KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine journalists warned Sunday of strike action over work conditions, complaining of a deterioration in press freedom in the past six months under President Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukrainian authorities "pretend officially to support press freedom but in truth they ignore the problems, professional rights and claims of journalists," the press freedom group "Stop the Censorship" said in a statement.
The journalists published their warning amid fears that the pro-opposition and pro-western television channels TVi, 5 Kanal and Tchornomorska were to be closed down. On Saturday the three channels had organised a symbolic one-hour strike.
"The number of issues where journalists are prevented from working, the number of censorship cases and the pressure on journalists... is increasing constantly," the movement said.
On Monday the tribunal in Kiev will begin hearings to rule on whether the channels TVi and Kanal 5 had legally obtained their licenses.
On August 10, the Vienna-based International Press Institute appealed in an open letter to the Ukrainian president to respect press freedom, concerned by the rise in attacks on journalists being reported and "a climate of impunity."
The European Union, the US embassy in Kiev and the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe have all also expressed concern about the current media environment.