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Freedom of Expression in Ukraine

Mass media and election


Illegal detention of the participants of the collection of signatures for the all-national election of Ukrainian President


On 5 December 2003 the officers of the Magdalinovskiy district militia precinct (the Dnepropetrovsk oblast) illegally detained the participants of the action organized by Viktor Yushchenko’s bloc “Our Ukraine”. The aim of the action was the collection of signatures for the all-national election of the President of Ukraine. The law-enforcers were headed by O. Ivkevich, a deputy head of the Magdalinovskiy district precinct.

The militiamen motivated their actions with the fact that the leaflets without the dateline were spread during the collection of signatures. The militia called “leaflets” the xerocopies of the informational messages of the Ukrainian Internet editions “Ukrainska Pravda”, “” and “Maydan” about stealing by the officials of the money from state budget-2004.

The members of “Our Ukraine” stayed in the district precinct for more than 3 hours. They were released after the interference of Viktor Achimov, the head of the district organization of the UNP. The militiamen neither compiled the protocol nor apologized to the activists. , 2003-12-08

Mass media and election


Informational project “Media center “Candidate””


The main purpose of the work of Media center “Candidate” is the truthful, timely and exact delivery of information from its sources to the public. The media center is going to do its best for rendering to the society the full and unbiased information about the candidates to President’s post necessary for taking the conscious and thoughtful decision in the day of voting, for prevention of the manipulations with public opinion on the side of both pro-power and opposition forces.

Visitors of the site of Media center “Candidate” will have the opportunity:

-  to learn what the Ukrainian people expect from candidates;

-  to analyze the strategies and tactics of candidates;

-  to see the tools and methods of the power and opposition;

-  to understand the principles of behavior of the power and opposition.

The project “Media center “Candidate”” was initiated by the public organization “Internews-Ukraine”. The center will collect and spread video, audio and textual information connected with the election process. The information will be rendered free of charge to regional TV companies and other mass media.

There is a TV studio in the media center, which makes the so-called “crude” news (that is video and text separately), ready news, archive materials (for instance, “video dossiers” of candidates, “history” of a problem, legislation), informational-analytical weekly, etc.

The special web-page presents: monitoring of elucidation of the basic political problems by the all-Ukrainian TV channels; results of sociological researches; description of the political position of every candidate; databases with the advanced search tools.

Press conferences of the potential candidates, politicians, state officials and experts will be conducted on the site.

(Oleg Zadoyanchuk, the chief editor of the Media center “Candidate”)

(“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 58, 1 December 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists


Yulia Buk, an editor of the newspaper “Ekspress”, was robbed


Yulia Buk, an editor of the newspaper “Ekspress”, was robbed yesterday. The editorial board of the newspaper informed the UNIAN that a stranger had attacked the Yulia in the doorway of her house in evening, when the woman had been returning home from work. The man threatened the journalist with physical violence and snatched out her bag with small sum of money, editorial ID, passport, cell phone and credit card. The victim turned to the Sykhivskiy district militia precinct. The militiamen compiled the picture of the criminal and are now taking measures for his identification.

("UNIAN", 4 December 2003)

According to the materials of monitoring conducted by the ombudsperson 40 workers of mass media perished since 1991

(«Segodnia», No. 279, 8 December 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists


Reaction to the beating of journalist Oleksandr Levit was traditional


Everybody reacted to the beating of Oleksandr Levit, an Odessa correspondent of the newspaper “Fakty”, traditionally: Union of journalists – with an appeal, journalists – with indignation, militia – with promises to find and punish the attackers, prosecutor’s office – with silence.

I want to remind that Oleksandr was cruelly beaten in the Odessa downtown. This was not a robbery or hooliganism – the attackers warned the journalist that they would murder him, if he would not stop to write.

Oleksandr Levit is a reporter. His duty is to inform society about various events. This profession is very dangerous nowadays, and Levit was not the first journalist, who learned that from his own experience. Other journalists had been beaten before: Yuri Fedotkin, Vitaliy Chechik, Igor Rozov, Volodymir Bekhter (he died in a hospital), Stanislav Shandor and Oleksandr Mizin. Some criminals shot at Sergiy Lebedev and Boris Derevianko. The deaths of Yuliy Mazur and Yuri Ivanov were also doubtful. Are not such facts too frequent?

None of these crimes were investigated. The murder of Boris Derevianko is the most glaring example of hushing up the case. The brave Odessa militia almost at once found a usual bandit from the Pridnestrovskiy region. The investigation was falsified so crudely that the case nearly fell to pieces in court. However, the accused was condemned, although even the prosecutor expressed the doubt about his guilt.

The militia also found the scapegoat in O. Levit’s case. Yet, the unexpected thing happened: the accused stated during the interrogation in presence of his victim that militiamen had forced him to admit the guilt.

By the way, I know well about the efficiency of such investigations. I had been also attacked, and militiamen turned to me for the last time in April 1998, although the guilty are not found until now. And I am sure that the investigation of O. Levit’s case will be fruitless too.

The state of the media space of Odessa is pitiable. During last years almost all printed and electronic mass media of the city degenerated into the worst examples of propaganda of successes and prominent qualities of the mayor and governor. What one can say about common journalists, if even the Odessa Guild of correspondents for several years on end awards the governor with some prize as a better friend of the press, and the local branch of the Union of journalists of Ukraine calls him a pattern of journalistic creative activities!

By the data of the Odessa city militia directorate, 9 attacks on journalists were committed this year “with the purpose of robbery”. The main version of the attack on O. Levit considered by law-enforcing organs is hooliganism…

I have another version: the journalists are attacked and murdered by order. This is a peculiar national method of cultivating the loyalty in journalists.

Leonid Kapeliushny

("Svoboda", No. 47, 2-8 December 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists


Maksim Birovash, a correspondent of the newspaper “Dilovy novyny” (Nova Kakhovka), is threatened with physical violence


The newspaper “Vgoru” (the last issue) and the newspaper “Dilovy novyny” (the issue of 20 November) published the article by M. Birovash “The way of Roksolana” – a journalistic investigation of the facts of selling Nova Kakhovka women abroad for the work in sex-business.

