media Advocate” (two double issues were published: Nos. 1-2 and 3-4), one of the positive features of which was the publication of court decisions. The Association conducted the monitoring of 13 newspapers of the Zhytomir oblast and got very important results. As a result, they uncovered the cases of meddling into the activities of the editorial boards of local editions on the side of the local power organs, in particular the oblast state administration, that passed some materials to the editorial boards, which materials the newspapers were obliged to print. By the conclusions of the researchers, the local press has the tendency to elucidate the socially important topics (for, example the discussion of the constitutional reform) from one point of view. The alternative opinions are absolutely absent in state mass media and are presented insufficiently in the independent editions. Opposition political figures have no opportunity to publish their views: they can express their opinions only in the party editions, which are subordinated to them. The non-governmental editions publish the materials of the opposition party leaders only as advertisements (and not during election campaigns). In this way the editions justify the publication of such materials in the eyes of the state organs.

The detailed description of the regional informational conflicts was presented by the Kherson organization of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine as a result of the monitoring of 10 local newspapers. The same sources, i.e. the local newspapers, were used by the magazine “I” for the analysis of the state of the freedom of speech in the Lviv and Volyn oblasts. All materials on this topic published by three most popular newspapers of the Lviv oblast and three newspapers of the Volyn oblast were analyzed. The results are the following: the Lviv oblast is noticeably more active and open for the press than the Volyn oblast, that Lviv newspapers are richer, which fact influences the quality of the materials, although, all in all, the total level of the materials, in the opinion of the researchers, is very low.

The Sumy oblast committee of youth organizations conducted the sociological poll of the inhabitants of Sumy and several towns of the Sumy oblast: Glukhiv, Lebedin, Okhtyrka and Romny. The poll concerned the transparency of the work of local power organs and the confidence in the press. The results of the poll were distressing: the majority of the respondents did not believe that the Presidential election would be honest, transparent and democratic, and the proportion of positive answers to the question about the possibility of exerting influence on the power through public organizations varied from 51.7% in Okhtyrka to 31% in Lebedin. So, much work should be done to reach the real impact of public organizations on the situation and to change the public attitude to such activities.

Along with the monitoring of the freedom of the press, the participants of the project carried out the monitoring of other rights and freedoms. So, the Kharkov oblast union of soldiers’ mothers prepared the analytic report on the basis of the results of the monitoring of human rights in the army. The authors of the report gave the classification of the violations of human rights and proposed the ways of liquidation of these violations. The Kharkov group for human rights protection collected the information about the cases of torture and cruel treatment in militia, penitentiaries and army, analyzed the legislation in order to find the legal norms vulnerable from the standpoint of the possibility of applying torture. The charity fund “Povernennia do zhyttia” analyzed the normative legal acts that concern the AIDS-infected people. The Kherson oblast organization of the VCU conducted the monitoring of the violations of the wide sphere of human rights after the publications in 10 local editions and prepared the systematic register of such violations. The similar work was fulfilled by the Transcarpathian branch of the VCU.

Some partners, in particular the KhG, attended both to the adopted law drafts and the law drafts that were still considered by the Supreme Rada. The comments were prepared to a number of laws and law drafts connected with the topic of the project: “On the introduction of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine”, “On the freedom of consciousness and religious organizations”, “On the struggle with terrorism”, “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine (in the connection with the introduction of the Law “On the struggle with terrorism”)”, “On the protection of personal data”, “On the freedom of movement”, “On the State register of physical persons”, “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine (concerning the protection of state secrets)” and the draft of the Criminal-Procedural Code. These propositions and remarks were sent to the corresponding Parliamentary committees, placed on several sites, published in the press, in particular, in the newspapers “Dzerkalo tyzhnia”, “Yuridychny visnyk Ukrainy”, “Lvivska gazeta” and the magazine “Korrespondent”. For instance, the analysis of the Law “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine (concerning the protection of state secrets)”, which had been adopted by the Supreme Rada on 9 July, was printed in a number of well-known electronic editions (sites “Maydan”, “Obkom”, “Telekritika”, IMI, KhG), in the newspapers “Dzerkalo tyzhnia” and “Yuridychny visnyk Ukrainy”. Earlier the journalists’ community and the experts in the sphere of the freedom of expression, including the IMI and KhG, turned to the President with the proposition to veto this law. As a result, the President used this right and the existing version of the Law will not come into effect. The Parliament also took into account some propositions by the KhG on the law draft “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine (in the connection with the introduction of the Law “On the struggle with terrorism”)”: the legislators removed the most odious norms, which permitted, in some cases, the wiretapping without court warrant and the conduction of the ODA without the institution of a criminal case.

