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Stop Censorship protests smear tactics against NGOs and media

Stop Censorship and a number of NGOs have expressed outrage over the smear campaign underway aimed at discrediting NGOs and independent media. This follows an unprecedented attack on Oksana Romanyuk from the Institute for Mass Information

Stop Censorship and a number of other civic organizations have issued a statement expressing outrage over the smear campaign underway aimed at discrediting NGOs and independent media.

They write that over the past year there has been a sharp escalation in the number of threats, physical assaults and planned campaigns against journalists and civic activists. In the majority of cases the police have failed to respond adequately.  Cases have become more frequent where false or deliberately distorted information about civic organizations or independent media sources have been circulated.

The most flagrant such example is the unauthorized gaining of access to the emails and computer of the Executive Director of the Institute for Mass Information, Oksana Romanyuk and publication on a specially created website of private material.

The statement goes on to say that such actions demonstrate a clear aim to cause maximum harm to the reputation of civic organizations and journalists.

They point out that state-owned media sources are playing an active role in this smear campaign.  On Oct. 5 the State-controlled UTV-1 carried a biased report about a picket against the organizers and participants of a seminar on journalist standards run by Telekritika in Vinnytsa. The state TV channel’s material was unbalanced and one-sided, putting forward a number of assumptions and accusations which the organizers and participants were not given a chance to respond to.

Stop Censorship stresses that the NGOs under attack in this smear campaign are acting in full accordance with the law and international standards of openness and transparency of civic organizations.

This openness must not, they stress, be used as an opportunity for illicitly gaining access to technical means used by staff of the organizations.

The actions against NGOs and independent media should, they stress, be treated as obstruction of journalists carrying out their work (article 171 of the Criminal Code); Article 182 (intrusion into private life); Article 163 § 2 (infringing confidentiality of correspondence); and Article 361 (unlawful entry).

They demand that the Police, the Prosecutor General and Security Service carry out an investigation and find those responsible.

Oksana Romanyuk announced on Wednesday that she had reported the actions against her to the police. Thorougly scurrilous allegations were made about her on the Internet site “Ukrainska Kryvda” which is a clone of the popular website Ukrainska Pravda originally begun by slain journalist Georgy Gongadze. 

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