“Everything began before the publication in “Dilovy novyny””, tells Maksim Birovash. “While the issue was printed, a man came to the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, called himself a USS officer and asked what it should be done to prevent the publication of the article “The way of Roksolana”. The editor told that it was impossible, then the man promised “the problems” and went away. After that some strangers began to phone to the editorial board, to my mother and to me with threats. Yet, they did not content themselves with the phone threats. On 26 November, when I went out from the building of editorial board, a car pulled up near me. Two boys appeared from the car; they told that I had damaged their business and, so, owned money to them”.

On the same day Maksim sent by fax the application to the General Prosecutor’s office and informed his Kherson colleagues and Sergiy Guz, the head of the Kyiv media trade union, about the threats. The oblast organization of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine (Birovash heads the Nova Kakhovka branch of this organization) directed the letter to head of the oblast USS Oleksiy Obal with the request to investigate the situation and to defend their colleague. The town militia proposed the guard to M. Birovash.

By the words of the journalist, the mother of the girl, whose story was described in the article, is intimidated too.

The oblast USS directorate informed us that, according to the law, they had not to investigate such cases: this was the competence of militia. They also said that the officer of the Nova Kakhovka town directorate, who investigated the case of women-trade, had the right to ask to postpone the publication of the article in interests of the investigation.

 ("Vgoru", Kherson, No. 49, 4 December 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists


Hooligans attacked Oleksandr Nezhivoy, a deputy of the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Pamyatki Ukrainy”


The attack was committed on 25 December about 4 a.m. in the town of Fastov (the Kyiv oblast).

Members of the local organization of the Ukrainian People’s party believe that this attack was not accidental, since on 25 December the Fastov town court had to consider the complaint of Oleksandr Nezhivoy’s son Ivan against the Fastov town executive committee, which prohibited Ivan Nezhivoy to collect the signatures in the downtown for the all-national election of the President of Ukraine.

A week before another “accident” had happened. Bronislava Sytnik, the head of the Fastov organization of the party “Batkivshchina”, was run over with a car.

The son of the journalist informed that some persons in civil clothes had shadowed him during several last weeks, and that the week before he had been warned about the possible physical violence as a “punishment” for his political activities.

(«Svoboda», No. 51, 30 December 2003)

Criminal attempts at journalists


A journalist of the newspaper “Faktor” was attacked in Cherkassy


In the evening of 27 November 2003 a lady-journalist of the newspaper “Faktor” was attacked near the Cherkassy state university. The informational agency “Kontekst-Media” learned about this incident today from Vadim Komarov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. By the words of Mr. Komarov, the journalists of the newspaper “Faktor” got the information that the administration of the University was going to organize the protest action against the construction of the café “Kartopliana khata” near the university. The journalists also learned that a group of students allegedly planned to attack the building site. It is known that the administration of the Cherkassy University protests against this building for a long time. V. Komarov informed that he had sent journalist Irina Bereza to the epicenter of the events with the task to photograph everything. Yet, the journalist was attacked by two strangers, they took away her camera, spoiled the film and inflicted slight bodily injuries to the girl. Bereza immediately phoned to the editorial board and her colleagues drove to her. Yet, the attackers had time to escape. The editor-in-chief of “Faktor” turned to militia with an application. An informant from the Cherkassy oblast militia directorate communicated to the “Kontekst-Media” that the investigation of the crime was carried out. The administration of the university gave no comments.

(“Kontekst-Media”, 28 November 2003,

Restrictions of the access to information


Absence of information is information too. Viktor Medvedchuk, whose name associates with the word “temnik”, disappeared from “temniks” and TV screens


This conclusion was made by the experts of the Academy of the Ukrainian press and the Institute of sociology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Every first week of every month the experts monitor the contents of six basic all-Ukrainian TV channels: “YT-1”, “1+1”, “Inter”, “Novy kanal”, “ICTV” and “STB”.

Yet, this conclusion is the only “sensation” of the monitoring. Everything else is quite usual:

-  all TV channels have the similar “agenda”;

-  there are very few references to the sources of information;

-  the alternative viewpoints are absent in the majority of news;

-  the news are biased.

This opinion was expressed by Valeriy Ivanov, the president of the Academy of the Ukrainian press, after the November monitoring of TV channels.

A month ago Makeev wrote that news of the Ukrainian TV channels were the news “about state officials and organizations of officials” got from the same officials.

Naturally, the situation has not changed during the month: the “great politics” demonstrated on the TV screens is rather the politics of state institutions and persons than the politics of parties and fractions.

There is only one change: in November the center of attention shifted from the President (18.5%) to the Supreme Rada (21.2%). At that the frequency of mentions of the latter increased almost twice (in October this number was 11.8%).

The second place in the rating of mentioning is occupied by the force structures (20.9% of messages). Maybe that happened because of the replacement of the General Prosecutor and the attempt at Kisel, and maybe the USS and militia are active newsmakers.

As to the mentioning of individual political figures, the current situation in Ukraine changed this proportion very much in November.

It is known that the active resistance to the conduction of the forums of “Our Ukraine” was observed in the beginning of the past month, and this fact caused the corresponding response of the opposition in the Supreme Rada. There were also some troubles connected with the appointments of new General Prosecutor and vice-speaker; scandal in the Union of writers; release from custody of Pukach, the witness in Gongadze’s case, and the explosion of the car of gangster Kisel.

So, the political pattern of the news may be described as follows:

1)  Ukrainian-Russian relations/ Tuzla Peninsula – 6% (the main event)

2)  Current events in the Supreme Rada/crisis in the Supreme Rada – 5.2%

3)  Explosion of Kisel’s car – 3.7%

4)  Political reform – 3.5%

5)  Conflict in the Union of writers – 2.7%

6)  Appointment of new General Prosecutor – 2.5%

7)  Events in Donetsk – 2.2%

8)  Actions of 7 November – 2.2%

9)  Gongadze’s case – 0.5%

These events, in the opinion of experts, are the basic ones and make from 22% to 40% of all news about Ukraine.

Thus, in spite of the attempts of opposition to stress on the importance of the Donetsk events for democracy in our country, all six TV channels represented these events as something local and insignificant, connected only with “Our Ukraine”.

Speaker Volodymir Litvin became the leader of the personal rating in the beginning of the month (13.7%). One of his remarks was: “Continue to block, if you want!”. This remark was addressed to the members of opposition, who blocked the rostrum in Parliament.

The second place was given to Raisa Bogatyriova with her ardent speech: “Donetsk oblast is a hospitable land. When people come to us with open heart, we are always happy. But if the intentions are bad – the Donetsk is severe”.