The participants of the project also rendered the direct aid to the victims of the violations of human rights, combining this aid with the enlightenment work (mainly through the publications in the local press) in order to teach the people to protect their rights by themselves. So, during the period under report, 375 persons turned to the public reception office of the KhG, among them 102 persons turned by the electronic mail through the KhG site. Everybody, who tuned to us, got the consultations, and some of them got the legal aid (in the cases, where, in our opinion, the law-enforcing organs violated the human rights). The majority of the complainers are poor people, who cannot afford to pay for advocate’s services. The complaints concerned the unjust, in the opinion of the complainers, court verdicts or the decisions on civil cases; pay arrears; actions of local power organs connected with the debts for communal services; actions of law-enforcing organs, in particular, the complaints about the application of torture; repressive actions of power organs against the opposition editions and groups, etc. Two cases on pay arrears were successfully completed owing to the claims to the European Court (the claims were prepared by the KhG) connected with the violation of Article 6 of the European Convention of human rights: non-execution of the court decision about the payment of the arrears of wages. The arrears were paid at once after the Secretariat of the Court was informed about the beginning of the communication on these cases. After that the claimants recalled their writ from the Court register. The communication on another claim to the European Court, which was prepared by the KhG after the fact of applying torture in the Kyivskiy district militia precinct of Kharkov, has been started, and there are many chances that this claim will be accepted. Besides, a defamation case against Poltava journalist Druzhinina, which was controlled by the KhG, has been also completed happily in a court: the claim was rejected. There were some other good results: for example, an illegally instituted criminal case was closed after the interference of the KhG. Lawyers of the Podilsk center of human rights went to the towns of the oblast and rendered 285 legal consultations in the consultation centers. The public reception office of the Kirovograd Association “Public initiatives” received 50 clients per moths, which was twice more than it had been planned. The greater part of the people, who turned to the reception office, represented the socially unprotected layers of the population: pensioners, invalids and unemployed. The same situation was observed in the reception offices of other participants of the project: Zaporozhye oblast public organization “Youth Rukh”, “Podilsk human rights foundation”, Congress of businessmen of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, etc. The limited time of my speech does not permit to tell about the effective work of other partners of the project: the Cherkassy union of soldiers’ mothers, newspaper “Yug” (Odessa), etc.

Not all participants of the project presented the information about their activities and prepared the intermediate reports in the proper time (although we see from the reports that the work of, for instance, the all-Ukrainian independent association of judges and the Donetsk fund “Dobrota” was fruitful), so the final conclusions can be done only after the completion of the project. However, one can see even now that the project is rather successful, and many important and useful results were obtained during the work after the project.

