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The Moscow Times: Media watchdog denounces Ukraine defamation bill

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Sept. 21, 2012, 8:40 a.m. | Ukraine abroad — by The Moscow Times

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.
© 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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