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The Moscow Times: Media watchdog denounces Ukraine defamation bill

Author: The Moscow Times All articles by this author

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Sep. 21, 2012 08:40
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People gather on Kyiv’s Independence Square on Sept. 16 to honor the memory of Georgiy Gongadze, murdered in 2000, and other journalists who lost their lives since Ukraine became a nation in 1991. Two days later, parliament launched a new assault on free press by approving a bill that would make defamation punishable by up to five years in prison.
Photo by Ukrafoto

 An international media watchdog urged Ukrainian lawmakers Wednesday to reject a bill that would make defamation a crime, saying it could "threaten the very existence of independent journalism." 

This week, Ukraine's parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych's allies, tentatively approved a bill that would make defamation punishable by up to five years in prison, restoring a Soviet-era practice that Ukraine abolished 11 years ago.

Currently, alleged libel can result in only a civil lawsuit, and journalists who lose would just face fines.

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