Activists To Stage Protest At SBU Office

KIEV, Ukraine -- A group of civil rights activists plans to stage a protest in front of the SBU security service offices on Wednesday in response to increasing pressure against journalists in Ukraine.

SBU headquarters in Kiev.

The activists plan to line up in front of the SBU before submitting formal requests to disclose whether the SBU has been recently secretly gathering any information on them.

The action comes amid reports indicating that the SBU has been allegedly secretly targeting Viktoria Syumar, a civil rights activist and a journalist, by questioning people knowing her.

“A concierge in the building told me that people had come and introduced themselves as SBU agents, showed their IDs. They asked who was living in my apartment, who was coming and when, who was leaving and when, etc.,” Syumar wrote in her blog.

Syumar has been actively campaigning for the freedom of speech by leading the “Stop Censorship!” movement among journalists that had gained momentum after the election of Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency.

The SBU on Monday declined to comment on the report.

The developments come amid reports suggesting SBU has been conducting surveillance of Democratic Alliance, a Cherkasy-based non-government organization, by investigating who was financing the organization.

Oleh Shynkarenko, a Ukrainian blogger, was summoned up to the SBU security service in July, and warned officially against posting any comments critical of President Yanukovych.

This is the first time the security service in Ukraine has taken action against a blogger for posting critical remarks about the government on the Internet.

It shows the authorities, earlier criticized by international media organizations for attempts at restricting the freedom of speech on television, have now actually expanded the pressure to new areas, such as blogging.

The SBU explained the pressure on Shynkarenko by his posting of material that had allegedly contained threats against Yanukovych.

Jean-Fran├žois Julliard, the secretary general of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, was in Kiev in July to investigate complaints the authorities have been putting pressure on media.

Julliard singled out Valeriy Khoroshovskiy, the SBU chief who combines his job with managing Inter media group, which includes Ukraine’s most popular television channel.

“This is a real conflict of interests,” Julliard said. “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal