Freedom of Expression in Ukraine, 2003, #11
Three fourth of the amount of TV news of six basic Ukrainian TV channels directly concern Ukraine General problems
Competition for the vacancy of ombudspersons representative in charge of the freedom of speech is going on Mass media and election
Electric energy was switched off at the TV company “Krym” Lutsk TV company “Avers” did not give the live broadcast to Viktor Yushchenko Participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship” demanded from top officials to guarantee the unhampered work of journalists during the election campaign-2004 Persecutions, pressure, intimidation, etc. because of political motives
Poltava oblast media club published the White Book of the Poltava journalism (1997-2003) Criminal attempts at journalists
Murders in Obukhiv. Death of journalist Sergiy Khavtura Attack on Igor Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dankor” (Sumy) A correspondent of the newspaper “Fakty i komentarii” was beaten in Odessa Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media
On 11 November the publishing house “Donetchina” refused to print the weekly “Ostrov” Nikolayev oblast publishing house refused to print the all-Ukrainian newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden” Newspaper “VV” will not be sold in the kiosks of the company “Soyuzdruk” Conflicts connected with licensing of electronic mass media
Poltava TV company “UTA” was an alternative to state TV. Now it does not exist “Tax inspection will block the accounts of my company, the communication committee will disconnect us from the frequency, at which we are working. I do not know what methods of struggle with me the law-enforcers will invent” Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation
Claims of Yulia Timoshenko against the TV company “1+1” Kirovograd TV and radio company “TTV” got the resolution of the Supreme Court on the compensation of moral damage equal to 300 thousand hryvnas Another court consideration of the claim of “Lvivska gazeta” against Sergiy Medvedchuk began in the Syhivskiy district court of Lviv Head of the Western regional customs Taras Kozak wants to obtain 86000 hryvnas of compensation from the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” for reprinting a material from the Polish weekly “Rzecz Pospolita” Tatiana Korobovas case in the European Court Editorial board of “Vechernie visti” is the defendant in 13 cases on the total sum of more than one million hryvnas Head of Presidents Administration of Ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk handed the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and on the compensation of moral damage against Oleksandr Moroz and Socialist Party Kherson judge Golovko issued the resolution on the claim of Alena Rotova against the town newspaper “VIK” Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases
Criminal case of Vladimir Boyko (Donetsk) Journalist vs. the Crimean mafia: who will win? Violations of privacy
“The constitutional right of citizens for privacy of correspondence is violated, and the guilty must be punished” Legal principles of the monitoring of telecommunications Parliament started to regulate the Internet The internet
Company “Hostmaster” lost the case in the Economic court of Kyiv 18 November is the doomsday of the Ukrainian Internet Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression
Kyiv independent media trade union will create “the group of fast response”
Three fourth of the amount of TV news of six basic Ukrainian TV channels directly concern Ukraine
Natalya Kostenko, the director of the AUP project “Monitoring of political news of Ukrainian TV channels”, informed that “the most Ukraine-centered TV channels are: the First national channel “YT-1” (84% of news concern Ukraine) and “Novy kanal” (81%), and the least – “1+1” (67%) and “ICTV” (62%)”. According to N. Kostenko this is a stable tendency, which was also observed last year.
Almost a quarter of the total amount of news is transmitted on the First national channel (23%), “1+1” and “Inter” broadcast 18% and 19% of news, respectively, “STB” – 15%, “ICTV” – 13% and “Novy kanal” – 10%. The same situation is observed with the distribution of the time for broadcasting news: “YT-1” – 26%, “1+1” and “Inter” – 18% each, “STB” – 15%, “ICTV” – 12%, “Novy kanal” – 11%.
The proportion of the political and not-political news in the total informational flow is almost equal: 38% and 36%, respectively (at that “Inter” and “Novy kanal” are most politicized – more than 40%).
Only 11% of political news concern the internal events, and 27% are connected with mutual relations between Ukraine and other countries. Moreover, the time of translation of the information about foreign politics is 3.5 times more than the time for internal political news: in other words, the messages about the internal events are usually shorter.
About 25% of the news concerning Ukraine do not contain the references to the sources of information; for political news this number is even more – 29%. The least quantity of such offences is made by the TV channel “STB”: 12%, and the most – by “1+1”: 29%,
Almost 80% of news reflect only one point of view, and only 21% contain two or more viewpoints. By the words of N. Kostenko, in 2002 these numbers were 78% and 22%, respectively.
The assortment of the events on the basic Ukrainian TV channels is almost identical.
The leader of the attention of the news is the supreme executive power, in particular, the President, who is mentioned in every fifth message. At that the information concerning President is, in 99% of cases, positive or neutral, and only 1% of such information is critical or ironical. The local power organs are the most popular objects of criticism among the power institutions – 21% of the messages have the negative tint.
The first week of October (6-11 October) was analyzed in the course of the research. The goal of the project was the study of the dynamics of representing the political news by various TV channels. The duration of the project is 10 months.
The researchers analyzed 35 news features (351 messages) transmitted by six TV channels on primetime (19:00-22:00). They applied the method of content analysis of audiovisual information.
(«Interfax-Ukraine», 5 November 2003, www.interfax.kiev.ua)
Competition for the vacancy of ombudspersons representative in charge of the freedom of speech is going on
("Ukraina moloda", No. 213, 15 November 2003)
Mass media and election
Electric energy was switched off at the TV company “Krym”
Yesterday the forum of the bloc “Our Ukraine” with the participation of Viktor Yushchenko and other MPs was carried out in Simferopol.
On the same day Yushchenko appeared in the live broadcast of the Crimean private TV company “Zhisa”, where the MP answered the questions of TV viewers. He also had to appear at the state TV company “Krym”, but, at the moment when he entered the building of the TV company, the electric energy was switched off in the entire micro-district, where the company was situated. While the trouble was liquidated, Viktor Yushchenko left the studio and the transmission was cancelled.
The administration of the TV company “Krym” refused to meet with journalists and to give any comments. Valentin Kozubskiy, the general manager of the company, said to the representatives of “Telekritika” : “We are forming now our viewpoint on this event, and today I will explain everything on the air”.
(Nikolay Semena, “Telekritika”, 17 November 2003)
Lutsk TV company “Avers” did not give the live broadcast to Viktor Yushchenko
“Members of “Our Ukraine” expressed their sincere regret to Oleg Velichko and wished him to solve all sudden problems as soon as possible. Representatives of the Volyn oblast organization are absolutely sure that the problems of the TV company “Avers” and other mass media will be solved in autumn of 2004. We hope that the professional creative collective of the TV company will also do their best for the improvement of situation”, stated the press service.
(«ForUm», 13.11.2003, www.for-ua.com)
Participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship” demanded from top officials to guarantee the unhampered work of journalists during the election campaign-2004
The Forum was held on 10 November in Kyiv. Journalists from all regions of Ukraine and from abroad, MPs, representatives of foreign diplomatic missions, lawyers and law-enforcers, as well as representatives of power organs, took part in the Forum. The action was organized by the Public Council in charge of the freedom of speech and information, National Union of journalists of Ukraine, Kyiv independent media trade union, Independent Association of TV and radio broadcasters jointly with the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information. The financial support was rendered by the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”.
Resolution of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”
We, participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”, emphasize the necessity of guaranteeing the independent and unhampered work of mass media and journalists during the pre-election period, elimination of all legal, administrative, economic and organizational obstacles concerning the elucidation of the Presidential election campaign-2004. We are aware of the precarious situation connected with the protection of journalists from violence, intimidation and other forms of impediment to their professional activities, so we want to draw the attention of the organs of state power and local self-government to the necessity of observance of the constitutional principles of the freedom of speech and information. We corroborate the conclusions and propositions stated in the Resolution of the Forum of journalists of Ukraine “Legal self-protection” of 10 June 2003, in particular, concerning the violation by the state organs of the Ukrainian laws in the sphere of the protection of journalists from pressure, persecutions, ungrounded court cases, censorship and other forms of impediment to their professional activities. Thus, we RESOLVED to turn to state agencies with the following propositions:
1) To the Supreme Rada of Ukraine:
- to consider and adopt, before 1 January 2004 (the date, when the new Civil Code of Ukraine will come into force), the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On introduction of changes into the Civil and Civil-Procedural Codes of Ukraine (concerning the right for information)” (registration No. 3547), which would be directed to the elimination of drawbacks of the adopted Code;
- to reject the drafts of the Laws of Ukraine “On introduction of changes into some legal acts of Ukraine” (in the sphere of state secrets) (registration No. 2663), “On monitoring of telecommunications” (registration No. 4042) and “On the activities in the sphere of informatization” (registration No. 3038), since these laws endanger the activities of journalists, as well as free circulation and use of electronic information;
- to regulate more clearly and completely the activities of mass media during the Presidential election campaigns by introduction of changes into the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”;
- to regulate legislatively the status and authorities of ombudspersons representative in charge of the freedom of speech and mass media.
2) To the President of Ukraine:
- to put an end to the application by Presidents Administration of the illegal methods of influence on mass media and journalists, in particular, distribution among the leaders of mass media of oral and written instruction concerning the representation of information, contents of informational messages and comments concerning the current events and problems.
3) To the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine:
- to take the appropriate measures for the unhampered access to information needed by journalists for the fulfillment of their professional duty connected with the thorough elucidation of the election campaign-2004;
- to take the appropriate measures for termination of checks conducted by the proper state organs and agencies for the period from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2005;
- to take the appropriate measures for prevention of the illegal closure of mass media or impediment to their activities, in particular in the sphere of publication and distribution of printed mass media.
4) To the Supreme Court of Ukraine:
- to generalize the practices of consideration by courts of the claims on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation handed against mass media and/or journalists, taking into account the last amendments to the Ukrainian legislation and the corresponding practices of the European Court of human rights.
5) To the ombudsperson:
- to guarantee the transparency and openness of the process of the appointment of candidates to the post of Representative in charge of the freedom of speech and mass media, to take into account the position of public organizations and mass media regarding the candidates to this post.
6) To the Ministry of Interior and General Prosecutors office of Ukraine:
- to inform the public, at the Plenary sitting of the Supreme Rada, about the results of investigation of the cases of using violence against journalists, in particular, the cases of Georgiy Gongadze and Igor Aleksandrov;
- to take measures for prevention of the cases of applying violence against journalists, to carry out the efficient and thorough investigation of such facts, to bring the guilty to responsibility.
7) To the State Tax Administration of Ukraine:
- to introduce the moratorium for the conduction of any tax checks of mass media for the period from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2005.
Principles of the activities of mass media during the pre-election period
We, owners, managers, editors and journalists of Ukrainian mass media, are realizing the important role of mass media in guaranteeing of free and conscious expression of the will of citizens, understanding our responsibility for the unbiased elucidation of the Presidential election campaign-2004, confirming our devotion to the provisions of the Declaration of the principles of behavior of journalists adopted in 1954 by the International Federation of journalists and to the Ethic Code of Ukrainian journalists adopted on 14 April 2002 by the Congress of journalists. So, we voluntarily assume the obligation to adhere the following principles of work during the election campaign-2004. We undertake:
1. Owners and managers of mass media:
- to guarantee the creation and distribution of the programs providing the discussions of participants of the election process in the regime of direct broadcasting;
- not to interfere into the editorial policy and not to restrict the creative freedom of journalists;
- to abstain from the actions, which would result in the violation of the rules mentioned below.
2. Editors and journalists of mass media:
- to have respect for private life of the participants of election campaign and to distribute the information about the private life of these persons only if this information is of the considerable public interest and is necessary for forming the opinion about the candidate to Presidents post;
- not to publish the groundless accusations and inauthentic statements, which discredit the honor and dignity of the participants of election campaign;
- to separate the informational and analytical materials concerning the pre-election events from the political advertising, and the evaluative judgments and assumptions – from facts;
- not to ignore the facts of violation of legal rights of other journalists and mass media, to express actively the solidarity with them.
Participants of the Second Forum of journalists “For election without censorship”, 10 November 2003
("Svoboda slova. Poltavshchina", electronic bulletin of the Poltava oblast media club, No. 54, 12 November 2003, [email protected] )
Persecutions, pressure, intimidation, etc. because of political motives
Poltava oblast media club published the White Book of the Poltava journalism (1997-2003)
The White Book was published with the support of the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia”. Its presentation was held on 19 November in the National Union of journalists of Ukraine.
The publication of the White Book of the Poltava journalism is the first attempt to represent the generalized picture of the situation with mass media in the Poltava oblast, first of all, the pressure on journalists and violations of the freedom of speech. This is a collection of various official documents, mass media materials, letters of readers, listeners and viewers.
According to the data of public expertise of the level of the freedom of speech conducted by the Center “Suspilstvo”, the Poltava oblast occupies the 22nd place out 26 (25 oblasts and Kyiv). The situation has not improved during several last years, on the contrary, today the Poltava oblast is far from democracy as never before. The oppression of the freedom of speech in the oblast became a common phenomenon. And it is known that the violation of journalists right for free collection and distribution of information results in the violation of the right of citizens for obtaining the objective and unbiased information. It seems that the Poltava oblast authorities has already used all methods of pressure on mass media. In what follows we adduce the list of such methods:
- dismissal of journalists and editors, who dare to criticize the power;
- closure of disobedient mass media with the help of tax inspection, sanitary inspection, fire inspection, etc.;
- seizure of property and bank accounts of the mass media disagreeable to the power;
- unofficial prohibition to printing-houses to publish the opposition mass media;
- prohibition to businessmen to publish their advertising in such mass media;
- prohibition to sellers of periodicals to distribute the opposition mass media;
- thefts, organized by special services, of the runs of opposition mass media from printing-houses;
- publication of falsified issues of opposition mass media;
- impediment to the mass media during the subscription campaigns;
- preventing the delivery of the mass media to the subscribers;
- restriction of the access to information of the disloyal mass media (non-admission to the meetings, sessions and press conferences, ignoring of informational requests, etc.);
- organization of the campaigns in the pro-power mass media for discrediting the disobedient journalists (the so-called “informational killing”);
- enormous sums of claims handed against the opposition mass media and journalists, as well as satisfaction of these claims by the corrupted courts;
- jamming of foreign radio stations with transmissions of the local stations;
- jamming of the TV companies conflicting with the authorities by the military radio-relay stations;
- illegal switching off the opposition TV companies from cable networks;
- intimidation and beating of disobedient journalists;
- organization of the attempts at journalists and their physical extermination.
Yes, the physical extermination! The first journalist, who perished in the independent Ukraine (1992) was MP from Kremenchug Vadim Boyko, a young TV journalist of the popular TV studio “Gart”. In 2002 the Poltava media club organized the premium for journalists bravery named after V. Boyko.
(«The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 57, 24 November 2003)
Criminal attempts at journalists
Murders in Obukhiv. Death of journalist Sergiy Khavtura
On 11 November Sergiy Khavtura was buried. Sergiy was a journalist. He had worked in various informational agencies, but for some time before the death he was jobless. Khavtura was murdered in the night of 9 November near his house. A great haematoma and wound on his temple confirmed that the journalist was murdered. However, forensic experts resolved that Khavtura had died of cold and getting of food particles into his respiratory tract. The head traumas were not mentioned in the expert conclusion at all.
Obukhiv inhabitants tell that this was the 14th murder in their town during the last month. And every time the experts found any causes of the death, except the murder. The facts of falsifying the expert conclusions and passivity of militia in Obukhiv are scandalous! People are in panic. They asked Sergiy Khavturas friends, who came from Kyiv, to do something for the investigation of these crimes. They asked the journalists to describe this situation in the press in order to make the local militia act.
P. S. We learned that this electoral district was represented by Zasukha, the wife of the governor of the Kyiv oblast. The site “Maydan” already informed about the criminal riot, which takes place in the towns headed by the Zasukhas clan. This problem was also mentioned in the speeches of the participants of the Forum of democratic forces of the Kyiv oblast, which was held on 18 October in Bila Tserkva.
“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 55, 17 November 2003)
Attack on Igor Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dankor” (Sumy)
The Ukrainian Association of publishers of periodicals (UAPP) prepared the appeal, which, in particular, reads: “We are demanding the decisive actions from militia. The attacks on journalists and publishers of mass media continue, but the law-enforcing organs do nothing”.
The UAPP received the response from V. Evdokimov, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, “On the measures for the investigation of the hooligan actions committed against I. Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dankor””:
“The Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine attentively considered your appeal. We established that at midnight of 24 September 2003 two unknown criminals sprayed some oily liquid into Danilenkos face and escaped. The experts examined this liquid and did not find any toxic components. The Zarechny district militia precinct instituted the criminal case after the fact of the attack in accordance with part 1 Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (hooliganism). A group of detectives was created for the investigation of this offence. The group checks now several versions, including one connected with the professional activities of the victim. The law-enforcing organs of the Sumy oblast are trying to establish the identity of the attackers: the militiamen are analyzing the publications in the newspaper “Dankor” in order to find the information compromising some juridical or physical persons. The persons, who are registered in militia and medical establishments of the oblast, are also checked as to the participation in this attack. The investigation of the crime is controlled by the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine”.
The UAPP expresses its gratitude to the head of the CID for his response, but we want to remind that, along with the attack on I. Danilenko, we mentioned in our appeal the attack on Vinnitsa publishers Taradaykos (father and son) and other crimes against journalists: “The Ukrainian Association of publishers of the periodicals demands the immediate reaction of the Ministry of Interior to the facts of criminal terror against journalists and publishers. The UAPP proposes to create the special commission at the Ministry of Interior, which should regularly report to the public and mass media about the course of investigation of the crimes against mass media workers. NOT A SINGLE attacker has been found until now.”
The commission was not created.
(Electronic bulletin of the Ukrainian Association of publishers of periodicals, “Novyny drukovanykh ZMI Ukrainy”, No. 39, 18 November 2003)
A correspondent of the newspaper “Fakty i komentarii” was beaten in Odessa
The appeal of the Odessa Guild of correspondents:
On 19 November, at 20:45, Aleksandr Levit, a correspondent of the all-Ukrainian newspaper “Fakty i komentarii”, was attacked by several strangers.
The men hit the journalist on his head for several times, knocked him down and began to kick him. The attackers warned the journalist: “This is only the beginning, and later we will murder you”. A. Levit got the bodily injures of various degree of gravity.
The criminals did not take either money, or valuables, or the cell phone, therefore they beat the journalist with another purpose. A. Levit handed the official complaint about the attack to the Primorskiy district militia precinct.
We believe that this crime, committed against a member of the Odessa Guild of correspondents, evidences on helplessness of the power and law-enforcing organs. The publications by Levit are very acute and principal, which, naturally, irritates the officials and other influential persons.
A. Levit carried out the journalistic investigation of the arbitrary actions of the workers of a café, situated in one of the houses at Panteleymonovskaya Street, towards the tenants of the house. Maybe, the position of the journalist in this conflict caused the attack on him, as well as the beating of his father, a 80-year-old veteran of the WW2, participant of the Grigoryevskiy landing, defense and liberation of Odessa, a veteran of journalism.
We regard this crime, committed against our colleague, as another attempt of pressure on journalists, who have their own opinion about the events occurring in Odessa. We keep in mind the beatings of Igor Rozov, Stanislav Shandar and Arkadiy Romm, the members of the Giuld, as well as intimidation by phone of other journalists of all-Ukrainian mass media, who work in Odessa.
We demand from the Odessa oblast state administration, mayor Ruslan Bodelan, oblast militia directorate and the Odessa city militia directorate to comment this scandalous crime against the journalist, to conduct the effective investigation of the crime and to inform the public about the measures taken for the prevention of such facts in future.
Viacheslav Voronkov, the president of the Odessa Guild of correspondents
Impediment to the production and distribution of mass media
On 11 November the publishing house “Donetchina” refused to print the weekly “Ostrov”
The reasons of the refusal were not explained, but it is obvious that the one-sided breach of the contract on printing of the newspaper was caused by the independent position of the weekly, which had protested against the arbitrary actions of local authorities. Besides, in every issue the newspaper publishes the materials of journalists investigation concerning the corruption in the prosecutors organs. The main personage of this “epos” is Gennadiy Vasylyev, a former prosecutor of the Donetsk oblast, the first vice-speaker of the Supreme Rada and a candidate to the post of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine. The first hint at the breach of the contract was made on 10 November, when Volodymir Diatlovskiy, the main technologist of the publishing house, in a private talk with Evhen Talyshev, the editor-in-chief of “Ostrov”, said: “We have no complaints against your edition, but we cannot print the newspaper any more”. At that Diatlovskiy assured that the next issue of the newspaper (No. 45) would be published. Yet, the publishing house did not keep this promise too. In the morning of 12 November, when the issue of “Ostrov” with the final part of the journalists investigation of Vladimir Boyko was made up, printed on the typographical film, and the driver of the editorial car was already trasporting these materials to the publishing house, the editorial board was informed by phone that “Donetchina” would not print “Ostrov”. Some time later V. Diatlovskiy told that the order about the refusal to print the newspaper had been obtained from Vasyl Kovaliov, the head of the board of the publishing house. The attempts of the editorial board to contact the head of the enterprise were unsuccessful: Kovaliov was absent. Yet, he confirmed the categorical refusal to print the newspaper by cell phone, but did not give any explanations. By the way, in the same morning, on 12 November, several young men with criminal appearance came to the building, where the office of the newspaper had been situated earlier, and told that they wanted to meet editor-in-chief Evhen Talyshev. When the visitors learned that the editorial board had moved to another place, they went away. Vladimir Boyko, a permanent author of “Ostrov”, who is known well to the readers of the Ukrainian political Internet for his revelatory articles about the corruption in law-enforcing organs, is sure that the refusal of the publishing house “Donetchina” to print the independent newspaper is caused by the publication in “Ostrov” of his “serial” investigation of the church-prosecutors business of Gennadiy Vasylyev. His articles on this topic are the bestsellers in the Internet, but only “Ostrov” dares to publish them.
Yet, there is another version. The fact is that “Ostrov” is the only printed edition in the Donetsk oblast, which did not hush up the shameful events in Donetsk on 31 October. The newspaper elucidated these events in the 44th special issue under the title: “Criminal putsch in Donetsk”. The first page of the special issue contained the photograph made by a correspondent of the newspaper at the instant, when leader of “Our Ukraine” Viktor Yushchenko pointed at the organizers of the Sunday “show” and called them by their proper name: “Toadies!”
(«Nasha Ukraina», 14 November 2003, www.razom.org.uа)
The Institute of mass information:
The issue of the Donetsk newspaper “Ostrov” of 13 November was published in spite of all obstacles. The edition fulfilled its promise and published the end of the trilogy by Vladimir Boyko on the corruption in the prosecutors organs. This material tells about the connection of Gennadiy Vasylyev, the first vice-speaker of the Supreme Rada and a candidate to the post of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, with criminal circles of Donetsk. When the administration of the publishing house “Donetchina” learned what material “Ostov” was going to publish, they refused to print the issue until Boykos article would be removed from it. The issue was printed by another publishing house.
Meanwhile, the conflict between the publishing house “Donetchina” and the newspaper “Ostrov” is an insignificant part of the iceberg…
(“Telekritika”, 13 November 2003, 17:03)
Nikolayev oblast publishing house refused to print the all-Ukrainian newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden”
The Ukrainian-language oppositional newspaper of the Rukh supported the bloc “Our Ukraine”. In particular, the newspaper criticized the oblast administration. The formal reason of the refusal was the little run of the edition – 5000 copies.
This was an original present from the local power to the 10th anniversary of “Ukrainskiy Pivden”: the first issue of the newspaper had been published on 12 November 1993.
(“Nasha Ukraina”, 18 November 2003; razom.org.ua)
“It is even ridiculous to speak about the freedom of speech in the Nikolayev oblast”, declared Yuri Didenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Ukrainskiy Pivden”, to the IMI correspondent in the course of the conversation concerning the refusal of the Nikolayev oblast publishing house to cooperate with his edition. We want to remind that on 15 November the publishing house refused to print “Ukrainskiy Pivden”, which endorsed the interests of the bloc “Our Ukraine”.
The editor-in-chief tried to find other opportunities for printing the newspaper, but not a single oblast publishing house agreed to cooperate with the edition, which criticized the local power.
(The Institute of mass information, 19 November 2003, www.imi.org.ua)
Newspaper “VV” will not be sold in the kiosks of the company “Soyuzdruk”
(«Maydan», 7 November 2003, maidan.org.ua)
Conflicts connected with licensing of electronic mass media
Poltava TV company “UTA” was an alternative to state TV. Now it does not exist
Ludmila Kucherenko, the President of the Poltava oblast media club:
Since 18 June 2003 the Poltava TV and radio company “UTA” stopped to broadcast on the 24th TV channel, on which it had worked for many years.
During the parliamentary election campaign the TRC “UTA” cooperated with Kyiv TV company “TET”. After the election, in November 2002, “TET” handed a suit against “UTA” demanding to pay the compensation equal to 9,300,000 hryvnas for violating the conditions of the contract. The sum of the claim exceeded the actives of the TV company more than in three times. By the opinion of Pavel Moiseev, a lawyer of “Internews-Ukraine”, to whom the TRC “UTA” turned for the legal aid, the demanded sum and other circumstances of the case showed that the actions of the claimant were directed at the destruction of the company. By the way, just at that time the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting had to announce the competition for the use of the 24th channel, which was used then by the TRC “UTA”.
Further events confirmed that the persecution of the TRC “UTA” was “ordered” by some influential persons, since on the next day after the claim was handed to the economic court of the Poltava oblast the court issued the resolution about the arrest of the property and bank accounts of the TV company and sent this resolution to the state executive service. The executors fulfilled the decision quickly: on the next day the accounts of “UTA” were arrested (usually this procedure takes 2-4 weeks). As a result, the activities of the company were almost paralyzed.
The TRC “UTA” handed the counter-claim on the acknowledgement of the invalidity of the contract between “UTA” and the TRC “TET”.
The economic court of the Poltava oblast approved the decision on the collection from the TRC “UTA” of 9,300,000 UAH of compensation and 17,118 UAH of legal expenses. At that, according to the words of lawyer of “Unternews-Ukraine” Pavel Moiseev, the court ignored all explanations of the TRC “UTA”, refused to satisfy its counter-claim and announced a part of the decision in the absence of the parties, thus brutally violating the norms of the material and procedural right.
On 12 March 2003 the Kharkov appeal economic court considered the appeal of the TRC “UTA” and acknowledged the contract between the TRCs “UTA” and “TET” to be invalid. “TET” did not appeal against this decision.
Meanwhile the TRC “UTA” handed the documents for the participation in the competition of the National council for the right to use the 24th channel, since the term of their license had finished by that time. At the first sitting of the National council the votes of eight members of the council divided into two equal parts: 4 members voted “for” and 4 – “against”. It is interesting that Lilia Mironovich, the representative of the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting in the Poltava oblast and a former referent of P. Shemet, the deputy head of the Poltava oblast administration), who, by logics, had to protect the interests of the Poltava TV company, voted for giving the license… to the Kyiv TRC “TET”, loyal to the SDPU (u). The members of the sitting ignored the fact that the TRC “UTA” had the most modern equipment in Poltava and the many-year experience of work.
In several weeks, at another sitting of the National council, the final decision was taken: the 24th Poltava channel was given to the TRC “TET”. By the way, one of the members of the National Council, who took part in the voting, said: “Sorry, but I shall vote for “TET”, although I like your company more. Yet, a person, who had financed my election campaign, asked me to vote so. I cannot refuse.”
However, there was some hope yet that the TRC “UTA”, which had become really independent after the numerous ordeals with political censorship, would return to the Poltava air, and the Poltava dwellers would have the TV channel alternative to state ones. Yet, the results of the competition for another frequency were the same as the previous time: the competition was won by the Donetsk TV company…
(“Prava ludyny” (English version), Kharkov, November 2003)
Commentary of Vitaliy Shevchenko, a deputy head of the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting:
“This story is lasting for many months. The competition, in which “UTA” took part, was one of tens of competitions that were held at that time. And if one would ask a member of the National Council why he had voted for this or that TV company, he would answer that he did that on the basis of the current understanding of the situation. I, for example, voted for “UTA”, but it was useless because there were only two votes for this company. Naturally, I comprehend that the attitude to “UTA” at the previous competition was unfair. Yet, theoretically, that was a quite new competition, and it was won by one of the pretenders.
(«The Poltava oblast media club, No. 56, 21 November 2003)
“Tax inspection will block the accounts of my company, the communication committee will disconnect us from the frequency, at which we are working. I do not know what methods of struggle with me the law-enforcers will invent”
Some days ago Sergiy Sholokh, the general manager of the radio company “Kontinent”, stated that he had got the information from the trustworthy source that the Presidential Administration allegedly “issued the unofficial order to law-enforcing organs, structures of the State communication committee and tax organs to apply the appropriate measures for cessation of the work of “Kontinent””.
“Most probably, the tax inspection will block the accounts of my company, the communication committee will disconnect us from the frequency, at which we are working. I do not know what methods of struggle with me the law-enforcers will invent”, said S. Sholokh.
“Kontinent” is an independent radio company, it excels as a mass media, which makes public the acute materials criticizing the power. In particular, radio “Kontinent” transmits the features of foreign informational services: “The Voice of America”, “BBC”, “Deutche Welle” and “Polske Radio”.
Nobody knows whether the source mentioned by Sholokh is really trustworthy, but the radio company had the conflict with state agencies before. In the beginning of 2001 the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting took the decision about the deprivation of radio “Kontinent” of the right to broadcast. The radio station remained in the air because it handed the appeal against the decision of the National Council to the European Court of human rights. According to international legal norms and obligations, “Kontinent” has the right to broadcast until the end of consideration of the case in the European Court.
In the connection with the latest information Sergiy Sholokh turned to President Leonid Kuchma with the open letter, in which he pointed out that “the pressure on mass media will evoke the negative reaction of Western countries and will be advantageous, first of all, to Russia”.
(«Ukraina moloda», No. 203, 1 November 2003)
Court processes against journalists and mass media. civil cases. defamation
Claims of Yulia Timoshenko against the TV company “1+1”
On 28 November the Shevchenkivskiy district court of Kyiv satisfied the claim of Yulia Timoshenko against the TV company “1+1” on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. LIGABusinessInform got this information from the press service of the party “Batkivshchina”.
The court acknowledged the information made public by Dmytro Korchinskiy, the presenter of the feature “Prote”, as inauthentic and discrediting honor, dignity and business reputation of Yu. Timoshenko. This information concerned the work of Ms. Timoshenko as the head of the corporation “EESY”.
According to the court decision, the channel “1+1” must give to Yu. Timoshenko the opportunity to go on the air for refutation of the untrue information about her.
This is not the first suit of Yulia Timoshenko against “1+1”. All previous claims were satisfied by courts too, pointed out the representatives of the party.
(Ukrainian network of business information, www.liga.net)
Kirovograd TV and radio company “TTV” got the resolution of the Supreme Court on the compensation of moral damage equal to 300 thousand hryvnas
This information was communicated by general manager of “TTV” Viktor Tokarev.
The claim against the TRC “TTV” was handed by Volodymir Yaroshenko, the head of the Kirovograd town court. His claim was connected with the elucidation by the channel “TTV” in June 2002 of the meeting, at which one of the participants brought an accusation against Yaroshenko
“Context-media” informs, referring to Tokarev, that the resolution was issued on 20 October, and the TRC got this document only yesterday. “Our representatives were not present at the trial. We cannot agree with the decision, so we will turn to the international court instances”, declared Viktor Tokarev.
Judges won 3:0. This is the result of the legal proceedings between Volodymir Yaroshenko and Kirovograd mass media. Along with “Ukraina-Tsentr”, the list of debtors was supplemented with the TRC “TTV” and the newspaper “Kirovogradska Pravda”.
General manager of “TTV” Viktor Tokarev told this to journalists on the past Tuesday: “We are sure that we are right and that we did not violate any legal norms. Naturally, we are going to continue to strive for justice in the European Court. Unfortunately, in the European Court we will have to present a claim against Ukraine…”
("Ukraina-Tsentr", Kirovograd, No. 48, 28 November 2003)
Another court consideration of the claim of “Lvivska gazeta” against Sergiy Medvedchuk began in the Syhivskiy district court of Lviv
The Syhivskiy district court of Lviv started another court consideration of the claim of “Lvivska gazeta” against Sergiy Medvedchuk, the head of the tax administration of the Lviv oblast. Two weeks before, at the previous sitting, the newspaper turned to the court with the petition to make the audio record of the sitting. There was no needed equipment in the court, so the sitting was postponed until 17 November. The newspaper demands from Medvedchuk to refute publicly the false information, which he made public on 17 July during the press conference, and to pay to the newspaper 20 thousand hryvnas of moral and material compensation.
The matter of the fact is that, after the check of the newspaper by the tax administration, Medvedchuk stated that he had “several questions to “Lvivska gazeta””. “Firstly, the newspaper declared that its run was 10-16 thousand, but the real number was only 4000. Besides, there were some problems with advertising. During a year the newspaper had been unprofitable, but it, by some miracle, became profitable, when the tax check began”.
After this Oleg Onisko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, said at a press conference that Medvedchuk gave the information that did not represent the facts and, so, went beyond his commission.
(«Obozrevatel», 17 November 2003, www.obozrevatel.com.ua)
Head of the Western regional customs Taras Kozak wants to obtain 86000 hryvnas of compensation from the newspaper “Lvivska gazeta” for reprinting a material from the Polish weekly “Rzecz Pospolita”
Kozak believes that the facts adduced in the article are not true.
As a result, the head of the Western regional customs turned to the Lychakivskiy district court with the demand to oblige “Lvivska gazeta” to refute the inauthentic information and to recompense him the moral damage equivalent to 86 thousand hryvnas. In his claim Kozak quotes a fragment of the article by Polish journalist Petp Koscinski, which caused damage to his image:
“The tax service of the Lviv oblast is now headed by three persons. The most important figure is Sergiy Medvedchuk, a brother of Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of Presidents Administration of Ukraine. The brothers help to each other. Any requests on the case of Sergiy Medvedchuk, even the request of the Polish government about the case of “Credit-bank” (Ukraine), do not evoke any response either of the President or of the Prime-Minister of Ukraine. The second person is Mykola Khomiak, a deputy head of the oblast tax administration, the head of Lviv tax inspection. The third member of this triumvirate is Taras Kozak, who heads the custom service. Recently he fired from his service gun in one of Lviv restaurants, but nobody punished him”.
The collective of “Lvivska gazeta” doubts that Mr. Kozak will manage to obtain these money, since the Ukrainian legislation does not envisage the responsibility for reptinting any materials from other editions.
The article had been published in “Rzecz Pospolita” on 15 October 2003 and was reprinted by “Lvivska gazeta” on 16 October.
(The Institute of mass information, 19 November 2003, www.imi.org.ua)
Tatiana Korobovas case in the European Court
According to the words of Zoriana Bortnianska, the representative of the government in the European Court, the first consideration of the case was closed, so the representative of the defendant refused to give the detailed comments.
“This is the case of the newspaper “Den””, told journalist Tatiana Korobova, now a correspondent of the newspaper “Grani+”, in her interview to “Telekritika”. “Two my articles, about Natalya Vitrenko and Petro Simonenko, published in 1999 in “Den”, became the subject of consideration in the Ukrainian court. The essence of the articles consisted in the versions and assessments. Yet, the position of our court is traditional: if a statement is negative, then it is not true”.
According to the court decision, the newspaper “Den” and the journalist were obliged to recompense the moral damage. Dmitry Kutakh, the advocate representing the defendants, prepared the complaint to the European Court of human rights, and the complaint was accepted for consideration.
Dmitry Kutakh, a lawyer, the Russian advocates group (RAG):
-- We have not received yet the notification about the consideration of the case. We really prepared the complaint to the European Court, and it was accepted.
The Ministry of Justice is the defendant in this case: it represents Ukraine in the European Court. If the Court directed the materials on this case to the Ministry of Justice, it, most probably, evidences about the preparation of the materials for objections or about the preparation to the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Such procedure is envisaged by proper rules.
-- What is the essence of the complaint?
-- The suit of Tatiana Korobova and the association “Ukrainian press-group” to the European Court consists of two items concerning the violation of the norms of the European Convention on human rights and freedoms. Firstly, the article contained the evaluative judgments, but the Ukrainian court acknowledged these statements to be the untrue information. Secondly, Article 4 of the European Convention on human rights and freedoms, which envisages the right for fair court, was violated.
(Oksana Lysenko, “Telekritika”, 14 November 2003, www.telekritika.kiev.ua)
(“The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 55, 17 November 2003)
Editorial board of “Vechernie visti” is the defendant in 13 cases on the total sum of more than one million hryvnas
The number of claims against our newspaper and the sums, which the plaintiffs exact from us for the moral damage, can have two meanings: either the journalists of “VV” are utterly unprofessional or the newspaper is persecuted by somebodys order. I believe that the professionalism of the newspaper should be estimated by our readers.
The majority of the claims against our newspaper concern not the facts, but the evaluative statements. For example, a former head of the DFOC has brought a suit recently, in which he demands to recognize as “ungrounded and insulting” the following fragments of the article “Snakes nest and dead scapegoats”, which article concerned the case of Gongadze and the activities of the DFOC: “Nikolay Dzhiga is a master of illegal special operations”, “They will kidnap, torture and murder” and “… they were brought up in the menagerie of Leonid Kuchma” (two latter quotations were devoted to the DFOC. – Editors note)
It is interesting that in his writ Nikolay Dzhiga acknowledges: “The mentioned statements are the evaluative judgments, which are ungrounded and insulting both by form and by substance”. Yet, nobody may be brought to responsibility for evaluative judgments!
One more claimant, a judge, wants to obtain 100 thousand hryvnas for the moral damage. The judge declares in his claim that his business reputation was undermined as a result of making public by “VV” of the complaint of convict Georgiy Yanev, which contained a number of unpleasant statements about the judge. The judge believes that the journalist permitted himself a number of pronouncements, which insulted him. For instance, the judge is displeased by the fact that he was called “a brother-in-arms” of Aleksandr Lupeyko, the notorious Bila Tserkva prosecutor. Maybe, the journalist had to call him “an accomplice”? This case promises to be very interesting. At the fist court sitting the journalist asked to summon some witnesses. However, he did not specify, who were these witnesses, since the judge asked him to present this petition at the next sitting. On the next day a stranger phoned to one of the witnesses and threatened him. The judge wants to get 50 thousand hryvnas from the journalist and the same sum – from the editorial board. 100 thousand is a great sum. Yet, the moral damage was, perhaps, significant too.
(«Vechernie visti», 10 November 2003, «Ukraina kriminalnaya», 3 November 2003)
Head of Presidents Administration of Ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk handed the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and on the compensation of moral damage against Oleksandr Moroz and Socialist Party
According to the information of UNIAN, Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of Presidents Administration of Ukraine, handed the claim on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and on the compensation of moral damage against Oleksandr Moroz and the Socialist Party. The claim was caused by demonstration, in autumn 2002, of the film “Digitized truth”, in which Medvedchuk was accused of the cooperation with the Soviet KGB. The authors of the film referred to the records of major Melnichenko.
O. Moroz, the leader of the Socialist Party, turned to Vasyl Maliarenko, the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and Sergiy Kivalov, the head of the Supreme council of justice, with the official letter, in which he asked “to interfere in the situation and to give the legal assessment of the decision of the Kyiv Appeal court about the consideration of the case in the Pecherskiy district court instead of the Shevchenkivskiy court”. The text of the letter was passed to the UNIAN agency. In his letter O. Moroz reminds that “firstly, according to the norms of the Civil-Procedural Code, the consideration of cases is carried out in the district, where the defendant stays, and, secondly, the Shevchenkivskiy court almost finished the consideration of this case and disclosed the facts of falsifying proofs by the claimant”.
So, the leader of the SPU expressed the belief that “such tricks, which are incompatible with the norms of justice, are the result of the pressure exerted on the court by the top officials from Presidents Administration”.
(«Silski Visti», No. 130, 6 November 2003)
Kherson judge Golovko issued the resolution on the claim of Alena Rotova against the town newspaper “VIK”
On 6 November a sensational event occurred in Kherson. Judge Golovko considered the claim of Alena Rotova, the vice-mayor of Kherson, against the local newspaper “VIK” and issued the following resolution:
“Being governed by Articles 152, 156 and 157 of the Civil-Procedural Code of Ukraine and with the aim of guaranteeing the independence of court, the court RESOLVED:
To prohibit the company “TV and radio company “VIK””, the editorial board of the civil-political weekly “VIK: chas, podii, ludy”, Sergiy Kirichenko and others to publish in mass media any information on the activities of A. Rotova, … on the violation by her of the demands of the Constitution and Laws of Ukraine until the court decision would be taken on the claim.
The decision must be immediately fulfilled according to the legal procedure of execution of court decisions”.
However, Alena Rotova (she is a deputy of the town council) rented almost all town cemeteries and became the monopolist in this sphere. She dictates the rules, and nobody can resist, because the deceased cannot wait until their relatives will defend the rights violated by Rotova.
(A communication to the Kharkov group for human rights protection)
According to the information given by journalist Vladimir Aleksandrov, Alena Rotona, the vice-mayor of Kherson, handed a claim against the weekly “VIK” about the compensation of the damage inflicted to her honor, dignity and business reputation by the publications in the newspaper. The demanded sum was 15 thousand hryvnas. The vice-mayor also asked the court to prohibit the weekly to publish any information about her until the court decision would be taken.
In the opinion of the journalist, the court decision means that henceforth none of the newspapers or TV channels has the right even to hint to the readers or viewers at the fact that A. Rotova, a co-founder of the company “Polis”, earns money by managing the town cemeteries, thus combining this business and the work of vice-mayor.
Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Sergey Osolodkin stated that the editorial board would appeal against the verdict of Aleksandr Golovko.
Kherson vice-mayor Alena Rotova and her daughter businesswoman Jana Rotova handed the series of claims on the protection of honor and dignity against the newspapers “VIK” and “Grivna”. All in all, the Rotovs demand to pay them 130 thousand hryvnas of compensation. One of the claims, on 50 thousand hryvnas, had been already satisfied by judge Golovko.
The editorial board of “VIK” handed the complaint against the decision of judge Golovko to the appeal court.
Besides, the fact that it was prohibited “to other persons” to write about the violations of the Constitution and Ukrainian laws exasperated many local journalists. The Kherson town association of journalists “Pivden” proposed the legal aid to all representatives of the “fourth power”, who were going to fight for their right for the freedom of speech in court. As a result, 23 correspondents of local editions appealed against the court decision to the higher instance.
On 4 December the Appeal Court of the Kherson oblast expressed its attitude to the actions of judge A. Golovko: “The conclusion of the court… about the prohibition of the publications, connected with the case, by the defendants and other persons contradicts the demands of Articles 149 and 152 of the CPC of Ukraine”.
It should be noted that the Kherson journalists have never been so solidary in protecting their rights in court. That became possible thanks to the project “Legal aid to journalists of the Kherson oblast” realized by the Kherson town association of journalists “Pivden”.
(Ukrainian media server, “Pivden”, 11 December 2003)
Court processes against journalists and mass media. criminal cases
Criminal case of Vladimir Boyko (Donetsk)
On 7 November the consideration was carried out in the Voroshilovskiy district court of Donetsk of the suit of Vladimir Boyko against the prosecutors office of the Donetsk oblast, State Tax Administration of Donetsk and the Donetsk city militia directorate. The claimant demanded to recompense him the damage inflicted by the illegal detention in the office of the newspaper and holding in custody during 10 days under the inhumane conditions.
The oblast prosecutors office recognized that, since V. Boyko had not commit any crimes, the criminal case instituted against him by the prosecutors office was closed because of the absence of corpus delicti. In August 2002 the Appeal Court of the Donetsk oblast acknowledged the detention of Boyko to be illegal. Yet, the tax service (which is, by the way, headed by Oleksandr Vasylyev, a younger brother of G. Vasylyev, the first vice-speaker of the Supreme Rada) did not agree with this. The Donetsk oblast STA sent to the trial its representative I. Dziuba, who declared that the tax administration did not recognize the suit and reckoned that it was correct that Mr. Boyko had spent 10 days in the preliminary prison. When the surprised judge reminded that the court acknowledged the detention to be illegal, the tax officer answered: “Any court decisions mean nothing to us”.
We want to remind that on 25 June 2002 V. Boyko was detained at his workplace in the office of the newspaper “Salon”. The prosecutors office instituted the criminal case against the journalist after the publication of his article “General-purpose prosecutors” in the Internet edition “Ukraina kriminalna” (http://cripo.com.ua/stati/rub-2/r2-s24.htm). In this article the journalist told about the criminal business of Gennadiy Vasylyevs close circle. Officers of the General Prosecutors office were immediately sent to the Donetsk oblast for the check of the facts stated in the publication. The facts appeared to be true. Yet, instead of punishing the uniformed criminals, the workers of the oblast prosecutors office began to threaten V. Boyko with prison. This information was also made public by “Ukraina kriminalna” (http://cripo.com.ua/stati/rub-1/r1-s38.htm). The threat was realized quite soon: the prosecutor of the Kuybyshevskiy district of Donetsk, by the order from the oblast prosecutors office, instituted the criminal case against Boyko for dodging from paying taxes and misuse of power. The prosecutor directed the case to the investigation department of the Donetsk STA, but they did not inform the journalist about the case during six weeks. Probably, they hoped to close this case secretly, since they understood that the case could raise a great scandal.
However, when Boyko wrote an article about the corruption in tax services (adducing as the example the activities of a son of the then head of the oblast STA), the measures were taken: the article was withdrawn from the page-proof, and, on the next day, Boyko was detained. Later the court acknowledged the detention to be illegal, and the case was closed in accordance with Article 6 item 2.
The public indignation about the detention of the journalist was so active that even Leonid Kuchma gave his assessment of the activities of tax militia and prosecutors office. On 6 July 2002 he denounced these actions. Yet, the Vasylyevs have different viewpoint. Apparently, the head of the Donetsk oblast STA, inspired by the hope that his younger brother will become the General Prosecutor soon, decided to demonstrate the attitude of his family to laws, common sense, image of the country and court decisions that had come into force.
(«Maydan», 10 November 2003, maidan.org.ua)
Vladimir Boyko, Donetsk:
In the evening of 7 November a stranger phoned me and stated: “You have already been in prison, and now we will to beat your brains out”. For two days I could not understand, with which publication these threats were connected. Yet, the last week my acquaintance from Kyiv told me that Vasylyev had ordered to V. Pshonka, the prosecutor of the Donetsk oblast, to take the immediate measures towards me and those persons, who had given the interviews for my article. Everybody knows that the Donetsk oblast prosecutors office is, in fact, headed by G. Vasylyev. V. Pshonka is a nominal figure neglected even by district prosecutors, and the heads of great subunits, for example, Donetsk city prosecutor A. Olmezov, get the orders directly from G. Vasylyev, omitting the oblast prosecutors office. Vasylyev ordered to arrest the former officers of militia and USS, who had told me about the commercial-criminal activities of the first vice-speaker of the Supreme Rada, and to seize the documents and other proofs (for instance, audio records) that compromised him.
Mykola Tomenko, the head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information, sent the letter to S. Vinokurov, the first deputy of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine. The letter reads that the Committee in charge of the freedom of speech and information continues to receive complaints about the facts of impediment to the legal professional activities of journalists.
For example, on 7 November 2003 a stranger phoned to Donetsk independent journalist Vladimir Boyko and threatened him with physical violence. According to the information of mass media, there are no doubts that the threats were connected with the professional activities of the journalist. That happened after the publication in several mass media of a series of critical materials by V. Boyko about the events in Donetsk on 31 October 2003.
M. Tomenko points out in his letter that Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine envisages the responsibility for impediment to the legal professional activities of journalists. Besides, the Criminal Code envisages the responsibility for threatening with murder (Article 129) or physical violence of an official or a citizen, who fulfills the civil duty (Article 350).
According to the Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine, the pre-trial investigation of the cases connected with Articles 171 and 350 of the Criminal Code must be carried out by the organs of prosecution. So, Mykola Tomenko asks the first deputy of the General Prosecutor to conduct the urgent check of the information adduced in the complaint and to take the appropriate measures.
When the Donetsk newspaper “Ostrov” started to publish the article of V. Boyko about the criminal business of G. Vasylyev, somebody began to threaten the journalist by phone. Besides, some strangers tried to get to Boykos flat, where the documents were stored that proved the participation of the workers of the Donetsk prosecutors office in the creation of the criminal group under the direction of the first vice-speaker. The editorial board of “Ostrov” had to change the place of its work.
