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European journalists call on Ukrainian authorities, media owners to respect press freedom

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May 11, 2010, 4:40 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine
Brussels, May 11 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European branch of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has expressed its concerns about recent developments in Ukrainian media towards censorship and called on the authorities and media owners to respect standards of press freedom. The European Federation of Journalists said this in a statement published on its Web site on May 10.

The statement says that "journalists from the major Ukrainian private TV channel 1+1 complained about pressures and censorship after they were denied permission to cover important news that the authorities considered critical on May 6."

"Some TV programs which carried criticism of the government were dropped. Journalists at another Channel, STB, also issued a statement which denounced cases of censorship," reads the document.

EFJ President Arne Konig said in this connection that "we have several clear cases of pressures on and censorship of journalists at major Ukrainian television channels, showing that the authorities in Ukraine are trying to reduce the freedom of speech with the complicity of the owners."

"We are concerned by these developments, which threaten to reverse the major steps we saw in past years towards democracy, partly thanks to press freedom, whereas this recent trend constitutes a backlash for journalists' rights and for human rights in general," reads the statement.

The EFJ also learned that during press conferences journalists are forced by politicians - both from the government and from the opposition - to ask questions which have been submitted in advance."

"Journalists who are reluctant to do so risk undermining their relations with the authorities. The IFJ affiliate in Ukraine, the Independent Media Trade Union, also points out that the number of investigative journalists active in media is dramatically decreasing," says the document.

In this regard, Konig called on the authorities, as well as all media owners that support or initiate censorship, to respect standards of press freedom, in particular their commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights.
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