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Natalya Sokolenko: Newly elected President of Ukraine should take the safety of the journalists and investigation on the attacks against them under his personal control


KyivJune 06, 2014 – During last six months the journalists paid extremely high price for the citizens’ right to know. According to «Stop Censorship!» movement, two journalists were killed, almost 300 injured, approximately 40 were held hostage and dozens became refugees due to pressure, attacks and threats. Furthermore, almost 200 attacks were made namely by former, or, presumably, even actual officers of state law enforcement agencies. «We call upon newly elected President of Ukraine to take the issue of journalists’ safety under his personal control, as well as investigation and punishment of assaulters», – claimed the movement activist Natalya Sokolenko during a media briefing in Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

The journalists prepared an application from «Stop Censorship!» movement to the President of Ukraine and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with specific proposals and demands, implementation of which will provide for freedom of the press in Ukraine and information industry development. These include, namely, accountability of the President of Ukraine, public broadcasting service, mass-media denationalization, media ownership transparency, liquidation of the National Committee on public morality defense, independent and competent National Council on television and radio broadcasting.

«Ukrainian society will not allow the President, his family and his team to be separated, so we believe that Ukrainian President should meet with mass-media at least once every three months, in “till the last question” format, like Angela Merkel does in Germany», – said a representative of «Stop Censorship!» movement Oksana Romanyuk.

The activists welcomed passing of a law regulating public broadcasting. At the same time they emphasized the importance of political will to make it possible for the country to develop sources of information free from political pressure. «After all, we need to reform state and communal media financed by state and local budgets which are a Soviet-era holdover, as well as provide for efficient legislative mechanisms for media ownership transparency, overcoming corruption and advertising market monopolization», – added Ms. Sokolenko.

«Today we are facing challenges we have not experienced during these 20 years. Journalists bear huge responsibility, and failure to comply with the standards may carry serious consequences both in the short and long run.  It is important to act within legal framework even when forming relationship with journalists of the countries we are in the state of conflict with», – commented on Oleh Lyashko’s incident with a Russian journalist Aksiniya Kurina.

The journalists also call upon the President to renew the composition of the National Council on television and radio broadcasting. Competent and independent members of the public should become members of the National Council in order to ensure its independence and expertise. «Stop Censorship!» put forward professional lawyers Taras Shevchenko and Tetyana Kotyuzhynska as candidates to join the Council on behalf of media environment. «We are ready to meet Mr. Poroshenko and call upon him to support our initiative in order to guarantee public right to information as well as secure journalists’ right to unrestricted activity», – said Natalya Sokolenko.

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