On 11 November the editorial board got the phone call from the publishing house “Donetchina”, where the weekly was printed. Representative of the publishing house informed that the newspaper would not be printed, if it would contain the end of V. Boykos article about the criminal activities of G. Vasylyev and his assistant R. Kuzmin. The head of the technological department of the publishing house said that the workers of the editorial board had to show her the typographical films, that she would check the films and only then would give the permission to print the issue. Evhen Talyshev, the editor-in-chief of “Ostrov”, refused from the censorship.
On the next day, 12 November, at 9:40 a.m., tough young men came to the building, where the editorial board had been located several days before. Their car has the state registration number 512-38 ЕВ. When the uninvited guests learned that the editorial board had moved, they drove away.
Two hours later Volodymir Diatlovskiy, the main technologist of the publishing house “Donetchina”, informed the editorial board that Vasyl Kovaliov, the head of the board of this joint-stock company, ordered to stop the printing of the newspaper. At that the publishing house was ready to give back the money paid for printing and to pay the forfeit envisaged by the contract. However, the editorial board managed to print the newspaper in another printing shop. Yet, the newspaper was got by none of 900 post-offices of the oblast, which had to distribute the education according to the contract with the Donetsk branch of “Ukrposhta”: at night R. Kuzmin bought all the run.
Now the editorial board of the newspaper tries to solve the question about printing of the additional run of the issue with V. Boykos article. The full text of this article is published on the Internet site:http://cripo.com.ua/?sect_id=2&aid=1609
(13 November 2003, www.maidan.org.ua )
Journalist vs. the Crimean mafia: who will win?
The court process against Evpatoria journalist Vladimir Lutyev is coming to the last stage: the appeal court of Sevastopol started to consider the case per se. Vladimir Lutyev is accused of the premeditated attempt on the life of Mykola Kotliarevskiy, an MP from the Crimean Autonomous Republic, made on order; deliberate false evidence, forcing witnesses to refuse from evidence and a number of economic crimes. We are continuing our own investigation of this case, since some circumstances and events testify that Kotliarevskiy, as well as some officers of the Crimean DFOC, who allegedly found the guilty of the attempt on the MPs life, were personally interested in accusation and condemnation of the journalist.
(The Institute of mass information, 17 November 2003, www.imi.org.ua.)
Violations of privacy
“The constitutional right of citizens for privacy of correspondence is violated, and the guilty must be punished”
The agency “Interfax”:
There are about ten Internet-hosts in Ukraine that are equipped with the monitoring facilities, stated Anatoliy Gerasimov, a deputy head of the USS, at the public hearings on the draft of the Law “On monitoring of telecommunications”, which was held on 26 November 2003. Among them four Internet-hosts are owned by registered providers, who have the right to render services to state organs (“GlobalUkraine”, "Infokom", “Elvisti” and "UkrSat").
According to Order No. 122 of the State communication committee of 17 June 2002, one of the conditions of inclusion of a provider in the register is the installation of the equipment for monitoring.
At the same time, the expert evaluations were stated during the discussion. The experts assert that there are about 50 Internet-hosts with such equipment.
Aleksey Bursuk, the head of the Internet-providing company “Relkom-Ukraina”, believes that installation of the monitoring equipment on the Internet-hosts is illegal, since the law “On monitoring of telecommunications” is not adopted yet. “Thus, the constitutional right of citizens for privacy of correspondence is violated, and the guilty must be punished”, he reckons.
The human rights protecting organizations and the Internet association of Ukraine (IAU) expressed the similar opinions.
“We have already drew the attention of state organs to the fact that Order No. 122 contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and international agreements, and got the answer that this situation must be studied in details”, said Igor Diadiura, a member of the board of the IAU.
About 400 Internet providers are working in Ukraine, and the great providing companies own several Internet-hosts.
(“Podrobnosti”, 27 November 2003, 13:16)
International human rights protecting organization “Reporters without frontiers” expressed its anxiety about the attempts of the USS to control the activities in the Internet and to control the electronic correspondence.
The value of everything private is not quite understandable to us, the people, who lived in the Soviet Union. Maybe, this is the reason, why almost nobody protests against the preparation of the new law draft, owing to which the USS will have the opportunity to wiretap phones and to control the electronic correspondence. Yet, the inert reaction of our citizens is also caused by the incomprehension of the terms “monitoring” and “register of the Internet users”, as well as the undisguised indifference to this question of the majority of Ukrainian population.
Meanwhile, the IAU complained to the OBCE and presented the alternative report at the conference in Warsaw. It is obvious that some state structures are interested in the creation of the system of total control.
In the opinion of Robert Menar, the general secretary of “Reporters”, the Internet became the main target of the USS activities. He mentioned the attempts of the state organs to deprive the company “Hostmaster” of the right to administer the Ukrainian domain .ua and the activities of the USS for the legalization of monitoring.
If the providers and telephone stations would install the equipment for informational monitoring and would register the Internet users, then the freedom of speech would be extirpated soon. Such control by special services is not only a violation of ethical norms and constitutional rights, but also a violation of the main principles of business, in particular, the principle of commercial secret. The special services always tried “to take the preventive measures”, but even in Soviet times the prosecutors warrant was needed for realization of such initiatives, and the control was not so total as now. It is strange, why the special services want to interfere legally in our private life now, when Ukraine is striving for democracy?
Even if the providers would break the agreements with their clients, which agreements restrict the right to control the users, and would begin to realize the monitoring, this would need much time and serious financing.
Yet, some informational control in the Internet may be carried out even now: several commands from the providers server are enough for reading an electronic message. The search system can be used, which would find the messages by key words. If a letter contains some words from the special list, then a copy of this letter would be sent to the monitoring center. At that, nobody guarantees the protection from correction, i.e. changing the contents of e-mail: the messages can be changed or lost.
(«Podrobnosti», No. 43, 6 November 2003)
Legal principles of the monitoring of telecommunications
(Report at the public hearings of the draft of the Law of Ukraine “On the monitoring of telecommunications”, Kyiv, 26 November 2003)
Article 31 of the Constitution guarantees the confidence of correspondence, telephone talks, telegraph and other correspondence. The exceptions may be permitted only by court and only in the cases envisaged by law “with the aim to prevent a crime or to learn the truth during investigation of a criminal case, if there are no other ways to get the information”.
The procedure of realization of such exceptional measures is regulated by the Law of Ukraine “On the ODA”, which was adopted on 18 February 1992 (with numerous amendments and changes introduced in 1992-2003) and Article 187 of the Criminal-Procedural Code (version of 21 June 2001).
According to part 1 Article 5 of the draft, the monitoring “is realized with the aim of search and fixation of factual data about the unlawful actions of separate persons and groups, espionage and subversive activities of foreign special services and organizations, as well as getting the information connected with the security of citizens, society and state”. This vague and indistinct definition is made more accurate owing to the remark that the monitoring is realized exceptionally as a method of the ODA, intelligence and counterespionage activities on the basis of corresponding laws. Part 5 Article 9 of the Law on the ODA reads: “The violation of rights and freedoms of physical and juridical persons during the ODA is prohibited. Some concrete cases of the restriction of these rights and freedoms have the exceptional and temporary character and may be applied only after a corresponding court decision and only to a person, whose actions contain the features of a grave or especially grave crime, or, in the cases envisaged by the Ukrainian legislation, for the protection of rights and freedoms of other persons and the security of the society”. Thus, the monitoring may be realized only after a court decision in the cases, where a grave or especially grave crime was committed.
It is noteworthy that part 14 Article 9 contains somewhat different definition: “The ODA connected with the temporary restriction of human rights are carried out with the aim to prevent grave or especially grave crimes, their stoppage and disclosure, search of the persons dodging from criminal responsibility or missing, protection of life, health, dwelling and property of the workers of court and law-enforcing organs, struggle with espionage and subversive activities directed against Ukraine. If the necessity exists to realize these measures immediately, then the detective department must, within 24 hours, inform a court or a prosecutor about the realization and grounds for the application of these measures”. We want to point out that part 5 mentions only the ODA applied to a concrete person, whereas part 14 – the ODA that are applied not only to concrete person. In the opinion of Sweden professor Dennis Tellborg, the main goal of the secret supervision is not the search of a criminal, but the establishment of the very presence of the crime. When special services carry out the detective activities directed against the organized crime, drug traffickers, etc., they work before the commitment of the crime, and the aim of these ODA is to collect the information about a criminal, criminal group of possible violence actions (for instance, a terrorist act). In other words, it is frequently impossible to concretize the aim of the supervision on the stage, when the appeal is handed to court about the permission for this supervision. In such cases the obtaining of the permission becomes senseless, and the special services, in fact, can organize the supervision without any court control. So, the procedure of obtaining the court sanction must be distinctly defined by laws, and the formulation of the guarantees against the misuses becomes the most important question.
Unfortunately, the procedure of issuing the court permission is still based on Letter of the Supreme Court No. 16/6 of 19 November 1996 “On the temporary procedure of consideration of the materials about issuing permission for getting into dwelling or other estate of a person, seizure of correspondence and the collection of information from communication channels (telephone talks, telegraph and other correspondence)”. The letter contains only general principles of issuing the permission for realizing the ODA. Neither the maximal term of validity of the permission nor the term, for which the permission may be prolonged, are stipulated. The corresponding laws of other countries clearly stipulate the period of the action of such permission: 4 months in France, 3 – in Germany, 1 – in Finland and Sweden, 1.5 – in Hungary, 6 – in Russia, etc. Earlier this term in Ukraine was equal to 6 months, since the norm existed about the destruction of case materials, if any data confirming the commitment of a crime by the person, whom the ODA concerned, had not been found. Yet, this norm was abolished.