Yushchenko got only 3.1%. His propositions: “The first step – to listen to the information of the ministers of force structures and of education. The second step – to form a special investigating commission. The third step – to conduct the closed sitting of the Supreme Rada on the political situation”.

As always, journalists were interested in the opinions of coordinator of the majority Stepan Gavrish -- 5.6%; leader of communists Petro Simonenko – 5.2%; communist Sergiy Kriuchkov – 4.6%; member of the social-democratic party Nestor Shufrich – 4.4%; Oleksandr Volkov – 3.5% and President’s representative Oleksandr Zadorozhny – 2.8%. The floor was also given to some other representatives of the opposition: leader of socialists Oleksandr Moroz (2.7%); members of “Our Ukraine” Yuri Kostenko and Igor Ostash (2.7% each) and socialist Valentina Semeniuk (2.6%).

All in all, the opposition managed, for the first time during many months, to run the informational blockade. The share of the attention to the opposition increased up to one third on all TV channels except “YT-1”. Yet, such “informational progress” is not so good as it seems: almost all information about the opposition was negative.

The greatest amount of ironical or negative information concerned “Our Ukraine” (7.2%).

Along with Yushchenko’s block, the TV channels also mentioned the following political parties:

CPU – 6.2% positive or neutral mentioning and 1.3% ironical-negative;

PPU-TU – 1.3% and 0%, respectively;

SDPU (u) – 4.5% and 0.8%;

Regions of Ukraine – 5.5% and 0%;

SPU – 5.0% and 1.5%;

Yulia Timoshenko’s Bloc – 2.0% and 0.5%;

PNP– 1% and 0%.

As to the political figures, Bogatyriova and Grishchenko were represented neutrally; Yanukovich, Simonenko, Gavrish and Litvin -- almost neutrally; Vasylyev, Yushchenko and Moroz – negatively.

In general, the news are biased. In comparison with October, in November the part of such “one-sided” news has become greater – 84%. 93% of news on “YT-1” reflect only one point of view. The corresponding numbers for other channels are: “Inter” – 88%, “ICTV” – 83%, “1+1” – 81%, “Novy kanal” – 79% and “STB” –73%.

And last but not least. Now the topic of coming Presidential election becomes more and more popular. At the same time, the proportion of “good” news also increases, especially on “YT-1” and “Inter” – more than 40%.

Maybe, this is a coincidence? Or we will copy the situation that formed in Russia before the election, when it seemed that all criminals were caught and the ruling party was doing its best to improve the life of people?

(«Ukrainska Pravda», 9 December 2003)

Restrictions of the access to information


Coercive subscription to the state and communal editions in the Vinnitsa oblast


Our governor Viktor Kotsemir knows only two types of newspapers: “correct” and “opposition”.

In his letter No. 01-1-43-5903 of 14 November 2003 the governor wrote: “I ask to guarantee the subscription for state and communal oblast editions at your enterprise…” This looks as an entreaty, is not it? But the phrase “I ask to report about the fulfillment of this errand to the control department of the oblast state administration before 1 December 2003” does not looks so.

The newspaper “Podoliya” is at the top of the list of the “correct” newspapers, which are vitally important for a state employee. It is followed by “Vinnichina”, “Panorama”, “Uriadovy kuryer” and “Golos Ukrainy”.

The report must include: the number of copies of all newspapers, to which the organization subscribed, and the number of people working in this organization. Besides, it must be specified how many workers subscribed for these editions individually. The same information must be given about every department of the organization.

 (“33 kanal”, Vinnitsa, No. 50, 10 December 2003)

* * *

Our readers and our colleagues from the districts communicate to us their stories about the coercive subscription. The workers of a post office are forced to subscribe for the communal newspaper “Podoliya”. A nurse from Oratov phoned to us and told that the administration of her hospital made the medics to subscribe to the medical newspaper “Medicina Vinnichiny”.

The collective of the newspaper of the Barska district administration got the order to subscribe for 15 copies of the newspaper “Podilskiy kray”. Well, this is not the end of the joke. The matter is that only 10 persons work in the newspaper.

All these demands are illegal. Do not be afraid to say “no” and to bring a suit against the officials, who abuse their power. We will support you.

Let us struggle together for our only freedom – the freedom in choosing. The newspaper “33 kanal” turns to the directorate in charge of the press and information and to the health directorate of the oblast state administration with the demand to give explanations about this situation.

(“33 kanal”, Vinnitsa, No. 43, 22 October 2003)

Restrictions of the access to information


Journalists were not admitted to the conference of the collegium of the oblast administration (Sumy)


Oleksiy Zakharchenko:

The conference of the collegium of the oblast state administration on the results of the complex check of the work of town executive committee was held in the town ofKonotop, the Sumy oblast. However, journalists of the majority of local editions had the opportunity to observe this conference only from outdoors, since they were not admitted to the building. Only representatives of the newspaper “Konotopskiy kray” and the TRC “Konotop”, which are financed from the town budget, were let in.

The Internet edition “Dankor online” states that the officials violated Articles 26 and 34 of the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media (the press) in Ukraine” and Article 47 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”.

(“Politichna Ukraina”, 11 December 2003,

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media


Two years ago the TV channels controlled by V. Medvedchuk got the first “temnik”


“Temnik” is a document containing the recommendations about the elucidation of the most important events in social and political life of the country.

Almost a year ago such “plans” of journalists’ work were discussed at the Parliamentary hearings, where they were acknowledged to be a form of censorship. “Temniks” were also strictly criticized by the PACE and other European institutions.

Yet, the “temniks” did not disappear, they just changed the form. The demands became less categorical, for example: “this topic is very important and urgent”, “we ask to comment this event in details”, etc.

Yesterday “Ukrainska Pravda” got an interesting document signed by Vasylyev, the head of the Main directorate of informational policy. The short letter is addressed to “press-secretaries, heads of press-services, heads of PR departments of oblast administrations and Sevastopol town administration, to head of the Committee in charge of information of the Crimean Autonomous Republic”.

It is noteworthy that the Kyiv city administration was not included into the list of addressees. Apparently, the metropolitan power has “a special status” regulated, in this case, not by laws, but by the personality of the city mayor. Certainly, Omelchenko would be not be pleased with such a letter.

The document is very short, so we will adduce it completely: “Respected colleagues! We want to present to your attention the articles published on 3 December in the newspaper “Diplomaticheskiy mir”: “Azarov: shadow economy recedes, the home investments increased twice” and “If Proshenko were the “minister of truth”…”, in which the actual questions of internal politics are elucidated”. Further the two mentioned articles were quoted.

The newspaper “Diplomaticheskiy mir” is published by the printing house “Fokus sobytiy” in Russian with participation of the General directorate in charge of foreign representations.

It is interesting that the articles were quoted not only in Russian, but also in the Ukrainian translation.

Well, the respect of the officials to the Ukrainian language is praiseworthy, especially when it is connected with paper work of the state organs. Yet, the articles were published in Russian. And, naturally, all officials, from Donetsk to Lviv, know the Russian language.

So, Mr. Vasylyev’s agency wasted the efforts for the translation vainly, especially if to take into account the fact that the articles were distributed only “for perfunctory familiarization”.

According to the Constitution, Presidential Administration is a consultative auxiliary organ at the President of Ukraine. This organ must assist the President in his work, and nothing else!

Instead of this the “translators” from the President’s office concentrate the attention of regional PR departments on the interview of first vice-Prime-Minister Azarov and… the transcript of the wiretapped talk of MP Poroshenko with manager of “5 kanal” Lisovskiy.

In the context of the informational war aimed at discrediting of Yushchenko and his brothers-in-arms, it should be logical to publish the records in the “tamed” mass media, for example, “1+1”.

There is another question: what connection with all this has the Presidential Administration? Undoubtedly, any official from the Presidential Administration or an oblast state administration has the right, as every other person, to be interested in sex, criminal events and political scandals. But how the familiarization with such information may assist to the President in his work? After all, the letter was not private, it was written on the letterhead of the Presidential Administration…

The Main directorate of informational policy of the Presidential Administration for the umpteenth time refused to comment to “Ukrainska pravda” the appearance of new “temnik”.

(“Ukrainska pravda”, 11 December 2003)

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media


Mykola Tomenko: five questions about the freedom of speech to President Leonid Kuchma – the open letter


Respected President Kuchma!

Your attitude to the freedom of speech in Ukraine is known. It is determined laconically and exactly in the book “Ukraine is not Russia”: “Nothing can make me to encroach on the freedom of the press”.

However, lately the heads of mass media and journalists turn, more and more frequently, to the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information with the complaints against the actions of the Presidential Administration and Yanukovich’s government. The main reason of the resentment is that the Administration and government are meddling into the activities of mass media referring to your decisions.

In this connection many experts and journalists again began to call you “enemy of the press No. 1 in Ukraine”. In order to disprove this opinion, I ask you to answer the following five questions about the present attitude of the Ukrainian President to the problems of mass media in our country.

I want to point out that your position is very important not only for me, as the head of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, but also for journalists and common Ukrainian citizens.

Did you really prohibit to the First national TV channel the direct broadcasting of the Parliamentary debates with participation of the opposition? Is it true that you control personally the quantity of positive mentions by mass media of Oleksandr Moroz, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko? Is it true that you make the administration of the TV channel “1+1” to transmit the feature “Prote”, which you consider to be the most objective TV feature?

Do you begin your workday from reading the materials of the so-called “analytical” Internet editions notorious for publication of openly cynical and false information about the activities of the opposition? (On 26 November 2003 some Ukrainian TV channels showed the reportage about your working day in the hospital “Feofaniya”, and these materials were on your table). I do not know whether you get all information from these editions or read other mass media too. Yet, by words of the workers of Presidential Administration, just the reading of such “analytical” Internet editions inspires you to your service activities.

Did you actually prohibit to the members of the National Council of Ukraine in charge of TV and radio broadcasting to vote for deprivation of licenses of the TV organizations, which committed the violations of the laws of Ukraine, in particular, showed the advertising of alcoholic drinks in the daytime, demonstrated films without the permission of the Ministry of Culture and retransmitted the features prohibited in the civilized countries; of the FM-radio stations that broadcasted the “criminal” songs popularizing violence and cruelty?

Did you order the Tax Administration of Ukraine not to check the mass media, loyal to you, which concealed their profits from publication of advertisements, but to check the mass media that criticized you?

I ask you to answer personally, but not through V. Medvedchuk, the head of the Presidential Administration, as you did before, since, as I have already written, the position of Leonid Kuchma, the guarantor of the Constitution, is very important for the entire Ukrainian people.

Sincerely yours, Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information

(1 December 2003, “Ukrainska pravda”, )

Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media


Printing of the newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden” is still forbidden


The attempts to prevent the publication of the newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden” in the Nikolayev oblast are becoming more and more scandalous.

Some strangers stole a part of the run of the previous issue of the newspaper, which contained the materials telling that the Nikolayev oblast newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden” was the only Ukrainian newspaper that got to “temniks”.

All in all, 156 Ukrainian newspapers dared to criticize the power. And the prohibition, under some unconvincing pretext, to print “Ukrainskiy Pivden” demonstrates the intolerance of the oblast power to the freedom of speech.

“Ukrainskiy Pivden” is supported by the commission of the Nikolayev oblast council in charge of the local self-government, openness and relations with mass media, as well as a number of editions, which wrote about the arbitrary actions against the newspaper, the Supreme Rada committee for fighting the organized crime and corruption, the Supreme Rada committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information and the Supreme Rada committee of human rights.

(“Maydan-INFORM, 10 December, 20:44)

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


Court process Chobit vs. Medvedchuk


Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine and the leader of the SDPU (u), cancelled 12 items of his claim about the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation against the author and publishers of the book “Narcissus. The political portrait of Viktor Medvedchuk”. Copies of the application were distributed by claimant’s attorneys among journalists. The application reads: “For the purpose of making our demands more exact, we ask to exclude items 56-67 from the claim”.

By the words of Dmytro Chobit, the author of the book, all deleted items concerned the section “Political businessman”. Viktor Medvedchuk demanded to recognize 99 episodes as inauthentic and to levy from the author, publisher and publishing house the compensation of moral damage equal to 1 million hryvnas.

 («Vechernie vesti», No. 182, 2 December 2003,

«Slovo Prosvity». No. 49, 3-9 December 2003)

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


Newspaper “Press-shans” (Krasny Luch, the Donetsk oblast) won a legal action


The newspaper “Press-shans” won an action brought against the editorial board by former MP Dmitriy Petrenko. This information was given by Sergey Voloshin, the editor-in-chief of “Press-shans”.

