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.
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.