Items 6 and 7 of the Letter of the Supreme Court are also rather doubtful. However, we will not analyze the provisions of this letter. I can understand the Supreme Court, which had to issue this document within a very short time. But I cannot understand the legislators, who still have not regulated the procedure of issuing and prolonging the sanction for realization of the ODA restricting the constitutional rights of citizens. Yet, the Law on the ODA was changed 11 times since 1996! It is noteworthy that the procedure of issuing the permission for seizure of correspondence and the collection of information from communication channels during the investigation of criminal cases is described in details in Article 187 of the Criminal-Procedural Code, but this Article also does not contain either the maximal term of the action of this permission or the provision on regular court control. And the procedure of issuing the permission for getting into dwelling or other estate is not regulated by the CPC at all.
Thus, the courts apply Letter No. 16/6, the juridical validity of which is very doubtful. This letter is not related to normative legal acts, it may not even be called a quasi-source of right, as, for example, the recommendations of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. This letter is absent in the system “LIGA-Zakon”, and that is very strange, since this system contains all normative acts registered by the Ministry of Justice. I turned with the request to input the Supreme Court letter into the system, but received the following response: “It is impossible to input this document of the Supreme Court to the system, since it was not made public. Besides, judging from the title, it is an internal document, so we will not be able to obtain it”. So, the considered letter was not registered in the Unified register of normative acts of Ukraine. As a result, the letter may not be regarded as valid, because, according to Article 57 of the Constitution, “laws and other normative legal acts, stipulating the rights and freedoms of citizens, which were not made public in compliance with legal procedure, are invalid”. I believe that this situation visually illustrates the real, and not declarative, attitude of the Ukrainian state power to human rights. At that, the scale of the secret surveillance in Ukraine is astonishing: according to the information given by a judge of the Supreme Court at a recent conference, more than 40000 permissions for collecting the information from communication channels were issued in 2002, among them 4000 – in the Kharkov oblast. It should be interesting to compare these data with the number of persons accused by Ukrainian courts in 2002 for the commitment of grave and especially grave crimes: 41211. So, it is logical to suggest that the ODA were, first of all, directed at the disclosure of organized groups and criminal organizations. In 2002 the law-enforcers disclosed 722 groups consisting of 3205 members, who had committed 6467 crimes. 653 persons were condemned for the crimes committed by organized groups. In 2002 in Kharkov oblast 51 organized groups and 237 members of these groups were disclosed. All in all, 3793 persons were convicted. So, for what 4000 permissions for collecting the information from communication channels were issued? In my opinion, these numbers are incommensurable. Thus, it is necessary to publish the annual reports containing the data about the number of issued sanctions, number of refusals, kinds of crimes connected with the sanctions, average duration of the collection of information from the communication channels, the quantity of criminal case started after the results of the ODA, etc.
There is one more problem. The Internet ignores the state frontiers and, intercepting the correspondence of a Ukrainian citizen, the law-enforcing organs will interfere in the process of his information exchange with citizens of other countries, although they have no right to do that. Today neither the law draft nor the Law on the ODA take this into account. It is also obvious that the monitoring is something more than “the collection of information from communication channels” applied to concrete persons, which is stipulated by the Law on the ODA. It is seen from the demands to the monitoring system that the entire traffic would be traced, not only the traffic of the person suspected of a committed or prepared crime. That resembles the actions of a fisher, who tries to catch a fish with sweep-net. It is clear that the real goal of the monitoring is not to disclose a concrete criminal, but to find him, to obtain the information about the preparation to a crime or about an already committed crime. Yet, the court sanction becomes senseless under such conditions, and the opportunities for misuses are limitless. Neither the law draft on monitoring nor the Law on the ODA consider the traffic as an object of legal regulation and, correspondingly, the question does not emerge about the guarantees of law observance. However, this question is extremely important in the context of the observance of the right for privacy.
Moreover, even the guarantees that are envisaged by the draft are very unreliable, and the independent control of law observance is absent at all. Article 10 orders to destroy the messages collected by mistake; there are no other instructions on the storage of information except the remark that the procedure of keeping, storage and use of the protocols of monitoring is stipulated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Article 12 reads that the information concerning private life, honor and dignity of citizens, which became known in the course of monitoring, may not be divulged. Article 9 of the Law on the ODA contains more serious guarantees of law observance during the ODA; these guarantees should be also applied to the monitoring system, when the monitoring is regarded as a method of the ODA. If the grounds for realizing the ODA exist, then a case must be instituted, otherwise the ODA are prohibited. The resolution is issued, which contains the following data: the place and time of the issue, post and surname of the person, which signed it, grounds and aim of the institution of the case. In the cases of violation of the rights and freedoms of physical or juridical persons in the course of the ODA or in the cases, where the connection of the person, to whom these actions were applied, to a crime was not confirmed, the units realizing the ODA must immediately restore the abused rights and recompense the moral and material damage. Ukrainian citizens and other persons have the legal right to obtain from the organs, which realized the ODA, the written explanations about the restriction of their rights and freedoms and to complain against these actions. The information concerning private life, honor and dignity of citizens, which became known in the course of ODA, must be destroyed, if it does not contain the information about the illegal actions (parts 1, 8, 10 and 12 of Article 9). Unfortunately, the norm was removed from part 3 Article 9 about the destruction of the case materials, if the data confirming the commitment of a crime by the person, which was the object of the ODA, were not found within 6 months.
Naturally, the guarantees of law observance in the draft and in the law on the ODA must be agreed. Yet, these guarantees provide very ineffective protection from the misuses, especially if to compare them with the guarantees in German of Hungarian laws, which envisage the parliamentary supervision over the legality of the interception of correspondence with the assistance of supervision organs. Everyone, who reckons that his correspondence is illegally controlled by special services, may turn to these organs. It is interesting that the German committee G-10 is informed by the minister about all restricting measures permitted by him before the beginning of the interception of correspondence. The committee has the right to cancel the ministers order, after which the interception must be stopped immediately, if it has been started before getting the permission because of urgency. After the end of the interception the person, whose correspondence has been controlled, must be informed about these actions “if that will not harm the investigation”. All unneeded information must be destroyed.
In my opinion, both the draft on the monitoring of telecommunications and the more generalized law on the ODA are unsatisfactory from the viewpoint of guaranteeing the right for privacy and contradict the international standards in this sphere, since they contain the latent opportunities for the violation of Article 8 of the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Let us sum up. The draft of the law on monitoring of telecommunications envisages the excessive authorities of the USS, lays the financial burden connected with the introduction of monitoring system on the providers, does not give the clear and correctly formulated legal grounds for the introduction of monitoring system and does not contain the reliable guarantees against misuses. The draft can cause the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, first of all, of the right for privacy. So, it should be advisable to compile this draft anew, taking into account the norms of the draft on the protection of personal data (similar changes must be introduced into the law on the ODA) and the following recommendations.
1. The list of the crimes, in the connection with which the collection of the information from the communication channels is permitted, must be decreased; this list must be included to the law.
2. The law must be supplemented with the description of the procedure of obtaining and prolonging the sanction for the interception of correspondence and with the norm on the limitation of the term of action of this sanction. It is also desirable to pass the court decision from the computer of the judge, who is empowered to issue the permission, directly to the monitoring system, as well as to provide the receiving by judge of the results of the monitoring directly from the system for consideration of the question about the prolongation of the sanction.
3. The law must be supplemented with the rules of storage, use and destruction of the collected materials, in particular, the rules of the interchange of the materials between various organs, and the rules of compiling the concluding reports. Special attention should be paid to the legal regulation of the control over the traffic.
4. The procedure of collecting the information from the communication channels should be more transparent, the norm must be introduced about the obligatory informing of the person, whose correspondence was intercepted, after the end of the interception, and familiarization of the person with the obtained materials, which does not contain the information related to state secrets (similar norms exist in the laws of Germany, Austria and other countries). Under such conditions it will be possible to put into practice the provisions on the appellation against the illegal actions of the agencies, which carry out the ODA.
5. In order to inform the public about the scale of the secret interception of correspondence, the norms must be introduced on the publication of annual reports, which should contain the information about the number of issued sanctions for interception and the kinds of crimes, in the connection with which the decision on interception was taken, the number of the refusals to issue the sanctions and other information. Such practice exists in the USA and many European countries.
6. It is necessary to create the institute of independent surveillance over the legality of monitoring, which, on the one side, would receive automatically the copies of all intercepted information, and, on the other side, would consider the complaints against the illegal collection of information from the communication channels. These functions can be given, for instance, to the department of the secretariat of the ombudsperson in charge of the observance of the right for the protection of personal information.
7. The questions concerning the financing of the development and introduction of the monitoring system must be considered on the basis of the agreement between the USS and the providers, taking into account the anti-monopoly laws and the practices of the European Court concerning Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
8. The entry code of the monitoring system software and the algorithm of the monitoring must be open (by the way, the entry code and other peculiarities of the similar system in the USA -- Carnivore – were published in autumn 2000, approximately 6 months after it became known about the work of the system).
 Wiretapping in international right and legislation of eleven European countries. – Kharkov: “Folio”, 1999. – 152 p.
 These and other statistical data: “Visnyk Verkhovnogo Sudu Ukrainy”, 2003, No. 3 and No. 4.
To President Leonid Kuchma
We are turning to you in the connection with the approval of the Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications” by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine. The human rights protecting organizations reckon that this law endangers the rights of Ukrainian citizens, contradicts the interests of the society and the Ukrainian state as a whole. We have to state that, unfortunately, neither the representatives of parliamentary majority nor the representatives of opposition were guided by the interests of the society during the consideration of the draft.
The Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications”, which was approved by the Supreme Rada, contains the norm that obliges the operators of telecommunications to install at their expense the equipment, which would allow the law-enforcing organs to collect the information from the communication channels. We understand that law-enforcing organs must resort to such measures for protecting the national security and guaranteeing the public order, but we also reckon that this norm will have the consequences negative for the Ukrainian society.
First, coming into force of this law in the present version means the monopolization of the market of telecommunication services by several great companies; this will hamper the development of the market and competition, will impede the development of the Internet in small settlements.
Secondly, even the USS officers admit that they does not know how much the installation of the monitoring equipment will cost to the providers of the telecommunication services (and, ultimately, to the users). We are surprised by the willingness of the members of the Ukrainian Parliament to burden the Ukrainian citizens with the expenses, which amount is even unknown yet.
