New law on judicial reform could return Ukraine to secretive court proceedings
The changes, proposed by President Poroshenko, would be a serious step backwards away from the greater court transparency achieved since Maidan
Journalists under investigation for divulging judges’ rulings from foreign beaches
A recent report on holidays abroad taken by Kyiv judges and on rulings some of them appear to have ‘issued’ while far from Ukraine has provoked reaction from the Prosecutor General’s Office. Not, however, the one you might expect with a criminal investigation launched over supposed “divulgence of information on special access”. .
Dangerous ’Truth’ Ministry to defend nebulous ‘national information security’
Fears that the creation of a new Ukrainian ’ministry of information policy’ is an attempt to create an Orwellian Truth Ministry are refuted by those in power but hardly assuaged by the fact that nobody has any idea what ‘information policy’ means, nor the ‘information security’ that it will be dealing with
Russia accuses Ukraine of ‘annexing’ Crimea
Russia’s parliamentary speaker, Sergei Naryshkin has asserted that it was Ukraine that annexed the Crimea, not Russia. Moscow, one senses, has understood that there’s no getting away from the word ‘annexation’ and is trying to hijack it.
Luhansk: Kremlin-backed militants cut off Ukrainian TV channels
Such attempts at an information blockade are not new. Both the puppet ’government’ in the Crimea and Kremlin-backed militants have sought to gain control of TV and radio frequencies, with Russian propaganda channels being broadcast instead
Crucial move to cut secrecy on public spending
A minimum majority in the Verkhovna Rada (226 MPs) has managed to pass an important law opening up information about public procurement and revoking legislative moves under the previous administration which hid vast amounts of public funding from public view
Behind the declarations: how public officials lived – and live now
Public officials under Viktor Yanukovych spent amounts vastly in excess of the figures they officially earned or received in dividends, etc. Those who monitored officials back then have no intention of shutting up shop now and will be watching officials in 2014 just as closely
Parliament passes law improving access to public information
The amendments ensure access to decisions taken by local bodies and to bodies of power in general. Access to information about central and local budgets is broadened, as well as to information about salaries, civil servants and general city plans.
Journalists to be cordoned off in parliament
Journalists suspect the Party of the Regions of being behind an incident in the Verkhovna Rada which may lead to the journalists’ balcony being cordoned off with a glass wall which will protect MPs from having their votes for truant colleagues recorded
Ongoing assault on “Open Access”
Yet another showing of the documentary film collection “Open Access” has been deliberately sabotaged, this time in Donetsk. A man spilt some stinking substance and the room had to be evacuated.
Dangerous public information draft bill withdrawn
A scandalous bill proposing dangerous restrictions on access to public information has been withdrawn following deservedly unfavourable publicity
President’s excess spending at expense of student grants and Shevchenko Prize
The civic network OPORA reports attempts to prevent its representative attending a crucial parliamentary budget committee meeting where money was taken from student grants and the State Shevchenko Award to cover President Yanukovych’s extra expenditure
Since the 2011 Public Information Act is deemed one of the current regime’s few success stories, some outrageous informal efforts to restrict access to information of clear public importance and legislative moves with direct impact on such access deserve scrutiny.
Raider seizure or cleanup of State register (updated)
Staff of Derzhinformjust, the body responsible for State registers, assert that the Information Centre had come under a raider seizure. Media reports, however, suggest a much more complicated picture, with a battle for control over a highly lucrative business raging
Court upholds OPORA’s right to information about Verkhovna Rada Office
The information is clearly of public significance and it is disturbing that OPORA not only had to go to court to get access to it, but then had to win an appeal against that ruling.
Right to know stops short of Mezhyhirya
There have been further measures aimed at preventing Ukrainians from viewing a documentary about Yanukovych’s controversial residence at Mezhyhirya
Inconvenient truths about Yanukovych a state secret?
Customs officers stopped and detained two young women taking the film “Open Access” to Berlin and now want to check it for state secrets. As Natalya Sokolenko writes, it contains no state secret, only state shame, its name being Mezhyhirya (the President’s highly controversial residence
Parliamentarians’ secrecy regarding income given judicial OK
The District Administrative Court in Kyiv, under Judge Arina Lytvynova, upheld the refusal by the Verkhovna Rada Office to provide members of the public with copies of MPs’ income declarations
Verkhovna Rada and Constitutional Court least willing to divulge public information
According to Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Media Law Institute, it is virtually impossible to win law suits against Ukraine’s Parliament and Constitutional Court demanding that public information be divulged
Court rejects Verkhovna Rada claim that staffing details are not for the public
A court has ordered the Office of the Verkhovna Rada to provide the civic network OPORA with a copy of the staffing list containing information about the structural subdivisions of the Office, the number of the posts; number of members of staff; and pay for each post