Saturday, 5 June 2010
Ukraine Journalists Protest
KIEV, Ukraine -- Dozens of Ukrainian journalists on Friday donned T-shirts reading 'stop censorship' at a news conference by President Viktor Yanukovych, amid growing concern over media rights under his rule.
Mr Yanukovych assured the media he shared their ideas, vowing that 'no-one is putting pressure on you or will put pressure on you.' He even accepted one of the T-shirts through a bodyguard.
He also read a letter signed by several Ukrainian journalists and asked the security services and interior ministry to investigate the complaints. 'I want to cooperate with you and find ways together to uproot attacks on press freedom. If there are concrete examples, then I am ready to support this movement with you.'
Ukrainian television journalists from the private 1+1 and STB channels last month issued a petition complaining of an increase in censorship under the rule of the pro-Kremlin Mr Yanukovych, saying that certain issues had become taboo.
Press freedom in Ukraine is seen as one of the few lasting gains of the 2004 Orange Revolution which swept pro-Western leaders to power, who were in turn ousted by Mr Yanukovych in this year's elections.
In a bid to show more openness, Mr Yanukovych then invited journalists attending the news conference to visit his personal residence outside Kiev. The property had been the subject of controversy in the election after his opponents accused him of illegally obtaining land to build it.
But the overture backfired when the presidency later admitted the tour had been shelved indefinitely due to transport problems and an important upcoming meeting for the head of state.
When Mr Yanukovych was hit on the head last month by a gigantic wreath at a memorial ceremony, officials ordered journalists not to broadcast the footage. But the presidency later admitted they had overstepped the mark.