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Ukrainian journalists demand an end to media censorship

07.11.2012, 11:30
We, the journalists of the movement “Stop Censorship!” claim the presence of systematic political censorship in Ukraine, the latest and one of the brightest examples of which is the situation regarding the Kyiv-based news agency UNIAN. The Management of the agency prohibited to mention in a negative context the name of Ukrainain President Victor Yanukovych on the website of UNIAN and obliged the site’s editors to get permission in advance before publishing all news associated with names of higher officials. 
The article under the headline “On Bankova St. there was a picket: Yanukovych was Given a Shoe with a New Year Tree,” which was published on the UNIAN website Oct. 26, 2012, was immediately deleted and Liubov Zhalovaha and Valentyna Romanenko, the editors who published the story, were fined Hr 200 ($25) each by management for mentioning the President's name in a negative context.

We demand the management of the news agency UNIAN to immediately stop the shameful practice of censorship and be aware of the responsibility they have to the law and their readers.

As the censorship at UNIAN obviously has a systematic character to it, we demand the agency’s management explain publicly the reasons behind the decision to prohibit the story critical of Yanukovych and other state officials. And we ask, was this a directive of the Presidential administration, the wish of the agency’s owner, or the initiative of the holding hanagement?

We also call the management of UNIAN, namely, Vadym Osadchyy, the director general, to remember about professional dignity, as the inevitable result of such UNIAN policy will be a decline in the credibility of one of the leading Ukrainian media outlets, which we believe still has the potential to produce unique and valuable news.
The most obvious reason for the decision to censor the UNIAN story is pressure from politicians, namely, the Presidential administration. That is why we demand it to acknowledge publicly the existence of political censorship in Ukraine, i.e. to answer the question WHO directed Vadym Osadchyy to instruct his journalists to only report on Yanukovych's activities in a positive way. We also call the administration of the President to explain publicly the reason for the absence of critics regarding state officials' activities in the majority of national media.

We support the protest of our colleagues from UNIAN, who claim there exists censorship, and consider their actions to be worth respect. The movement “Stop Censorship!” will take all necessary actions to protect our colleagues if they are harassed, harmed, impeded or intimidated in any way because of their attempts to report the news objectively.

The movement “Stop Censorship!” has also prepared appeals to international organizations regarding the censorship that occurs when reporting the activities of state officials in Ukraine.

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