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Media Union: MPs are promoting police lawless treatment of journalists


The Independent Media Union of Ukraine reports that two shameful events have coincided time-wise.  The draft law № 8256, on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code on affirming journalists’ right to not reveal their sources which had previously been put off twice has now been withdrawn altogether. The Union says that this means that an influential percentage of MPs have an interest in preserving the present situation where the police demand that journalists reveal the source of their information, and behave with arbitrary lawlessness if the journalists refuse.  Telekritika reports that the MPs say that the law was removed because of the new draft Criminal Procedure Code. Why change the old one, if there’s going to be a new one, is the argument given.

The other shameful event(s) were reported yesterday and certainly highlight the problem which the Union addresses.

Gazeta.ua reported that as a result of two reports posted on their site about criminal investigations over damage to Yanukovych billboards in Lviv and the Rivne region, their journalists had been questioned by police. 

One of the situations was particularly disturbing.  The freelance journalist who sent the article - Yevhen Borisov – was called in for questioning on 20 January. He alleges that the questioning went on for around 4 hours and began with the investigator asking whether Borisov knows how people are tortured in police custody. According to the journalist, the investigator then went on to tell him about such has already been called in for questioning. He says that the “conversation” on 20 January lasted around 4 hours, and asserts that the first question which the investigator asked was “Do you know how people are tortured in the police?”   According to Boris, the investigator then proceeded to tell him, and advised him to confess to daubing the billboard with paint so as to write about it first and become well-known in that way.  That way the police in their turn could terminate the investigation more quickly.

Yevhen Borisov also stated that the police had taken his mobile phone supposedly to check whether it was not stolen. They gave it back after 30 minutes having copied all the numbers on it. Friends of the journalist have told him that the police are now phoning people from his list of contacts and calling them in for questioning. 

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