The collegium of judges of the court chamber in charge of civil cases of the Supreme Court of Ukraine did not satisfy the cassation of the MP against the decision of the Krasny Luch town court on his claim about the protection of honor dignity and business reputation, and the compensation of moral damage against Leonid Glukhovskiy, the manager of the company “Pressa”, and Sergey Voloshin, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Press-chans”.

Dmitriy Petrenko demanded to recompense him the moral damage equivalent to 100 thousand hryvnas inflicted with the phrase: “Our town, as well as the Perevalskiy district, did not derive any benefit from the election of Dmitriy Petrenko to the Parliament four years ago. Mr. Petrenko heads the Supreme Rada sub-committee in charge of coal-mining industry, and four mines in Krasny Luch were closed during these years”.

Courts of various instances acknowledged this phrase to be true.

("Kontekst-Media", Lugansk, 2 December 2003; «Den», No. 222, 6 December 2003)

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


Lviv officials want to prohibit free reprinting of materials from foreign sources


Oleg Onisko, Andriy Pavlishin:

Newspapers, radio and TV can disappear in Ukraine in the near future. This is not an overstatement. The Lychakivskiy district court of Lviv is going to deprive journalism of one of its bases – the right for reprinting and quoting of other mass media. And this will mean the end of Ukrainian journalism.

The claim of Taras Kozak, the head of the Western regional customs, against “Lvivska gazeta” seemed to be, at first, a strange misunderstanding. We even supposed that some enemies of the customs head instigated him to bring in this suit.

The affair is very simple. On 16 October the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” reprinted the article of journalist Petr Koscinski from the Polish weekly “Rzecz Pospolita”, which article described the situation in Lviv. We based on the right envisaged by the Constitution: the freedom of speech and the right for distribution of information.

Our rights are also confirmed by the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media (the press) of Ukraine”, which clearly reads: “editorial board and journalist are nor responsible for publication of the information […], if […] this information is a verbal quotation of the materials published by other mass medium, with the reference to it […]”.

Yet, it seems that the Lychakivskiy district court neglects this law. The town, which is proud of the freedom of the press (on the background of the entire situation in Ukraine), can become a burial ground of the freedom of speech.

On 28 November we had the opportunity to make sure of that.

Advocate O. Kalishevich, who “specializes” in rendering of the legal aid to the “offended” representatives of the SDPU (u), justified our worst expectations. The tactics used by him carried the letter of the law to the point of absurdity. The claim ignored the fact of reprint until the moment, when the judges produced officially the original of the Polish edition with the vexed article. Then the advocate somewhat changed his tactics: he tried to persuade the court that “Lvivska gazeta” has published not verbal quotation, but the literary translation.

All in all, the advocates of T. Kozak are ignoring the fact that the publication in “Lvivska gazeta” was the verbal translation of the material from “Rzecz Pospolita”. This is confirmed by the reference to the source, use of the logotype of the Polish newspaper and the special font used by “Lvivska gazeta” for reprints from other mass media. Eventually, Petr Koscinski, a well-known Polish journalist, who specializes in Ukrainian problems and frequently visits Lviv and Kyiv, gave his oral consent to the reprinting and is ready to confirm that.

Head of the Lychakivskiy court Mr. Goretskiy, who chaired this trial, rejected all petitions presented by the lawyers of “Lvivska gazeta”, in particular, the petitions about the summon of the translator to court and the conduction of textual expertise.

Instead of this the judge endorsed the proposition of Kalishevich to summon to the next court sitting the specialist in Polish language, who would prove that the translation was not exact. Yet, this peculiarity is very demonstrative. An author of expert conclusion would be strictly punished for its falsity, and a specialist, who testifies in court, has much more opportunities for casuistry and his amenability is less serious.

By the way, judge Goretskiy is notorious among Lviv journalists. On 31 March 2000 he approved “one of the most absurd decisions in the history of legal proceedings against mass media in the independent Ukraine. The case was connected with the publication by the newspaper “Ekspress” of a small (12-lines) critical note on the page “Culture”. The judge obliged the newspaper to pay 150 thousand hryvnas of the moral compensation” (citation from “The official appeal of the newspaper “Ekspress”” published, in particular, on the Internet page “Action of independent journalists”). This decision, which was reconsidered later by the courts of the higher instance, evoked the decisive and active protest of Ukrainian journalists, who, on 13 April 2000, started the action of civil disobedience called “The wave of freedom”.

The court process, which concerns three phrases containing, in the Polish original, only 36 words, seems nonsensical. Yet, the resolution against the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” may become a precedent with far-reaching and very unpleasant consequences.

The right to reprint (quote) is a key concept of journalism. This right is exercised by everybody – from the agency Reuters to village newspapers. TV-men throughout the world transmit the films shoot by BBC or other companies, radio stations cite newspapers and on the contrary.

The court prohibition of reprinting from the editions published in the Polish, Russian, English or Chinese language, or the demand to check the authenticity of such sources, will nullify all achievements in the sphere of the freedom of speech in Ukraine. Yet, nobody cancelled the juridical norm, which prohibits to restrict the legal rights of citizens. Maybe judge Goretskiy wants to activate the struggle of Ukrainian people for the freedom of speech?

("Lvivska gazeta", 3 December 2003)

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


Kyiv Appeal Court satisfied the claim of advocates A. Fedur and V. Ageev against former General Prosecutor S. Piskun and the newspaper “2000”


On 12 December 2003 the Appeal Court of Kyiv read out the resolution on the appeal of advocate Andrey Fedur against the court decision on the suit of Fedur against former General Prosecutor S. Piskun and the newspaper “2000”.

We want to remind that the case was instituted in the connection with the following events. In an interview to the newspaper “2000” (issue of 6 September 2002) General Prosecutor of Ukraine Sviatoslav Piskun, who is known as a very truthful man, answered a question about the grounds for the detention of A. Fedur in Lugansk. Piskun said: “He was driving a stolen car, which had been hijacked and was wanted by militia”.

Besides, Piskun told in the same interview: “It is known that judges more than once sent the appeals to the collegium of advocates about the deprivation of Fedur and his colleague Ageev of the licenses for advocate activities because of the disrespect for the court showed by them during the trial. Both advocates used to insult the judges. And, if the judges wanted to remove Fedur and Ageev from the trial, they could do it much earlier. Yet, the advocates were not deprived of the licenses, they only were summoned to the collegium twice and warned about the necessity to keep within the law”.

