Ukrainian reporters complain of state control
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe set forth an opinion to approve an amendment, according to which the PACE freedom of press resolution will say that the presidential administration of Ukraine gives instructions to mass media outlets. In other words, the administration of Ukraine’s president is drawn to control the Ukrainian media and their reports of major political events.
The amendment was submitted for voting at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by Ukrainian journalists and experts. One hundred and twenty-seven deputies voted for the amendment of the total number of 148 deputies.
As it was pointed out at the session that there were a lot of occasions, on which journalists were attacked or killed in Russia. The same was said about Armenia, Georgia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Ukraine and Belarus. The PACE freedom of press resolution mentions that there was no progress achieved to investigate the crimes that were committed before, for example Georgy Gongadze’s assassination in Ukraine, or Dmitry Zavadskoy’s disappearance in Belarus. In addition to that, journalists are arrested for their activities, which is totally inadmissible for democracy. Other forms of legal persecution, particularly dignity lawsuits or disproportionately large fines that put mass media outlets beyond the edge of survival, keep developing in certain countries. Such occasions have been recently registered in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia.
The resolution mentions that mass media outlets are intimidated in the form of police or fiscal control and other forms of economic pressure. The national television of the majority of CIS countries is controlled by the state. This particularly touches upon Moldavia and Azerbaijan. Even most democratic countries still have problems with independent public broadcast. The adequate balance between the authorities and the opposition is still a big issue. “The Parliamentary Assembly stresses out the need for the Council of Europe to keep on watching the situation with freedom of speech on the continent. The Parliamentary Assembly is supposed to use its status and possibilities for the active protection of own standards and principles, including a journalist’s duty to execute professional standards,” runs the document.
The PACE addressed to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe with a request to show influence on Council of Europe members and to make them improve the situation with freedom of speech and to investigate all cases connected with reporters’ assassinations. The Assembly also asked to cancel the law, which stipulates criminal persecution for an activity connected with the implementation of freedom of speech rights. One hundred and three deputies of the Council of Europe (of the total number of 119 registered deputies) voted for the resolution.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov