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Municipal council in Donetsk region denied access to journalist. Police denied to institute proceedings

10.03.2020, 18:21

The Dobropilsk city council (Donetsk region) denied access to public information to journalist Artem Yegorov. And the police refused to institute proceedings, saying his press card mentioned he was “correspondent”, not “journalist”.

The journalist reported about the incident to Yuliya Garkusha, IMI regional representative in the Donetsk region (not occupied territories).

The officials denied to provide information to the refusal to respond to Yegorov’s request for information (dated  of 02/01/2) about use of budget money, referring to non-disclosure clauses of the agreement  they had signed.

Then Artem Egorov filed a complaint to the police saying his journalistic activity was hindered. But the police failed to enter it to the National Register of Pre-trial Investigations (NRPI), explaining that he was not journalist, but correspondent, as to his press card.

For several years, Yegorov has been working for different media outlets, including "Civic patrol of Donetsk region" (the founder of which is NGO "Civic patrol"). The journalist is not going to give up.

"I will get this information anyway. They did not enter my complaint o the NRPI, they classified it as a motion from citizen, not as journalistic request for information, which means that they have 30 days to respond," the journalist said.

In his comments, the IMI lawyer Ali Safarov noted that the specialty "correspondent" is one of the types of the journalist's profession.

"According to the Classifier of Professions, the correspondent belongs to section 2451.2" Writers, Editors and Journalists "and is one of the types of profession of journalist. Thus, according to the note to Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, it is also covered by Article 171 of the Criminal Code (obstruction to activity of journalist – n/tr). Thus, if the case is closed because the person had no the status of a journalist, this decision can be appealed as groundless, enclosing documents testifying his status of the journalist according to the note to Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ", - the lawyer said.

The lawyer also added that one of the types of obstruction of the journalist's professional activity was the illegitimate denial of access to information for the journalist.

"As for the request for public information to be granted by the Dobropillya Municipal Council with reference to the confidentiality of information stipulated in the contract, such refusal does not comply with the laws of Ukraine" On information "," On access to public information, "Ali Safarov said.

As Ali Safarov explained, according to the part 5 of Article 6 of the Law "On Access to Public Information", access to information on disposition of budgetary funds, possession, use or disposal of state, communal property, in particular copies of relevant documents, the conditions of receiving of these funds or property.  "Thus, the provision of an agreement statuating the secrecy of public information is null and void and has no legal consequences. Referring to the confidentiality of public information and refusing to disclose it is an unlawful refusal. That is a criminal offense as it is stipulated in the Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine and provides for criminal penalties of up to fifty non-taxable fines their minimum incomes, or arrest for up to six months, or restraint of liberty for up to three years, "the lawyer said.

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