Now I want to say several words about the preparation of the generalized intermediate report. The KhG got the intermediate reports about the fulfillment of the project from 24 organizations out of 42, 7 of these reports were, in fact, not reports, but the materials prepared in the course of the fulfillment. Thus, the KhG had the opportunity to generalize only some part of the information. This information is contained in five brochures of A4 format, which were printed in 200 copies and spread among the participants of the conference. One of the brochures includes 17 intermediate reports (“Intermediate reports of the participants of the project”, 56 pp.). The results of the monitoring of the freedom of expression are presented in the brochure “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2003, January-August” (172 pp.). The booklet “Regional monitoring of the freedom of the press” (40 pp.) holds the materials about Zhytomir, Sumy, Lviv and Lugansk. The brochure “Legal comments” (96 pp.) contains the analyses of law drafts and the comments to them (all materials were prepared by the KhG, except one text by the fund “Povernennia do zhyttia”). The booklet “Monitoring of human rights in Ukraine. Some aspects” (148 pp.) includes the review of the facts of torture and cruel treatment collected by the KhG and its partners during the reporting period, the results of the monitoring of human rights in the army and two regional monitorings of human rights prepared by the Kherson and Transcarpathian oblast branches of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine. Besides the KhG prepared the booklet «Freedom of Expression in Ukraine-2003, January-August» (58 pp., this is a partial translation into English of the corresponding Ukrainian booklet) and published the brochure “Observance of human rights in Ukraine-2002” (the translation of the report of the USA State Department). The conferees also have the opportunity to survey the exhibition of other KhG editions and to place an order for the literature they need for their work: we will send this literature by post gratis.

The USA Embassy hopes to widen the Ukrainian network of NGOs that will conduct the monitoring of the violations of human rights and the freedom of the press in the regions. Perhaps, in future this network will be endorsed by such international donor organizations as the UNO Program of development, coalition “Partnership for transparent society”, Foundation “Eurasia”, International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”, National Democratic Republican Institute, European Commission and the Institute “Open Society”.

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

 

Media trade union is created in Kremenchug

The trade union should protect the rights of journalists and solve the problems of the workers of town mass media in the sphere of labor and professional relations. This information was communicated to the informational agency “Kontekst-media” by Mykola Feldman, the head of the Kremenchug independent media trade union.

According to his words, this project was supported by the public organization “Za pravo kozhnogo”, Kyiv independent media trade union, Kremenchug media-league and the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”. Mykola Feldman reckons that the creation of the Kremenchug independent media trade union is the first step to the creation of the efficient union of mass media workers.

The preparatory work will be finished in September, and the registration of the initial branches of the town trade union in the editorial boards will begin.

In the opinion of Mykola Feldman, lawyers should be included into the staff of the union, who would not only render the legal aid to journalists in court, but would also protect the rights of mass media workers concerning salaries, conditions of work, etc.

 (“Kontekst-media”, http://www.profspilka.org.ua;
 «The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 48, 28 September 2003)

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004 | Evhen Zakharov, the Kharkov group for human rights protection

The review of the intermediate results of the USA Embassy project “Human rights and the freedom of the press” for March-August 2003

   

Evhen Zakharov, the Kharkov group for human rights protection (the report at the conference on 18 September)

On 8 November 2002 Steven Pifer, the second deputy of the USA State Secretary in charge of the questions of Europe and Eurasia, announced the competition of the projects of the Ukrainian NGOs and mass media, which would promote the freedom of the press and the observance of human rights. The goals of the competition: a) increasing the ability of regional NGOs to realize the monitoring and to inform about the violations of human rights; b) informing the public about the international standards on human rights and the freedom of the press; c) strengthening the juridical base of the protection of human rights and the freedom of mass media. The priority of the topics: a) monitoring and informing about the violations of human rights; b) creation of the reference service for rendering the juridical aid to the victims of the violations of human rights or the freedom of speech; c) inspection of prisons and other establishments closed for public, distribution of the information about the upkeep conditions in these establishments; d) informing the public about human rights and the freedom of speech by means of TV and radio features, special columns in newspapers and magazines, consultations and conduction of round tables.

The organizers of the competition received 234 applications. 42 organizations became the winners: they got the grants (6-8 thousand USD each, the total sum was more than 300,000 USD) for the realization of the project “Human rights and the freedom of the press” during the period April-December 2003. The Embassy gave 20 grants for the work in the sphere of the freedom of mass media and 22 grants for the work in other spheres of human rights and freedoms. The grants were distributed after the regional principle: each oblast of Ukraine got 1-2 grants, and I believe that that was an undoubtedly positive feature of the project.

