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Claims worth millions threaten Ukrainian mass-media

22.11.2011, 01:42
On July 28th President Viktor Yanukovych signed a law "On the Court Fee" which does not contain provisions which protect journalists from unreasonable lawsuits for defense of honor, dignity and professional reputation. The Law enters into force on November 1, 2011.

So far, in proportion to the size of a claim against a journalist or media the fee of 10% was set. For example, if the plaintiff had wanted to seek moral damages worth a million hryvnas, he had to pay 100 thousand hryvnas. After the adoption of this law, such provision is not applied.

After President Viktor Yanukovych signed a law "On the Court Fee," the current fee proportional to 10% of the claim size for compensation for moral damage does not exist any more.

By paying a little less than three thousand hryvnas fee, the plaintiff shall be entitled to bring claims worth millions against newspapers and other media that he/she does not like.

The norm, according to which for compensation of moral (non-property) damages of more than 10 thousand non-taxable minimum (170 thousand hryvnas) of amount the plaintiff paid a tenth part of the claim, has existed for 8 years in Ukraine. As a result claims of unreasonable high amount were not entered, - the media experts say.

By 2003, officials have used the lawsuits to suppress the media, especially newspapers. For example, in late 1990's newspaper "Vseukrajinski Vidomosti" was suppressed after the claim against it. The court made a decision that the newspaper was to pay 3.5 million hryvnas to football club "Dynamo" (Kyiv) for the publication that the club had been going to sell one of its best players to foreign teams.

Institute for Media Law, introduced through MP Andriy Shevchenko offers to establish a 10% fee in case the claim for compensation for moral damages has the price of more than 300 minimum wages. Such offers were rejected.

The statements of NGOs (Institute for Media Law, Institute of Mass Information, "Telekrytyka" Civil Service "Svidomo", the Kyiv Independent Media Union, the Ukrainian Press Academy) on this bill have also been ignored.


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