These statements by Piskun were absolutely mendacious. Fedur never drove a stolen car, and his Jeep was never hijacked or wanted by militia. Advocates Fedur and Ageev never committed the violations of advocate ethics or showed disrespect to court, they got no warnings from either the collegium of advocates or other advocate organizations.

Immediately after the publication of this interview Andrey Fedur turned to court. The advocate demanded the publication of the refutation by the General Prosecutor’s office and apologies.

The court attached the issue of the newspaper “2000” with the mentioned interview of Piskun to the materials of the case. By the way, another defendant, the newspaper “2000”, has already published the refutation of the information spread by S. Piskun.

However, Zhanna Bernatskaya, a notorious judge of the Pecherskiy district court, rejected the claim of A. Fedur, since, according to the court decision, THE CLAIMANT COULD NOT PROVE THAT THE DEFENDANT REALLY SPREAD THE ABOVE-MENTIONED INFORMATION.

So, the judge “did not notice” the facts that the newspaper was attached to the case materials as a proof, that a representative of the newspaper confirmed the fact of publication and that the newspaper even had time to publish the refutation of this information.

The Appeal Court agreed with the arguments adduced by A. Fedur in his appeal and acknowledged that judge Bernatskaya brutally violated the legislation. The Appeal Court resolved to pass the case to the court of the first instance for consideration by another composition of judges.

On 1 July 2003 advocate A. Fedur sent the appeal to the Supreme Rada, in which the advocate stated: the activities of judge Zhanna Bernadska evidenced that she was unworthy of being elected to judge’s post for term of life.

(Lawyers company “Ageev, Berezhnoy and partners”, )

(“Prava ludyny” (Ukrainian version), Kharkov, No. 34, 1-15 December 2003)

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


Claim against the Poltava media club and Ludmila Kucherenko


The Appeal court of the Poltava oblast rejected the appeal of the center of cable TV “Satelit” (managed by Yu. Tsomartov) and upheld the decision of the local Poltava court, which declined the claim against the Poltava media club and Ludmila Kucherenko on recompensing the moral damage. The company “Satelit” wanted to collect 21 thousand hryvnas from the plaintiffs, but failed: the court did not recognize the statements in the newspaper “Novy Den” as ones that discredited his business reputation.

 (“The Poltava media club”, No. 59, 2 December 2003)

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

02.01.2004 | Oleksiy Svetikov

Court protection of the freedom of speech (Lugansk)


In 2003 the juridical service of the Lugansk oblast branch of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine took part in eight legal actions (5 – in Severodonetsk and 3 – in Rubezhnoe local courts). We represented the interests of mass media and citizens, against whom the claims had been handed for the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation after publication of their materials in newspapers. Four cases were completed (all of them – in favor of mass media) and court decisions came into force; the consideration of two more cases is still lasting; the appeal was handed against one decision of the Rubezhnoe local court; one decision of the same court was reversed and the case was returned to court.

Some results and conclusions:

The great part of the legal proceedings, in which we took part (7 out of 8), was caused by critical publications in mass media directed against the power or political opposition. At that both the power and opposition used the same tricks in their claims: strained complaints and demands on recompensing the moral damage exceeding the limits of common sense. So, the total sum of the demanded moral compensation in these 8 cases was 1121400 hryvnas. However, the motivation of the demands is different: representatives of the power try, in that way, to bankrupt the disloyal mass media, and representatives of the opposition – to inform the public about their “abused rights”. The most interesting from this viewpoint is the claim of K. Koziuberda, the leader of the Rubezhnoe organization of the PSPU, against the editorial board of the communal newspaper “Rubezhanski novyny” and the editorial board of the newspaper “Visnyk barvnyka”. The demanded sum of moral compensation was 1 million hryvnas. The claim was handed in the connection with publication (verbal) in these newspapers of the open letter of the MP with his signature.

As a rule, the sums of moral compensation in the claims in mass media are substantiated by the arguments that the publication allegedly inflicted damage to health; sometimes these arguments are confirmed with medical certificates presented by the plaintiffs to court. We believe that it is impossible to prove the cause-effect relation between the fact of publication and the exacerbation of a chronic disease. Yet, it is also impossible to prove the opposite. So, even if such certificates were issued as a result of the disease (but not got for money or by knowing the right people), the arguments about the illness must be regarded as the manipulations, a priori evidencing about the dishonest intentions of the claimants. And if the court takes the decision about the levy of moral compensation grounding on the exacerbation of a disease of the plaintiff as a result of the considered publication, the appeal should be handed against such decision.

In any of the cases the plaintiffs did not use properly the opportunity to regulate the conflict extrajudicially in accordance with Article 37 of the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media”. We reckon that this fact evidences that the protection of honor was not the main goal of these claims. Two claims handed by the authorities against the editorial board of the newspaper “Tretiy sector” are very demonstrative from this point of view. After the publication in the December issue of this newspaper of the critical material, these persons sent a letter to the editorial board with the demand to publish the refutation, but they did not wrote what information had to be refuted. The editorial board immediately directed the response, in which they asked to specify what information they had to refute or to give them the text of refutation. The editorial board guaranteed that this text would be published. Instead of that the authorities turned to court with the demand to recompense them the moral damage equal to 5 thousand hryvnas for every article. We want to point out that, according to part 1 Article 17 of Law of Ukraine “On state support of mass media and social protection of journalists”, the court has the right to reject the demand about the moral compensation, if the authorities did not use the opportunity of extrajudicial regulation of the conflict.

In our opinion, extrajudicial regulation in accordance with Article 37 of the Law of Ukraine “On printed mass media” and Article 43 of the Law “On TV and radio broadcasting” is the most civilized way of settling conflicts connected with the balance of the rights to the freedom of speech and to the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. Such form of regulation is, by its form, compensative, but not repressive, it gives the opportunity of rehabilitation to the victim not only in the case of distribution of information, but also in cases of distribution of ungrounded evaluations. Besides, such practice gives the opportunity to mass media to avoid the excessive risk connected with mistakes. Unfortunately, this form of regulation almost is not applied in our country now.