The Kharkov group for human rights protection (the KhG, in what follows) fulfills the following functions in this project: coordination, collection and distribution of the information, consultations, preparation and conduction of joint actions (the training at the beginning of the project and the conference with the demonstration of intermediate results in September) and the generalization of the results of the work of all partners in the form of intermediate and final reports. In March 2004 the KhG must prepare, print and spread the final report among the governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The draft began from the 5-day training for the participants of the project and other organizations. During March the KhG prepared and printed the book “The freedom of expression in Ukraine-2002” in Ukrainian and English (1000 and 500 copies, 320 and 160 pages, respectively). The training was carried on 29 March-2 April in Kharkov, 89 activists of non-governmental human rights protecting organizations and 10 experts-trainers took part in the training. Representatives of international human rights protecting organizations, such as “Article 19” (the Great Britain) and Helsinki foundation of human rights (Poland), as well as the well-known Ukrainian specialists, were engaged in the training. On 29-30 March the participants of the training attended the lectures “Introduction to the conception of human rights”, “What human rights are?” and “Public reception offices of human rights protecting organizations”. They also discussed the technical and organizational aspects of the project: joint activities and duties of the partners, spreading the information, consultations, reporting and the plans of all organizations taking part in the project. After this the participants divided into four groups and considered the examples of the successful monitoring projects and the plans for further work in the following spheres: the freedom of speech and the press, access to information, access to justice, freedom from torture and cruel treatment. On 31 March-2 April four specialists from the Helsinki foundation of human rights conducted the school on the methods of the monitoring of human rights.

Each participant of the training got the following books and informational materials:

1. “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2001” (328 pp.)
2. “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2002” (320 pp.)
3. “Freedom and practices of mass media in Ukraine” (128 с.)
4. The bulletin “Freedom of expression and privacy”, Nos. 3,4 (2000), 1-4(2001), 1-4 (2002), 1 (2003).
5. “Against torture. The UNO international mechanisms” (152 pp.)
6. “Against torture. The Council of Europe international mechanisms” (200 pp.)
7. “Against torture. The review of messages, 1997-2001” (200 pp.)
8. “Freedom of peaceful assemblies and the freedom of associations in Ukraine” (200 pp.)
9. “Observance of human rights in Ukraine-2001” (64 pp.)
10. “Monitoring of human rights. Informational materials”
11. “Fulfillment of the projects on the basis of the USA Embassy grants. Informational materials”

Besides, every participant received the books needed for the work on the project, which had been bought by the KhG: the Russian-English and Ukrainian-English dictionaries of juridical terms, popular juridical encyclopedia, Civil Code of Ukraine that would come into effect on 1 January 2004, reference book with the samples of court claims and other editions.

The monitoring of the freedom of the press was realized on the national (the Institute of mass information (IMI) and the KhG) and regional (16 organizations-partners) levels. The IMI and the KhG used the similar methods in their work. They obtained the data about the informational conflicts from their regional partners, sent their representatives to the places of the conflicts for the ascertainment of details and rendering the juridical consultations, represented the rights of journalists and mass media in court, informed the public about the events through their sites and electronic delivery, generalized the collected information in the monthly electronic editions “Barometer of freedom” (the IMI) and “Freedom of expression in Ukraine” (the KhG) in Ukrainian and English. The IMI cooperated mainly with its own regional correspondents, and the KhG used the materials given by the organizations, who took part in the project, and other organizations: the IMI, Association of professional journalists and admen of the Zhytomir oblast, Kirovograd association “Public initiatives”, Public committee for the protection of the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens (Lugansk), Kherson, Transcarpathian, Lugansk and Chernivtsy oblast organizations of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine, newspaper “Vikna” (Kalush), Poltava media club and so on. As a result, the cases were disclosed of direct or indirect censorship on the side of various organs of state power, as well as the attacks on journalists; several cases on defamation were won. It is noteworthy that the IMI and the KhG supplemented each other: the IMI was mainly occupied with the legal aid, and the KhG – with the analysis and interpretation of the law drafts concerning the freedom of expression.

