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Vinnytsia lawyer demands journalists take down an article on his client

28.02.2024, 13:19

Vinnytsia lawyer Mykhailo Seredenko sent a request to the local media outlet "My – Vinnychany", demanding they take down an article about his client Alina Bakay. He also demands the outlet apologize and list the journalists' sources of information.

"My – Vinnychany" founder Vitaliy Duzhak reported this to the representative of the Institute of Mass Information in the Vinnytsia oblast.

On January 2, the media outlet released an article titled "What is the Vinnytsia fitness diva being tried for and what does ex-deputy Kudlayenko have to do with it". The story features Alina Bakay as the central figure. The journalists claim that she put tourniquet harnesses which were part of a humanitarian aid batch up for sale on OLX and offered a buyer to purchase tourniquets for a total amount of over UAH 600,000. The media outlet also states that the Vinnytsia City Court took Alina Bakay into custody and estimated the bail at UAH 208,000. The bail was posted on the same day and the girl was released from custody on personal recognizance.

In his request to journalists dated January 31, 2024, lawyer Seredenko notes that the outlet published Alina Bakay's personal data and a photo of her without her permission and consent. According to the lawyer, this is illegal, since such data can only be made public in the event that a court ruling against her enters into force, a resolution in the administrative offense case is passed, or upon her consent.

In addition, Seredenko put forward a number of demands to journalists in his request. In particular, he demanded a list of the sources for the information used in the article and the links to them, as well as to delete the information in question and to post a public apology to Alina Bakay on their website.

He demands all this "due to a violation of her non-property rights to use her name and personal photos, the integrity of her business reputation and morol (original spelling. – Ed.) damage to her..."

He also demands that "posting information about the criminal case against Alina Mykolaivna Bakay for a criminal offense under Part 3 of Art. 15, Part 3 of Art. 201-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine is prohibited."

Furthermore, the lawyer demanded a copy of the extract from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Public Organizations on the registration of the NGO "Justice League Ukraine" and a copy of the printed media outlet state registration certificate.

According to "My – Vynnychany" founder Vitaliy Duzhak, they have not yet replied to the lawyer's request. "We will figure it out along the way if they do something," he said.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko notes that a lawyer needs to file a request to provide legal assistance to a client and cannot be a basis for a demand to prohibit or perform any actions.

"If the document is signed as a 'lawyer's request', then it is unclear on what grounds does the lawyer have to demand a prohibition or performance of some actions. It is also unclear what is their basis to demand an apology, as the Code of Administrative Offenses only mentions it as a sanction for minors. Regarding the list of information sources, the journalistic ethics stipulate that they should be listed in the article. Perhaps he confuses the information with some value judgments, in which case the source is the journalist who wrote the article or the person they are quoting," the lawyer said.

Roman Holovenko reminded that a journalist has a right not to disclose their sources of information, granted to them by the Law "On State Support of the Media, Guarantees of Professional Activity and Social Protection of Journalists."

The lawyer also added that the lawyer did not explain why the information from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities and the state registration certificate are necessary for him to provide legal assistance to his client.

According to Holovenko, a lawyer can obtain information about a legal entity from the Unified State Register  independently, as it is available to everyone on the USR website and data can be obtained as an electronic document for a fee. As for the print media outlet certificate, however, the access to that register is currently restricted.

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