The latter fact does not seem very strange, since the majority of the claims against mass media, in which our organization took part, had the repressive character and were directed not at the protection of honor or business reputation violated by spreading of some concrete information, but at persecution of mass media. One of such claims was the claim of Ms. Protopopova, the head of the Severodonetsk executive committee department of the reception of citizens, against the newspaper “Tretiy sektor”. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information, made public by the newspaper, that she had refused to accept the notification about a public meeting. According to Protopopova’s claim, on 19 November some people really brought a notification about public meeting to her, but she did not know how to accept it. While she tried to learn how to do that, the woman, who brought the notification, allegedly went away. So, Protopopova asked the court to recognize the information that she did not accept the notification as untrue. Naturally, she wanted to get the compensation of moral damage equal to 3000 hryvnas.

In our opinion, it was clear from the writ that the information published by the newspaper was true. In the course of court session it was established that Protopopova refused to accept the notification for three times. Of course, the court did not satisfy the claim.

Another problem is the ascertainment of distinction between the evaluative judgments and spread information. According to part 2 Article 47-1 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, an evaluative judgment (except insult or libel) is a statement that does not contain the factual data, in particular criticism or estimates of actions, as well as the statement, which may not be regarded as containing the factual data because of using the hyperboles, allegories or satire. Evaluative judgments must not be refuted and their authenticity must not be proved. Besides, judges not always take into account the fact that, according to Article 7 of the Civil Code, not all information concerning the claimant must be refuted, but only the information discrediting his honor and dignity. So, the appeal was handed against the decision of the Rubezhnoe court on the claim of the leaders of one of town party organizations against the newspaper “Rubezhanski novyny”. The matter is that, in our opinion, 3 out of 7 statements, which had to be refuted according to this decision, were evaluative judgments and 3 more did not discredit honor and dignity.

We also more than once observed the cases, where the plaintiffs took personally the information, which was not connected with them directly. Twice the department heads of the organs of local self-government handed the claims in the connection with publication of critical materials about their departments (the names or posts of these persons were not mentioned in the materials). We believe that a physical person may not be the claimant in such cases, but in the both cases the court did not agree with this.

The methods of the protection of mass media has essentially improved after 13 May 2003, when the Law of Ukraine “On introduction of changes into some legal acts of Ukraine in the sphere of guaranteeing and unimpeded realization of citizens’ right to the freedom of speech” came into effect. Another important change is the introduction of the progressive scale of due for bringing in the claims on recompensing the moral damage; introduction of the restrictions of the opportunity of collecting the compensations on the claims handed by power organs and state officials; definition of the concept “evaluative judgment” and some other terms. This law should protect mass media from the arbitrary actions directed, in fact, not at the protection of honor or business reputation, but at persecution of mass media

The work of our organization in courts evidence that the opportunities for the protection of mass media from unjust claims have improved during last year, but mass media still need the assistance of competent lawyers. Another serious problem is not solved yet: there is no mechanism of protection of mass media from the expenses connected with their participation in trials. Therefore such claims can be used as a tool for creating obstacles in the work of mass media, even if journalists would win these cases.

(“Politichna Ukraina”, 13 December 2003, )

Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases


New General Prosecutor Gennadiy Vasylyev ordered to institute the criminal case against journalist Volodymir Boyko


For the third time during last 18 months the Donetsk journalist became the accused in the criminal case, which had been closed more than once because of the absence of corpus delicti.

The criminal case against Boyko was instituted by V. Boychuk, the prosecutor of the Kujbyshevskiy district of Donetsk, on 10 May 2002 after the publication in the Internet edition “Ukraina kriminalna” of Boyko’s article, in which the author told about the morbid interest of MP G. Vasylyev to other’s property. The order to punish the journalist was given to tax inspection. The officers of tax militia detained Boyko in the office of the Donetsk newspaper “Salon” and sent him to custody for 10 days on suspicion of dodging from paying taxes. Yet, on 9 August the law-enforcers had to close the case because of the absence of corpus delicti in the actions of V. Boyko. A week later the Appeal court of the Donetsk oblast recognized that the detainment of journalist was illegal, and after several more days Boyko got the certificate from tax inspection about the absence of the criminal event.

Two months after these events Boyko made the series of reportages from Lugansk, in which reportages he elucidated the course of “Feldman’s case” fabricated by Piskun. The General Prosecutor’s office, headed by the main “personage” of these publications, reversed the decision about the closure of the case and passed it for investigation to tax militia of the Lugansk (!) oblast. In spite of the tremendous efforts of the investigating officer, in March 2003 the case was closed again. And again because of the absence of corpus delicti.

Yet, the journalist did not draw the proper conclusions and published in “Ukraina kriminalna” and in the Donetsk newspaper “Ostrov” the article about the illegal business of Gennadiy Vasylyev. At once after the publication of the article, on 7 November a stranger phoned to Boyko and promised “to beat his brains out” for his professional activities. On 10 November several tough young men came to the building, which had been rented by the editorial board of “Ostov” several days before, and asked about the new address of the edition. On the next day the head of the technological department of the publishing house “Donetchina, which printed the newspaper, informed the editor-in-chief that the next issue of the newspaper would be printed only after the deletion of Boyko’s article from it. The editor refused from the censorship. On 12 November the publishing house refused to print the edition. The issue was printed in other printing shop, but at night the part of the run, which had to be distributed through post offices of the Donetsk oblast, was bought by strangers.

The militia did not inform V. Boyko on the results of consideration of his complaint about the threats, and MP Yu. Lutsenko had to interfere in the situation. After this interference, 20 days after the threats, the law-enforcers refused to start the criminal case. Yu. Lyshenko, the head of the Kyivskiy district militia precinct of Donetsk, informed the journalist that there was no corpus delicti in the actions of the stranger, since the threats “to beat the brains out” were connected with journalist’s professional activities, and Article 129 of the Criminal Code (threatening with murder) did not envisage any responsibility for this.

However, G. Vasylyev resolved to complete the case of V. Boyko. At first his elder brother, the head of the tax administration in the Donetsk oblast, declared, through his representative, that he did not acknowledge the court decision about the illegality of Boyko’s detention and reckoned that the prosecutor’s office and tax militia were absolutely right holding the journalist in the prison. On 27 November 2003 it became known that the General Prosecutor’s office for the umpteenth time cancelled the resolution about the closure of the criminal case started 18 months ago against V. Boyko. This means that the journalist became an accused again, and can be sent to custody at any moment. By the way, he was not even informed about the repeated opening of the case.