One of the successful ideas of the project was the organization of the consultations for the participants of the project in the places of their work and in Kharkov. In April-August Oleg Tseluyko, a member of the KhG, visited the organizations-partners in Cherkassy, Poltava, Kremenchug, Sumy, Zaporozhye, Kirovograd, Znamenka, Chernivtsy, Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Lutsk, Novovolynsk, Khmilnyk, Khmilnytsky, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Chernigiv and Zhytomir. There he met, besides the partners, with the representatives of the oblast committees in charge of information (regional branches of the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting), appeal courts, oblast prosecutor’s offices. In that way he tried to learn the opinion of the second party in the regional informational conflicts in order to establish the reasons of such conflicts. These visits were very useful both for the collection of information and for the increase of the effectiveness of juridical consultations. For instance, the quick collection and distribution of the information about the criminal case after Article 344 of the Criminal Code against seven local newspapers, meetings with the editors of these newspapers and with the representatives of prosecutor’s office, who fulfilled the order of the General Prosecutor’s office about the seizure of the newspapers and interrogations of the editors-in-chief, as well as the debates on the prospects of this criminal case drew the public attention to the case, the circumstances of the case were actively discussed in the press, and the violations of criminal procedure were sharply criticized. As a result, in May the case was closed.

The members of the Association of professional journalists and admen of the Zhytomir oblast successfully conducted the regional monitoring of the freedom of speech in all directions: they considered the informational conflicts in the region, rendered the free juridical consultations to journalists and mass media, in particular to those, against whom the claims had been handed to court, and sometimes realized the defense in court processes. Besides, the Association elucidated the generalized results of the monitoring in its own weekly “Media Advocate” (two double issues were published: Nos. 1-2 and 3-4), one of the positive features of which was the publication of court decisions. The Association conducted the monitoring of 13 newspapers of the Zhytomir oblast and got very important results. As a result, they uncovered the cases of meddling into the activities of the editorial boards of local editions on the side of the local power organs, in particular the oblast state administration, that passed some materials to the editorial boards, which materials the newspapers were obliged to print. By the conclusions of the researchers, the local press has the tendency to elucidate the socially important topics (for, example the discussion of the constitutional reform) from one point of view. The alternative opinions are absolutely absent in state mass media and are presented insufficiently in the independent editions. Opposition political figures have no opportunity to publish their views: they can express their opinions only in the party editions, which are subordinated to them. The non-governmental editions publish the materials of the opposition party leaders only as advertisements (and not during election campaigns). In this way the editions justify the publication of such materials in the eyes of the state organs.

The detailed description of the regional informational conflicts was presented by the Kherson organization of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine as a result of the monitoring of 10 local newspapers. The same sources, i.e. the local newspapers, were used by the magazine “I” for the analysis of the state of the freedom of speech in the Lviv and Volyn oblasts. All materials on this topic published by three most popular newspapers of the Lviv oblast and three newspapers of the Volyn oblast were analyzed. The results are the following: the Lviv oblast is noticeably more active and open for the press than the Volyn oblast, that Lviv newspapers are richer, which fact influences the quality of the materials, although, all in all, the total level of the materials, in the opinion of the researchers, is very low.

The Sumy oblast committee of youth organizations conducted the sociological poll of the inhabitants of Sumy and several towns of the Sumy oblast: Glukhiv, Lebedin, Okhtyrka and Romny. The poll concerned the transparency of the work of local power organs and the confidence in the press. The results of the poll were distressing: the majority of the respondents did not believe that the Presidential election would be honest, transparent and democratic, and the proportion of positive answers to the question about the possibility of exerting influence on the power through public organizations varied from 51.7% in Okhtyrka to 31% in Lebedin. So, much work should be done to reach the real impact of public organizations on the situation and to change the public attitude to such activities.

