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Poltava City Council to audit press office head on journalists' request

07.08.2023, 18:21
Kateryna Yamshchykova and Oleksandr Dedyukhin. Photo by Nadia Kucher
Kateryna Yamshchykova and Oleksandr Dedyukhin. Photo by Nadia Kucher

The Poltava City Council will officially audit the work of Oleksandr Dedyukhin, the head of the City Council's press office, with relation to violation of the law regulating the work of journalists and ensuring the right to information.

This was decided at the round table discussion held in the Poltava City Council on August 7 and involving the acting Mayor and City Council Secretary, Kateryna Yamshchykova, Oleksandr Dedyukhin and journalists, reports the IMI representative in Poltava oblast.

The decision on the audit was made following the review of a formal appeal from journalists, which was submitted to Yamshchykova on August 1. The request comes from the acting mayor.

The meeting between the authorities and journalists was initiated by the journalistic hub Mediabaza Poltava to discuss conflicts and ways to resolve them, to develop a clear and transparent cooperation algorithm that would streamline the cooperation between the mass media and the authorities. In the journalists' address, which the local authorities received from the hub, included a request to hold a round table, reports the IMI representative.

During the round table, media representatives stressed that Oleksandr Dedyukhin, had made offensive statements about journalists while already in office; that media workers still had no means of prompt, full, live communication with Poltava City Council officials, namely with deputy mayors, heads of departments, etc.; it is almost impossible to get the necessary comments quickly.

The journalists also said that a convenient communication channel for the media still has not been created, as had been announced during the first meeting with Dedyukhin. The City Council press office makes announcements regarding most official events and budget funds late or never, the journalists noted.

Acting Mayor Kateryna Yamshchykova listened to the arguments of both sides on each point of the journalists' appeal. After the round table discussion, a temporary Telegram chat for live communication with the City Council press office was created; the authorities promised to post the draft decisions and dates of the deputy commissions' sessions on the website and to conduct an official audit of the press office head.

According to the IMI representative, the existing Telegram channel stopped being updated as soon as Dedyukhin was appointed head of the press office, as it was created and run by the former press office head, Alina Ryabokon. Previously, Dedyukhin had said that the Council should purchase an official phone number and create a single official chat that department heads would be given access to. Until today, journalists were getting their information on the Poltava City Council website, which is not convenient or efficient, the journalists said during the discussion. Some events would also be (selectively) announced on Oleksandr Dedyukhin's own channel.

When asked by the IMI representative why announcements or notices about session meetings and other events sent were never sent to editors and journalists by email in the absence of an official channel for live communication with the press office, Dedyukhin replied that it was a malfunction. The IMI representative also asked him why in the month of his tenure he did not fulfill his promise to publish draft decisions of the Council and the executive committee, including annexes, on the City Council website.

"I insisted to the management (meaning the now ex-secretary of the City Council, Andriy Karpov – author's note) that they should be published; the management refused. I hope that Kateryna Leonidivna (Yamshchykova – author's note) will support me in this matter," replied Oleksandr Dedyukhin.

Moreover, the round table discussed the possibility of holding a transparent contest for the position of the City Council press office head. As Kateryna Yamshchykova explained, while martial law is in place, such a contest can be held if Dedyukhin resigns from his position voluntarily, and, if he wishes, he can then submit his candidacy and thus prove he and his expertise are fit for the position. Dedyukhin said that he was ready to resign from the post, but only after the results of the official audit are issued. "Perhaps, I will not want to submit my candidacy myself," Dedyukhin commented.

Official audits can last up to three months, but, according to Yamshchykova, this one is planned to take less time.

As IMI reported, on August 1, Poltava journalists addressed the authorities asking for an official audit of the head of the Poltava City Council press office, Oleksandr Dedyukhin, with regards to violation of the law regulating the work of journalists and ensuring the right to information. The addresses were signed by 11 journalists and chief editors of Poltava media.

On June 13, priest deputy Oleksandr Dedyukhin held his first press conference as head of the Poltava City Council press office. He promised to promote the publication of the City Council's draft decisions, including annexes; to resume online livestreams of meetings; to provide technical support for the work of camerapeople in the session hall; to establish communication channels with the heads of departments subordinate to the City Council; to be in touch with journalists 24/7 and to respond to their questions even after working hours (and told the journalists his phone number).

Nadia Kucher, Kateryna Dyachuk

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