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Mykolaiv officials cite martial law as the reason for not answering a journalist's request regarding salaries

08.02.2023, 12:51

Officials and managers of Mykolaiv communal enterprises refused to provide a journalist with information about the salaries received by civil servants and employees of communal enterprises in 2022, explaining this by "force majeure circumstances" that arose due to the full-scale war in Ukraine.

Journalist Anastasia Mykhailova, "NikLife" editor-in-chief, reported this on Facebook, posting copies of the responses she received from the City Council.

According to the journalist, she wrote to the City Council with a request regarding the salaries received by civil servants and employees of communal enterprises in 2022. However, she only received excuses in response.

"I received several dozen identical letters from various city departments, offices, administrations and utility companies saying: 'There's a war.' 98% of all whom it concerns rejected my request. Nice! I am sincerely glad that we finally have such synergy, cohesion and camaraderie in local self-government bodies, from managers to experts and ordinary employees. I would like to take this opportunity to do a shout out to the entire journalistic community, which has been self-censoring, withholding questions, obeying all the rules and trying in every way from the very start of the invasion so as not to harm anyone or anything for the sake of our shared Victory. Friends, we seem to have missed something," Anastasia Mykhailova wrote.

At the same time, according to the IMI representative in Mykolaiv oblast, other journalists did receive comprehensive answers to their requests from the executive bodies of the Mykolaiv City Council as recently as January–February 2023. Therefore, the IMI representative noted, the the City Council failing to provide an answer to Anastasia Mykhailova may indicate selective approach and discrimination of certain media by Mykolaiv officials.

Earlier, IMI wrote that since the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, the Institute of Mass Information has recorded multiple instances of state bodies postponing the fulfilment of information requests until the martial law is lifted.

The situation with the delays can be explained by Article 22 Part 6 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information", which reads: "Delay in satisfying a request for information is allowed if the requested information cannot be provided for viewing within the time limit provided by this Law due to force majeure circumstances." According to the Ukrainian legal doctrine, military hostilities are usually considered force majeure circumstances.

Whether the administration was objectively unable to provide a timely answer can be verified either by a higher state body or by the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner on Human Rights. Filing a lawsuit with the administrative court is also an option, but it should be noted that this is a long journey and one should have evidence that the hostilities do not prevent the relevant administrator from providing a timely response to the request.

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