Deputies vote to dissolve Parliamentary Commission on Censorship
On Friday the Parliamentary Commission on Censorship set up a year ago to investigate alleged cases of censorship and pressure on journalists presented its first report to the Verkhovna Rada. First and last, since the report which finds an increase in the number of cases where the enforcement agencies obstruct journalists in their work was not to the liking of the majority of Deputies. They refused to approve the report and terminated the Commission’s work.
The Commission worked from July last year. According to its Chairperson, Iryna Herashchenko (from Our Ukraine), in most of the cases they investigated the law enforcement agencies and courts turned down journalists’ applications for criminal investigations to be initiated.
“We received around 100 complaints of pressure on journalists, especially in the regions; of economic pressure on the municipal media, unmotivated assaults on journalists and obstruction by the enforcement bodies of journalists’ work”.
The Commission’s members also reported a great many complaints about the lack of transparency of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council. According to Mykola Katerynchuk, also from Our Ukraine, it isn’t normal when you can’t get an answer from the Broadcasting Council to the question who became the owner of the frequencies taken away from Radio Melodiya.
The parliamentary majority did not support the report, while the representatives of the majority factions in the Commission signed it with the reservation that an “emotional-political element dominated in assessment of the situation with freedom of speech”.
Iryna Herashchenko, however, complains that journalists themselves did not pay the report enough attention. “Even today when we discussed this topic, discussed the killing of Gongadze, the disappearance of Klymentyev, considered the non-transparent activities of the Broadcasting Council, there were no journalists and no television cameras. I don’t know why this is., whether journalists today are themselves not interested in the subject, or whether they’ve already received the word to not speak on the topic.”
The Press Service of Stop Censorship thought that perhaps the Commission’s report had not been properly publicized. Oksana Romanyuk, representative of Reporters without Borders also expressed surprise that parliamentary journalists had paid no attention to the report.
Volodymyr Landik , Deputy Chair of the Commission (Party of the Regions) believes that the Commission did all that it could. He denies, however, that problems with freedom of speech are linked with the actions of the present regime. The members of the Party of the Regions claim that on the contrary, the Gongadze case is being investigated more effectively.
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