Examples are abundant: the independent weekly Dzerzhinets was shut down and its property seized for libeling a local police chief accused of corruption; the car of the editor of Ostriv’s online version was burned; a photographer of Segodnya newspaper’s Odesa bureau was beaten while covering a Tymoshenko opposition bloc meeting, and its office was subsequently evacuated following several weeks of bomb threats.
This Monday, Olena Chuhunnikova, director of Segodnya’s Odesa bureau, found the side window of her car smashed in, apparently for running a story about a car accident caused by the governor’s son.
No wonder Ukraine sunk in Reporters Without Borders' 2008 press freedom ranking in February.
Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression” and also the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. With freedom comes responsibility for what is said or written.
Ukrainian journalists have shown they’re up to the task of reporting corruption and abuses of power.
Certain politicians, law enforcement officials, and businessmen with political clout show their disregard for the law and basic freedoms, thereby contributing to a misbalanced, venal society.
Ukraine is a signatory of the aforementioned human rights declaration and its Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, as do its laws, which punish crimes against media representatives with a maximum seven-year sentence.
While the legal framework is in place, while the will of authorities is misplaced.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs must investigate these crimes as a top priority in ensuring civil society in Ukraine. Prosecutors must punish the guilty to the fullest extent.
And the media must continue to shed light on such incidents as a herald of the state of freedom of speech in Ukraine.
And so we await the first arrest.
Source: Kyiv Post