Journalists will Protect UNIAN Editors
Media and journalists organizations will protect UNIAN editors, who openly claimed about censorship, from pressure and dismissal. Such decision was made by the participants of a round-table discussion on the situation with censorship in the information agency UNIAN, organized by the Stop Censorship! Movement on November, 6, 2012 in the office of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU).
The decision was to organize a commission of journalist organizations that will control the situation. It will serve as a Board that will lead the situation to the results – said Oksana Romaniuk, a rep of Reporters without Boarders in Ukraine.
Media community is also appealing to the Administration of the President, founders and owners of UNIAN, Ineragency Working Group (IWG) on the analysis of compliance with the legislation on freedom of expression and protection of journalists' rights at the President of Ukraine and Committee on freedom of speech and information with the request to consider the situation together with the agency management. We will demand to fire censors and to punish for censorship, - said Oksana Romaniuk. This situation is unique and we should support UNIAN editors as much as we can. Reporters without Boarders are ready to give any support, including legal.
Tetiana Kotiuzhynska, a lawyer of NUJU, thinks that in this situation there are reasons to initiate a criminal case according to P. 2 Art. 171 CC of Ukraine (obstruction to legal journalist activities). We are waiting for the meeting of UNIAN founders, where we should present legal position to protect the employees from dismissal or reduction. We should develop a project of Statute and Regulations of the Editorial Board. The UNION can demand to release the management and discuss the application of P.2 Art. 171 CC of Ukraine. But it is still not clear when the meeting of the founders is due, - said Tetiana Kotiuzhynska. She also reminded that censorship is flagrant violation of the Art. 15, 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Art. 10 of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantee freedom of thought and speech.
Media experts paid attention that UNIAN has already suffered some reputation losses because of the changes in editorial policy, which has negatively influenced the readers' trust and social importance of the resource. According to different ratings, only one year ago UNIAN was of the top five leading news sites, but now the agency went down to the 7th – 8th place.
Victoria Syumar, Executive Director of the Institute of Mass Information, claimed that it is necessary to start with the responsibility of the owners: If they are playing with it then let's tell them that they can not do it. They have to understand their responsibility. At the meeting of IWG we should speak to the reps of law enforcement and find out the legal implications. If the situation comes to the dismissal then we should come and protest near UNIAN and an owner should be told that he loses much more: firstly, it is a good Media resource, secondly, it is money and thirdly, it is a reputation of a Media owner. That is why we have to establish clear and definite rules of the game, - said Mrs Syumar.
Yehor Sobolev, a leader of the Bureau of Journalist Investigations Svivdomo, advised the editors, who claimed about censorship, to explain the UNIAN staff the logistics of their actions. You should explain your colleagues that you want regular work, but not blood. You should explain it not by your attitudes, but real things. Where there are censorship and Jeansa (hidden advertising), the ratings are dropping. As the result, the income goes down and the staff is cut. It is dangerous because if the editor is oriented to earn on Jeansa, he doesn't need journalists. The more staff support he has, the more chances to survive he has, - said Yehor Sobolev. Nataliia Sokolenko, a Head of the Unian Mediafront, suggested to award UNIAN journalists with journalist award.
The participants of a round-table discussion called international organizations and diplomatic missions to record the fact of censorship in Ukraine and demand Ukrainian authority to promote Human Rights and Freedoms and favor spreading realistic information about the situation in Ukraine.
The staff of UNIAN site was represented by Liubov Zhalovaha, an editor, Valentyna Romanenko, an editor, Oleksandr Volynskyi, a night editor, who justified that their management prohibited to criticize Victor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, and other officials at the agency site. Liubov Zhalovaha once more gave examples of censorship, namely, she mentioned the news that were deleted from the site due to the management directives:
- 13.08 Opposition claims about a fake interview of Turchynov;
- 22.08 They threw eggs and rotten fruits at Symonenko;
- 24.08 The connection with a journalist, who secretly got to Mezhyhiria, has suddenly broken;
- 02.09 Media: the interests of the Party of Regions will be represented at the constituencies by 13 members out of 18;
- 29.09 In Donetsk the metallurgists were waiting for Yanukovych for an hour; the meeting lasted for 5 minutes;
- 03.10 A member of the Party of Regions appealed to Court against a journalist because of the post in the social network.
UNIAN top management, invited to a round-table discussion, hasn't come to the meeting.
Stop Censorship! Movement initiated this round-table discussion with the support of the Commission on Journalist Ethics, Institute of Mass Information, National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Reporters without Boarders, and other Media organizations. The reps of international organizations also took part in the event.
On October, 26, 2012, five editors of UNIAN site claimed about censorship from Vadym Osadchyi, a GM. The reason of these action was the fact that GM fined with 200 hrn two editors of the site for publication the news under the title The picket on Bankova: Yanukovych was brought a shoe with a Ney Year tree. They say that before fining, the editors were ordered to delete the news from the site.
Vadym Osadchyi, a GM of UNIAN, gave comments and said that some employees made an attempt to produce UNIAN Media products neutrally and out of context, such as censorship or practice of freedom of speech violations, and they didn't realize the difference between objectivity and subjectivity.
On October, 29, 2012, Stop Censorship! Movement made a ststement about systematic political censorship in Ukraine and the example was a situation in UNIAN. Stop Censorship! Movement demands UNIAN management to stop censer the news and demands the Administration of the President to explain in public the fact of political censorship in Ukraine.
On October, 31, 2012, already 6 editors of UNIAN site published a letter to Vadym Osadchyi, where they indicated the facts of censorship from the management. UNIAN staff said that the management prohibited to write about the activities of Victor Yanukovych, the President, in a negative way and also ordered to follow the activities of Petro Symonenko, a leader of the Communist Party, and one more majoritarian candidate at the constituency 218 during the election campaign.
The Committee on Preserving of Bilychanskyi Forest claimed about their support of the UNIAN editors. Yuriy Stets, a Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Protection of Freedom of Speech and Information, planned to call the Committee to discuss the situation in UNIAN.
Svitlana Ostapa, Bohdan Kutiepov Telecrityca
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