It is noteworthy that, as early as in February 2003, Boyko appealed to court against the resolution about the institution of the criminal case, but the decision on this appeal is not issued until now, although such cases must be considered immediately. The journalist complained to the council of judges, to O. Kondratyev, the head of the Appeal court of the Donetsk oblast, and to the General Prosecutor’s office. Yet, V. Boyko gets the answers that the court cannot consider his complaint and to solve the question about the illegality of institution of the criminal case because the prosecutor’s office refuses to present the materials of the case.

("Svoboda", No. 47, 2-8 December 2003)

Violations of privacy


Global monitoring in telecommunication networks


Human rights protectors and politologists point out the inconsistency between the propositions of the USS about the introduction of the global system of monitoring in telecommunication networks and human rights, in particular, the right for privacy of correspondence. The draft of the law does not mention this right at all, it only reads that the rights and freedoms are guaranteed by the state. The document envisages neither the conditions, under which the monitoring may be realized, nor the maximal permissible term of such monitoring. This is, allegedly, envisaged by other laws. Indeed, the draft contains the norm that the permission for the collection of information from telecommunication channels must be issued by court. Yet, the experts reckon that this procedure is not regulated properly.

Now the court warrant for the collection of information from telecommunication channels is issued on the basis of the Letter of the Supreme Court of 1996, where only general principles of giving such permissions are stipulated. Besides, this letter may not be regarded as valid, since it was not registered in the Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian courts actively apply this doubtful, from the juridical point of view, document. More than 40 thousand warrants for the collection of information from telecommunication channels by law-enforcing organs were issued during 2002. According to human rights protectors, this is much more than the similar number in Western countries.

Politologists mention one more possible purpose of the USS initiatives: to control the political activities. Representatives of the opposition are partly right in their opinion that the interception of information from the Internet and telephone lines will be used in the interests of concrete political forces, and this is especially important on the eve of Presidential election.

 ("Pervaya Krymskaya", 5-11 December 2003)

Violations of privacy


More than 40 thousand permissions for the collection of information from telecommunication channels were issued by Ukrainian courts in 2002


This number is much more than the similar number in other countries. These data were made public by Evhen Zakharov, the head of the Kharkov group for human rights protection, at the public hearings of the law draft “On monitoring of telecommunications”, which was held on Wednesday. The maximal number of such permissions (about 4000) were issued, by his words, in the Kharkov oblast.

“722 criminal groups were disclosed in 2002. These groups included 3.2 thousand persons, who committed 6.5 thousand crimes. 653 persons were condemned for organization of crimes committed by criminal groups. All in all, 41 persons were brought to criminal responsibility. 51 criminal groups (237 persons) were uncovered in the Kharkov oblast. The number of the condemned in the oblast during the year was 3793, and the number of issued permissions for the collection of information was 4000. This is incomprehensible”, said the human rights protector.

Mr. Zakharov reminded that the monitoring might be realized only after the court decision for the investigation of grave or especially grave crimes.

According to E. Zakharov, the procedure of issuing the court permission is realized on the basis of Letter No. 16/6 of the Supreme Court of 1996. This letter does not envisage the maximal period of the monitoring, and this is one of the main elements of similar legal documents in other countries. Moreover, the letter was not registered in the Ministry of Justice, so, according to Article 57 of the Constitution of Ukraine, it may not be regarded as valid. Thus, the courts apply the document of doubtful political validity.

("Zerkalo nedeli", No. 46, 29 November-5 December 2003)

Informational security


The authorities got the legal opportunity to close the Internet editions “for terrorism and menace to the state”


The Law “On introduction of changes into some laws of Ukraine” introduces changes to the Laws of Ukraine “On information”, “On printed mass media (the press) in Ukraine” and “On publishing activities”, informs Olena Gromnitska, the press-secretary of the Ukrainian President.

The Law, which was approved by the Supreme Rada on 18 November, took the effect from the day of its publication. The document forbids the distribution, with the use of the objects of informatization sphere, of the appeals aimed at capture of state property, coercive change of the constitutional regime, infringement of territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.

Besides, it prohibits to spread the information containing the propaganda of terrorism, war, genocide, violence and cruelty, as well as the information, which discredits people by race, political, religious and other views, sex, ethnic or social origin, property status, language, etc.

The law prohibits to spread the information, which can inflict damage to honor, dignity or business reputation of individuals, the information containing the coarse invectives and the information of the pornographic character.

Besides, it is banned to use printed mass media for the appeals to the commitment of terrorist acts.

The activities in the sphere of informatization are determined as the aggregate of actions connected with creation, distribution, use, storage, collection and processing of the objects of informatization sphere (informational technologies, products and resources), as well as rendering of services connected with the use of these objects.

(“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 61, 11 December 2003)

Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression


On the work of the Voters’ Committee of Ukraine (Lugansk oblast)


The Voters’ Committee of Ukraine is realizing in five oblasts of Ukraine, including the Lugansk oblast, the pilot program of public consultations directed at rendering free legal aid to voters, first of all, in courts. The term of the fulfillment of the program is June-December 2003. The program is financially supported by the Mott foundation.

One of the priority tasks of the program is the protection of political rights, first of all, the rights stated by Articles 10 and 11 of the International Convention on human rights.

In what follows we want to describe one case.

Claim of N. Protopopova, the head of the Severodonetsk executive committee department of the reception of citizens, against the newspaper “Tretiy sektor”.

The claim was connected with the publication of the material “Referendumofobia”, in which it was described how, on 19 November 2002, four town dwellers tried to hand to the executive committee the notification about a public meeting. The notification was accepted neither by the department of citizens’ appeals, nor in the general department, nor in the organizational department. The claimant believed that the newspaper had spread the untrue information thus inflicting to her the moral damage equal to 3000 hryvnas. According to Protopopova’s claim, on 19 November some people really brought a notification about public meeting to her, but she did not know how to accept it. While she tried to learn how to do that, the woman, who brought the notification, allegedly went away.

During the trial the citizens, who had brought the notification, and the workers of the executive committee were interrogated. The court established that on 19 November these citizens tried to hand the notification to N. Protopopova three times during 40 minutes, but she refused to accept the document saying that she had to familiarize with the corresponding normative documents. On 30 June 2003 the Severodonetsk court decided that the information spread by the newspaper was true and refused to satisfy the claim. The plaintiff did not appeal against the decision.

(The Voters’ Committee of Ukraine, the Lugansk oblast branch)

Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, №12

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