Along with the monitoring of the freedom of the press, the participants of the project carried out the monitoring of other rights and freedoms. So, the Kharkov oblast union of soldiers’ mothers prepared the analytic report on the basis of the results of the monitoring of human rights in the army. The authors of the report gave the classification of the violations of human rights and proposed the ways of liquidation of these violations. The Kharkov group for human rights protection collected the information about the cases of torture and cruel treatment in militia, penitentiaries and army, analyzed the legislation in order to find the legal norms vulnerable from the standpoint of the possibility of applying torture. The charity fund “Povernennia do zhyttia” analyzed the normative legal acts that concern the AIDS-infected people. The Kherson oblast organization of the VCU conducted the monitoring of the violations of the wide sphere of human rights after the publications in 10 local editions and prepared the systematic register of such violations. The similar work was fulfilled by the Transcarpathian branch of the VCU.

Some partners, in particular the KhG, attended both to the adopted law drafts and the law drafts that were still considered by the Supreme Rada. The comments were prepared to a number of laws and law drafts connected with the topic of the project: “On the introduction of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine”, “On the freedom of consciousness and religious organizations”, “On the struggle with terrorism”, “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine (in the connection with the introduction of the Law “On the struggle with terrorism”)”, “On the protection of personal data”, “On the freedom of movement”, “On the State register of physical persons”, “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine (concerning the protection of state secrets)” and the draft of the Criminal-Procedural Code. These propositions and remarks were sent to the corresponding Parliamentary committees, placed on several sites, published in the press, in particular, in the newspapers “Dzerkalo tyzhnia”, “Yuridychny visnyk Ukrainy”, “Lvivska gazeta” and the magazine “Korrespondent”. For instance, the analysis of the Law “On the introduction of changes to some legal acts of Ukraine (concerning the protection of state secrets)”, which had been adopted by the Supreme Rada on 9 July, was printed in a number of well-known electronic editions (sites “Maydan”, “Obkom”, “Telekritika”, IMI, KhG), in the newspapers “Dzerkalo tyzhnia” and “Yuridychny visnyk Ukrainy”. Earlier the journalists’ community and the experts in the sphere of the freedom of expression, including the IMI and KhG, turned to the President with the proposition to veto this law. As a result, the President used this right and the existing version of the Law will not come into effect. The Parliament also took into account some propositions by the KhG on the law draft “On the introduction of changes to some laws of Ukraine (in the connection with the introduction of the Law “On the struggle with terrorism”)”: the legislators removed the most odious norms, which permitted, in some cases, the wiretapping without court warrant and the conduction of the ODA without the institution of a criminal case.

The participants of the project also rendered the direct aid to the victims of the violations of human rights, combining this aid with the enlightenment work (mainly through the publications in the local press) in order to teach the people to protect their rights by themselves. So, during the period under report, 375 persons turned to the public reception office of the KhG, among them 102 persons turned by the electronic mail through the KhG site. Everybody, who tuned to us, got the consultations, and some of them got the legal aid (in the cases, where, in our opinion, the law-enforcing organs violated the human rights). The majority of the complainers are poor people, who cannot afford to pay for advocate’s services. The complaints concerned the unjust, in the opinion of the complainers, court verdicts or the decisions on civil cases; pay arrears; actions of local power organs connected with the debts for communal services; actions of law-enforcing organs, in particular, the complaints about the application of torture; repressive actions of power organs against the opposition editions and groups, etc. Two cases on pay arrears were successfully completed owing to the claims to the European Court (the claims were prepared by the KhG) connected with the violation of Article 6 of the European Convention of human rights: non-execution of the court decision about the payment of the arrears of wages. The arrears were paid at once after the Secretariat of the Court was informed about the beginning of the communication on these cases. After that the claimants recalled their writ from the Court register. The communication on another claim to the European Court, which was prepared by the KhG after the fact of applying torture in the Kyivskiy district militia precinct of Kharkov, has been started, and there are many chances that this claim will be accepted. Besides, a defamation case against Poltava journalist Druzhinina, which was controlled by the KhG, has been also completed happily in a court: the claim was rejected. There were some other good results: for example, an illegally instituted criminal case was closed after the interference of the KhG. Lawyers of the Podilsk center of human rights went to the towns of the oblast and rendered 285 legal consultations in the consultation centers. The public reception office of the Kirovograd Association “Public initiatives” received 50 clients per moths, which was twice more than it had been planned. The greater part of the people, who turned to the reception office, represented the socially unprotected layers of the population: pensioners, invalids and unemployed. The same situation was observed in the reception offices of other participants of the project: Zaporozhye oblast public organization “Youth Rukh”, “Podilsk human rights foundation”, Congress of businessmen of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, etc. The limited time of my speech does not permit to tell about the effective work of other partners of the project: the Cherkassy union of soldiers’ mothers, newspaper “Yug” (Odessa), etc.

