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Media outlets accuse the Presidential Secretariat of interference

25.12.2008   
“Ukrainska Pravda” and “Korespondent.net” are angered over a statement made by the President’s Press Secretary in which she asserted that the question from Internet users which had gained the most votes reflected the interests of Russian users

Two Internet sites – “Ukrainska Pravda” and “Korespondent.net” on Wednesday issued a joint statement over remarks made by the President and representatives of his Secretariat during the President’s annual summing up conference on Tuesday 23 December..  They demand an explanation over what they consider unlawful interference in their activities.

Their anger is specifically over a statement made by the President’s Press Secretary Irina Vannykova in which she asserted that the question from Internet users which had gained the most votes reflected the interests of Russian users.

The question referred to was: “Dear Mr President, please tell me how much we (simple folk) need to pay you so that you, together with all the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, ministers and public officials go abroad once and for all and stop preventing the country from developing normally?”/ It received over 100 thousand votes.

The statement quotes this question then goes on as follows:

“Viktor Yushchenko in answering the most popular question from Internet users called it provocation and said that “two thirds of the authors of this question are not in Ukraine and do not represent the Ukrainian people”. 

Later, before the next question from the Internet audience, Irina Vannykova said the following: “We know with certainly that the first question reflects the interests of Russian Internet users and we therefore hope that the second question from the Internet closely reflects the interests of Ukrainian Internet users”.

After the press conference to sum up the results of the Internet interview, the Head of the President’s Press Service Larisa Mudrak told “Ukrainska Pravda” that the Secretariat had “ordered an expert assessment in the relevant state bodies”. According to “Ukrainska Pravda’s” information, this referred to the State Service for Special Communications and Protection of Information.

In connection with this we would state the following:

Information held by Korrespondent.net shows that the information which the President’s Press Secretary made public is not true.

According to Korrespondent.net’s specialists, as well as to data from open statistics, of those who voted, put questions to the President and visited the special webpage created for this, around 80% were Ukrainian users.

That means that Irina Vannykova effectively lied in a live broadcast, placing in question the civic position of thousands of Ukrainian Internet users.

Korrespondent.net is prepared to provide all information it holds regarding the voting to an independent commission if the President’s Secretariat insists on its version. It does however consider that it would be impossible for such a commission to include representatives of the enforcement agencies of the SBU [Security Service) since the IP addresses are private information which much not be divulged.

As already mentioned, Larisa Mudrak reported that some kind of state structures had carried out an expert assessment of the voting data. Yet according to our specialists, without access to our servers it would be impossible to analyze the voting statistics. It would be possible to receive such information either with the knowledge of the provider (which was not the case), or through a court ruling, or by illicit means, i.e. simply hacking into the server.

Korrespondent.net did not give its consent to an analysis of information on voting on our sites. This means that the possible gathering of such data is a direct violation of the law, freedom of speech and expression.

Korrespondent.net demands that the President’s Secretariat gives an explanation for the information given at the concluding press conference of Viktor Yushchenko broadcast live.

Failure to provide an answer will be deemed a violation of the principles of freedom of speech. Unfortunately in Ukraine it has become the rule to leave without response publicly important information uncovered by journalists.

The Internet audience’s questions for Viktor Yushchenko were collected over two weeks from 9 December. Korrespondent.net readers could ask their questions and vote for questions on a webpage specially created.

At first it had been planned that Viktor Yushchenko would answer Internet users’ questions during his Internet conference on 16 December. However on 12 December the President’s press service stated that the Internet conference would not take place due to the President’s chairing an emergency meeting regarding heating supplies being disconnected, and considerable wages arrears, and that Viktor Yushchenko would answer the Internet users during his annual summing up press conference.

Over 17,000 questions were collected over two weeks which were voted for by around 1,8 million users. At the press conference on Tuesday the President answered three questions from the Internet audience.

From the Ukrainian at: http://ua.korrespondent.net/ukraine/689535

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