Thirdly, the measures for guaranteeing the state security and public order are taken in interests of all Ukrainian society, so they must be financed by all tax payers, but not only the users of telecommunications.
Fourthly, coming into effect of this law will result in the increase of the tariffs for the telecommunication services. As a result, the majority of the Ukrainian citizens will not be able to pay for these services.
Fifthly, as the Supreme Rada Main scientific and expert bureau correctly pointed out in its conclusion, the idea to install the equipment for collecting the information from the communication channels at the expense of telecommunications providers contradicts to the norms of the operating Law of Ukraine “On entrepreneurial activities” (parts 2-3 Article 12 and part 2 Article 13), in particular in the part concerning the guarantees of property rights of businessmen.
Sixthly, the Supreme Rada of Ukraine has not considered yet the law draft “On monitoring of telecommunications”, which envisages the procedure of collecting the information from the communication channels. So, we think that the introduction of the norms about the installation of the monitoring equipment must be postponed until the legislation would regulate the questions of adequate protection of the constitutional right of citizens for the privacy of correspondence, the extent of the authorities of law-enforcing organs and the procedure of carrying out the monitoring.
Seventhly, the attempts of the Security Service of Ukraine to introduce its control over the access to the Internet, distribution of information, access to informational resources and domain names are realized in the drafts, prepared with the participation of the USS, such as “On telecommunications”, “On monitoring of telecommunications”, “On the activities in the sphere of informatization”, and these drafts have already evoked the negative reaction of many international organizations.
We hope for your sincere intentions to promote the development of informatization in Ukraine and the access of the Ukrainian citizens to the Internet, which intentions are reflected in Edict No. 928 “On the measures for the development of the national component of the global informational network Internet and guaranteeing the broad access to this network in Ukraine” of 31 July 2000. Thus, we are asking you to use your constitutional authorities and to return the Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications” to the Supreme Rada with the proposition to introduce the proper changes.
Secretariat of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations
Sevastopol human rights protecting group
Kharkov group for human rights protection
Podilsk center of human rights
Center of juridical and political research “SIM”
Public committee of national security of Ukraine
Parliament started to regulate the Internet
The Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted in the third reading the Law “On telecommunications”. Along with the cancellation of the rule about free incoming calls, which is very important for the customers, this law stipulates the opportunity for the permanent monitoring of the Internet.
In particular, Article 39 of the Law “on telecommunications” reads: “4. Operators of telecommunications must (at their own expense) install on their telecommunication networks the equipment for realizing the ODA by competent organs, guarantee the proper work of this equipment, assist in the ODA and the measures for preventing the divulgence of the organizational and tactical methods of these activities. The operators also must guarantee the protection of the equipment from the unauthorized access”.
We believe that this provision will become a legal ground for the USS to make all providers of telecommunications to install the monitoring equipment, owing to which the security service would be able to control every user, including his electronic correspondence.
Thus, from the moment when the President will sign this law, every user should know that his every step in the Internet and all electronic messages will be permanently traced by special services.
The providers, in their turn, will suffer essential losses (tens of thousands dollars, according to the preliminary assessment), which will inevitably result in the growth of cost of their services.
So, in fact, the special services will spy on us at our own expense for, allegedly, our own safety. Well, this is a real Soviet logic!
The law was adopted almost unanimously: 296 MPs voted for this law and nobody voted against.
Some time before the MPs adopted in the first reading the draft of the law “On the activities in the sphere of informatization”, which regulates the Internet and other similar systems. 269 MPs took part in the voting, all of them supported the draft. So we see that no right for privacy exists for the MPs…
Secretariat of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations
Company “Hostmaster” lost the case in the Economic court of Kyiv
On the past Friday the company “Hostmaster”, the acting administrator of the domain .ua, handed the appeal against the decision of the Economic court of Kyiv. The Economic court had rejected the suit of “Hostmaster” and acknowledged the governmental decree of 22 July “On administration of the domain .ua” to be valid.
This information was communicated to the agency “Interfax-Ukraine” by the manager of the company “Hostmaster”.
The government endorsed the initiative of the USS and the State communication committee and passed the administrative functions to the Ukrainian Network Informational Center (UNIC). “Hostmaster” appealed against this decree, because, in its opinion, the government had no right to meddle into the economic activities of the enterprise.
On 7 October the Economic court of Kyiv considered the claim of “Hostmaster” and refused to satisfy the demands stated in the writ. The judge resolved that the decree did not violate the rights of “Hostmaster”, since the company could work together with the UNIC.
The court also pointed out that the rules of the ICANN were not regarded as a source of right in Ukraine and could not be applied by court.
The domain .ua was rendered by the international organization IANA (which is called ICANN now) to Ukrainian citizens Dmitriy Kokhmaniuk and Igor Sviridov in 1992. Before 2001 the domain was developed by several enthusiasts, who had created the Ukrainian network coordination group (UANCG). In 2001 they founded the company “Hostmaster”, which concluded the agreement with D. Kokhmaniuk and I. Sviridov and began to administer the domain. The Ukrainian government started to claim their rights to the domain since 2001.
Initially it had been planned that the state share in the enterprise, which was called the UNIC, would be 25%, but later this share increased to 50%.
The creation of the UNIC was accompanied with a scandal: the greatest providers association “Internet-Association of Ukraine”, which united 70 participants of the market (including the large-scale providing companies) and took part in the negotiations on the creation of such center, refused from membership in the UNIC, since “the UNIC did not reflect in full the interests of the state and society”.
The state registration of the UNIC was completed the last week.
In the end of October the international human rights protecting organization “Reporters without frontiers” spread the appeal, in which this organization expressed its anxiety about the attempts of the USS to take control of the domain .ua. In particular, the human rights protectors mentioned the endeavor of state organs to take away the administration of the domain from the company “Hostmaster”. “Reporters without frontiers” sent a copy of the appeal to the ICANN.
(«Interfax-Ukraine», 17 November 2003, www.interfax.kiev.ua)
18 November is the doomsday of the Ukrainian Internet
Thanks to the laws, which were adopted on 18 November, Ukraine swiftly joins the ranks of such countries as Saudi Arabia and China, where the control over the Internet is very strong.
All MPs, who voted for the drafts of the laws “On the activities in the sphere of informatization” and “On telecommunications”, made a splendid present to the power. The Internet, one of the not numerous spheres, where the independent mass media can exist, becomes less and less free.
According to the first law draft, every existing mass media may be recognized as violating laws and may be closed.
According to the second draft, the total monitoring of the Internet users is introduced by means of special equipment installed in the providing companies (naturally, at the expense of the providers).
All this, together with the successful attempts of the state to put the domain .ua under the control of special services, confirms that the power prepared well for the pressure on the Internet-editions during the coming election. So, we want to give our compliments to the oppositional MPs, who voted for these drafts.
(maidan.org.ua, «The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 56, 21 November 2003)
Today, on 18 November, the Law of Ukraine “On the activities in the sphere of informatization” has been adopted in the first reading.
We have already written about this law. On 3 July the conference “Control and censorship endangers the Internet in Ukraine” was held, at which the representatives of Internet mass media explained why this law might not be adopted even in the first reading.
Alas, the communists and the Socialist Party of Ukraine almost unanimously ignored all warnings and voted for this law, which would give the opportunity to the power to suppress the Internet-editions. The behavior of communists is not very surprising: for instance, the committee of communist Kriuchkov, use to promote the laws that help the power to destroy its opponents, and recently this fraction cooperates with the pro-President majority. Yet, the actions of socialists are strange.
However, there is a slender hope that the law draft will not be adopted in the present reactionary version.
If the law “On telecommunications” would be adopted today too, then this day would become the doomsday of the Ukrainian Internet.
(«Maydan», 18 November 2003, maidan.org.ua)
Non-governmental organizations that deal with the freedom of expression
Kyiv independent media trade union will create “the group of fast response”
Kyiv independent media trade union (KIMTU) plans to create “the group of fast response”, which would visit the regions, collect the information about the attacks and pressure on journalists and “present this information to the journalistic community”.
This information was made public by Sergiy Guz, the head of the KIMTU, at the conference “Social protection of journalists. Role of trade unions. Ukrainian and Western experience”, which was held on 14 November in Kyiv. According to Guz, the group will include the professional journalists, who specialize in journalistic investigations. “The media trade union, in its turn, will react through the General Prosecutors office, Ministry of Interior and international trade unions”, remarked S. Guz. He informed that the KIMTU would realize the juridical support of journalists during the presidential election campaign and conduct the monitoring of mass media.
The head of the KIMTU told about the recent negotiations with the International Federation of journalists: “We have arranged about the entry of our trade union to this international organization”. S. Guz also pointed out that the media trade union was carrying on the negotiations about cooperation with British and German unions of journalists.
Mr. Guz informed the participants of the conference about the planned social-economic study of the conditions of work of journalists “in order to facilitate the relations with the Ministry of Labor and the Federation of employers”. According to his words, the anonymous poll showed that 70% of journalists got the “illegal salaries”, and about 50% -- had no official labor agreements.
The leader of the KIMTU also proposed to establish the minimal salary for journalists. Journalist Ives-Claude York from the agency “France-Press” told that the minimal salary of a French journalist- probationer was about 1300 Euro per month (2500 Euro in Paris).
Natalya Ligachova, the head of the Internet edition “Telekritika”, declared in her speech at the conference that media trade unions “have not become yet a real guarantee of the protection of journalists interests” and that Ukrainian journalists “do not have the real professional solidarity yet”. According to N. Ligachova, the poll and the recent Forum of Ukrainian journalists “Election without censorship” demonstrated that “the majority of journalists do not believe that the top managers of mass media and publishers are able to come to the agreement about the rules of honest struggle during presidential election campaign”.
(UNIAN, “The Poltava oblast media club”, No. 55, 17 November 2003)