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Ukraine: Prosecution Threatens Journalists with Criminal Case for the Photo in the Parliament

24.07.2012, 04:12

In Kyiv political scandal around independent Internet newspaper Livyi Bereh has been going since the end of June. Livyi Bereh ( posted photos of sms-messages of Volodymyr Landik, a Deputy, about his son Roman, who at the time was under investigation for assaulting a girl.

Volodymyr Landik wrote a complaint to the Prosecutor with the demand to initiate criminal case against the newspaper editors according to Art. 163 CC of Ukraine (about violation of private correspondence as to state or public figures) that provides a penalty of three to seven years of imprisonment.  

Suddenly after 7 months of the publication, Landyk, the Deputy, resented the actions of journalists, who had been following the development of the resonant criminal case of Landyk the Younger, who on July, 6, 2011 assaulted a girl in the restaurant in Lugansk.

Livyi Bereh wrote: It is obvious from the correspondence that for optimization of son Roman image, Landyk the Elder uses the help of political technologies and even “involves” the journalists of Lugansk TV Company to write positive comments in news and text, devoted to Lundyk the Younger’s Case.

The conflict between the Deputy and the newspaper became public, when the Prosecution didnt close the case though Sonia Koshkina, an editor-in-chief, apologized and afterwards Landik took back his complaint.

Media lawyers think that criminal case against as to commitment of a crime according to p. 2 Art. 163 and p.2 Art. 182 CC of Ukraine is illegal as all mentioned above articles are applied to penalize illegal deliberate actions, but in this situation, journalists of performed their professional duty, operatively informing public about the events that are of social interest, i.e. legally used the rights guaranteed by the Law.  

In Ukraine during the election campaign and half a year before its start, politicians and candidates for deputies begin their PR campaigns, which include posting of paid custom materials. Such materials are written with neglecting of journalist standards and don’t carry any socially important information, they are placed without appropriate labeling and are called Jeansa (slang). One more way of bribing Media is buying their silence.

In Lundyk the Younger’s Case all Ukrainian Media condemned the behavior of Deputy’s son and followed attentively the Court trial that finished in January this year. That is why the new conflict on the eve of the election campaign and active actions of the Prosecution against Media make Ukrainian journalists speak aloud about pressure of the authorities on Media and ask colleagues and Human Rights organizations for support in order to prevent similar cases during the election process.

Ukrainian journalists interpret this criminal case initiation as pressure on freedom of speech. That is why on July, 19, they protested near Prosecution the General Office and demanded to stop tax audit of Media during the election campaign that starts on July, 31, and close the criminal case against

Christian Mir, a Head of Reporters Without Boarders in Berlin-based branch, in his interview for DW commented on the situation in Ukraine as following: International publicity has to, firstly, point out at these constant attacks to freedom of press. But to start with, Ukraine has to be reminded about several standards that it itself undertook to follow. Ukraine is a Member of Council of Europe and must follow Article 10 of the Convention of Human Rights about freedom of thought and press. These are the things about which other European countries and international publicity should remind Ukraine.  Secondly, Europe should think about the future development of relations between Ukraine and EU in this situation. I think that EU has to be very restrained. This convergence is desirable, but it depends on the improvements in the field of Media freedom. 

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