Chronology of threats to press freedom since President Viktor Yanukovych took power February 25

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June 10, 2010, 10:32 p.m. | Ukraine — by Hasan Siddiqui
Editor’s note: The following is a chronology of events involving press freedom since President Viktor Yanukovych took power on Feb. 25. March 11 – Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko leader Yulia Tymoshenko said the process of infringement on freedom of speech has started in the country.

April 8 – Seventeen journalists working for the privately-owned television station TVi sent an open letter to Yanukovych urging him to put a stop to alleged interference in the media by the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU.

April 16 – Reporters Without Borders organization is dismayed by an alarming deterioration in press freedom in Ukraine since the two-round presidential election on Jan. 17 and Feb. 7, won by Yanukovych.

April 23
– Kyiv’s International Media Institute in March documented 17 cases of officials interfering with the work of journalists. The list chronicles alleged beatings of local newspaper editors, the detainment of photographers, the illegal search and seizure of journalists’ property by law-enforcement officials, slander charges and alleged tax violations.

April 24 – The Organization for Se­curity and Cooperation in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, has welcomed the pledge by Yanukovych to uphold media pluralism and honor OSCE media freedom commitments.

April 27 – Yanukovych has said that pressure being placed on journalists is unacceptable, and promised to become a guarantor of freedom of speech in Ukraine.

April 30 – The European Union is concerned over the recent development of the situation in the sphere of media freedom in Ukraine and welcomes Yanukovych’s pledge to uphold media pluralism and protect journalists.

May 4
– The president, his press service reported, greeted journalists and spoke of the need for reform and stable development and promised to “facilitate freedom of speech in Ukraine in every possible way.”

May 6 – Journalists from 1+1 TV station, the nation’s second most popular channel, accused top management and Yanukovych’s administration of censoring their work. Channel STB went public with similar accusations one day later.

May 13 – Independent media monitors say that Channel 5 and TVi are among the last strongholds of television journalistic integrity, amid growing accusations of censorship by government and media owners.

May 14
– Yanukovych said that claims of infringements on freedom of speech in Ukraine are untrue.

June 3 – Europe’s top human rights organization expresses concern about attacks on media freedom in Ukraine.

June 4 – Journalists covering Yanu­kovych’s news conference told him Ukrainian media have faced growing censorship during the past 100 days. He promised that the Security Service of Ukraine and the Interior Ministry would investigate the charges.

June 4 – Tymoshenko responds by saying Yanukovych has “developed an authoritarian government model and introduced media censorship, which brought the country back to the Soviet times.”

June 6 – About 100 Ukrainian jour­nalists and social activists march against censorship in Kyiv, amid growing controversy over media rights under Yanukovych.

June 8 – The District Administrative Court of Kyiv stripped Channel 5 and TVi channels of broadcasting frequencies.

Kyiv Post staff writer Hasan Siddiqui can be reached at
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