Not all participants of the project presented the information about their activities and prepared the intermediate reports in the proper time (although we see from the reports that the work of, for instance, the all-Ukrainian independent association of judges and the Donetsk fund “Dobrota” was fruitful), so the final conclusions can be done only after the completion of the project. However, one can see even now that the project is rather successful, and many important and useful results were obtained during the work after the project.

Now I want to say several words about the preparation of the generalized intermediate report. The KhG got the intermediate reports about the fulfillment of the project from 24 organizations out of 42, 7 of these reports were, in fact, not reports, but the materials prepared in the course of the fulfillment. Thus, the KhG had the opportunity to generalize only some part of the information. This information is contained in five brochures of A4 format, which were printed in 200 copies and spread among the participants of the conference. One of the brochures includes 17 intermediate reports (“Intermediate reports of the participants of the project”, 56 pp.). The results of the monitoring of the freedom of expression are presented in the brochure “Freedom of expression in Ukraine-2003, January-August” (172 pp.). The booklet “Regional monitoring of the freedom of the press” (40 pp.) holds the materials about Zhytomir, Sumy, Lviv and Lugansk. The brochure “Legal comments” (96 pp.) contains the analyses of law drafts and the comments to them (all materials were prepared by the KhG, except one text by the fund “Povernennia do zhyttia”). The booklet “Monitoring of human rights in Ukraine. Some aspects” (148 pp.) includes the review of the facts of torture and cruel treatment collected by the KhG and its partners during the reporting period, the results of the monitoring of human rights in the army and two regional monitorings of human rights prepared by the Kherson and Transcarpathian oblast branches of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine. Besides the KhG prepared the booklet «Freedom of Expression in Ukraine-2003, January-August» (58 pp., this is a partial translation into English of the corresponding Ukrainian booklet) and published the brochure “Observance of human rights in Ukraine-2002” (the translation of the report of the USA State Department). The conferees also have the opportunity to survey the exhibition of other KhG editions and to place an order for the literature they need for their work: we will send this literature by post gratis.

The USA Embassy hopes to widen the Ukrainian network of NGOs that will conduct the monitoring of the violations of human rights and the freedom of the press in the regions. Perhaps, in future this network will be endorsed by such international donor organizations as the UNO Program of development, coalition “Partnership for transparent society”, Foundation “Eurasia”, International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”, National Democratic Republican Institute, European Commission and the Institute “Open Society”.

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

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression

08.04.2004 | Evhen Zakharov, the Kharkov group for human rights protection

Media trade union is created in Kremenchug

   

The trade union should protect the rights of journalists and solve the problems of the workers of town mass media in the sphere of labor and professional relations. This information was communicated to the informational agency “Kontekst-media” by Mykola Feldman, the head of the Kremenchug independent media trade union.

According to his words, this project was supported by the public organization “Za pravo kozhnogo”, Kyiv independent media trade union, Kremenchug media-league and the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”. Mykola Feldman reckons that the creation of the Kremenchug independent media trade union is the first step to the creation of the efficient union of mass media workers.

The preparatory work will be finished in September, and the registration of the initial branches of the town trade union in the editorial boards will begin.

In the opinion of Mykola Feldman, lawyers should be included into the staff of the union, who would not only render the legal aid to journalists in court, but would also protect the rights of mass media workers concerning salaries, conditions of work, etc.

 (“Kontekst-media”, http://www.profspilka.org.ua;
 «The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 48, 28 September 2003)

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, №09

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