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Kremenchuk journalists demand that the Mayor allow them to attend City Council meetings

03.05.2023, 17:23

Kremenchuk journalists have sent a letter to Mayor Vitaly Maletsky, calling for an end to restrictions on the rights of reporters.

Oleh Bulashev, editor-in-chief of the "Kremenchutska Hazeta", where the journalists published their address, informed the IMI representative in Poltava oblast about this.

The letter to the city authorities was signed by Oleh Bulashev, editor-in-chief of the "Kremenchutska Hazeta"; Olha Minchuk, editor-in-chief of the "Kremenchutsky Telegraf"; Artem Kuzmenko, journalist of the "Prohrama Plus";, Alyona Malichenko, reporter with the "Poltavshchyna. Media Dokaz" Center for Journalistic Investigations; and Iryna Skrypachova, regional correspondent for "TV Espreso".

"The Kremenchuk journalistic community believes that the Law of Ukraine 'On Information', which guarantees journalists the right to freely visit the premises of subjects of power, to attend open events organized by them, and to be personally received by their officials and staff within reasonable timeframes (except for the cases specified by the law), is being violated. Moreover, the Law of Ukraine 'On Access to Public Information' guarantees the right to access public information through the meetings of collegial authorities, except for the cases provided for by the law. All this is reinforced by the dedicated Law of Ukraine 'On Local Self-Government in Ukraine', which stipulates that council sessions should be held publicly and everyone should be granted the right to attend them, except for cases mentioned by the law. The procedure for access to meetings is determined by the Council in accordance with the law. This law also says that the minutes of the Council's sessions should be open and made public and provided upon request in accordance with the Law of Ukraine 'On Access to Public Information,'" the address states.

Kremenchuk media workers cite the example of the Poltava RMA and the Oblast Council, which hold regular meetings with all journalists so that those can ask any questions they may have, all while martial law is in place. In Poltava, journalists are provided with a YouTube link to watch live streams from the Poltava Oblast Council sessions. Similarly, the sessions of the Poltava City Council are livestreamed. Livestreams of the sessions at the Kyiv City Council, the Kryvy Rih, Zaporizhzhia, and other local Councils, as well as meetings of deputy commissions are all open access.

"Unfortunately, the Kremenchuk City Council remains completely closed off to journalists: the content of the meetings of the subcommittees and the draft decisions of the executive committee sessions are never made public, and the committee meetings and sessions of the Kremenchuk City Council are not livestreamed. Also, the orders by Mayor Vitaly Maletsky are practically never posted on the City Council website," Kremenchuk journalists note in their address.

In his comment to the IMI representative in Poltava, Oleh Bulashev, said that they have not received a response from the authorities yet. According to the journalist, the City Council has scheduled a session on May 5, where media workers, as Bulashev expects, will not be allowed again.

"They have never allowed us in since the start of the full-scale war. They only let us in when the parents were rallying against schools being closed and online education being unavailable," says Oleh Bulashev.

In their address, the journalists ask the authorities to listen to their demands, and note that in case they are not admitted again, they will file a statement with the police regarding a criminal offense under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

IMI has not yet been able to get a comment from the City Council.

As IMI reported, the Mykolaiv City Council provided Oksana Orsach, a reporter with the Center for Journalistic Investigations "Nikcenter", with information about the city officials' salaries following a court ruling.

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