Well dear readers, Ukraine and the current government have received a fair amount of unwelcome media coverage both internally (how can that be when the media is supposedly suppressed) in internationally over freedom of the press/speech/expression…..and has indeed had OSCE observers here to monitor press freedoms.
A major criticism by the opposition and Ukrainian media is that the head of the SBU (Secret Police) owns a large number of media television stations…….which to be fair, he did when he was Deputy Head of the SBU under the last government……it is only now an issue because he is the head of the SBU and friendly with the new government apparently. If it is a conflict of interests now, then it was a conflict of interests before methinks!
There is of course a conflict of interests simply owing to the large number of television channels he owns, as this has led to accusations of impartiality and censoring of their news reporting.
He has publicly said they are for sale, but as yet nobody has bought them.
Even so, when you consider that the head of the French public service broadcaster is……President Sarkozy of France…….it is hard to see any difference when it comes to the ability to influence the news……..as the same conflict of interest exists!
Anyway, to put the Ukrainian situation into a little perspective, here is the OSCE report on press freedoms across the continent of Europe…….in which it states most nations suppress the media……..but Ukraine is not bad enough to be mentioned specifically…….unlike many other nations……..such as France, Greece, Italy, Serbia and Russia.
It seems Ukraine is no worse or better than any other nation.
In case you are wondering, this is what OSCE has said about Ukraine:
On 1 April, I wrote to Konstyantyn Hryshchenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to express concern about the attack on Vasyl Demyaniv, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Kolomoyskiy Visnyk.
In a 22 July response, the authorities informed me that the police arrested a suspect who confessed to having attacked Demyaniv. I was also informed that the investigation established that the attack was not connected with Demyaniv?s professional activities.
On 22 April, I wrote to President Viktor Yanukovych and on 23 April made a public statement welcoming the President?s pledge to uphold media pluralism and honour OSCE media-freedom commitments.
I commended the new administration for its pledge to combat violence against the media as timely and expressed hope that it would translate into vigorous and resolute action to conclude the investigations into old and new cases of violence against members of the media, including the murder of Ukrainska Pravda journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.
I also highlighted negative developments that could threaten media pluralism. They included the President?s decision on 2 April to dissolve the national free speech commission, which was part of the presidential administration, and to change the legal status of the new head of the state television.
I offered Ukraine support for reform of the media law, including the adoption of laws on public service broadcasting, access to information, privatization of media and ownership transparency.
On 3 June, I received a letter from Minister Hryshchenko who, on behalf of President Yanukovych, invited me to visit Ukraine.
In my 16 June letter to the Minister, I thanked him for the invitation and the opportunity offered to meet with the authorities and journalists to obtain first-hand information about the media-freedom situation. I also expressed concern about the developments regarding 5 Kanal and TVi television channels. I was informed that on 8 June a Kyiv court annulled the 27 January decision of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting allocating broadcasting frequencies to the two channels. I viewed the 8 June decision as potentially negative for pluralism in Ukrainian broadcasting and requested additional information about these developments.
During the Informal Ministerial Meeting in Almaty, I discussed with Minister Hryshchenko my upcoming visit to Ukraine. I plan to travel to Kyiv in October in order to receive first-hand information on the developments mentioned above and on the overall media freedom situation in the country.
The full OSCE document covering Ukraine and many other nations is here: