Ukrainka Pravda's printed clone. The inscription, super-imposed by Pravda, says: "Beware of fake."
Ukraine's top Internet media resource, Ukrainska Pravda (Ukranian Truth) is preparing an application to the police asking to investigate the appearance of a false printed copy of a namesake newspaper, and a clone site called Ukrainska Kryvda (Ukrainian Lies), according to the statement posted on its website, pravda.com.ua.
Both the fake site and the newspaper have designs very similar to that of the original site, which was founded in 2000 by Georgiy Gongadze, who was brutally murdered months later.
“We consider these actions, both the production of the false printed version of Ukrainska Prada, and the online “twin” as aimed at discrediting our publication,” the editors said in their statement. “The calculation is that an inattentive or poorly informed reader will take at face value any nonsense that come out on these resources, under our brand, or in our design.”
The false newspaper claims to have a circulation of 1 million, which Ukrainska Pravda also challenges. The masthead of the newspaper lists Prytula O.E. as chief editor of the publication, and Leshchenko S.T. as production editor. The surnames used are the same as Pravda's chief editor Olena Prytula and its deputy chief editor Serhiy Leshchenko, but their patronymic initials are different.
Ukrainska Pravda is one of the few popular independent news sources in Ukraine. In the past week, it was visited by more than 246,000 people daily, who hit it more than 1.76 million times, according to LiveInternet counter.
The site is owned by Prytula, who co-founded it with Gongadze in the early 2000. He disappeared in September of the same year, and in November his decapitated body was found in a forest some 70 kilometers outside of Kyiv. His skull was only found in 2009 in a different location.
Despite the fact that four people have been convicted of his murder, it's widely believed that the true mastermind behind this crime is Leonid Kuchma, who was president of Ukraine at the time of his murder. Gongadze was his outspoken critic.
His legacy has lived on in Ukrainska Pravda, which is known for its investigations into corruption and luxurious lives of Ukraine's ruling elite. In their statement, the publication's editors pointed out that they suspect pro-presidential forces to be behind the attack.
“As elections of the president approach, the pro-presidential powers have accumulated in their hands practically all of the media market. Previosly, they had not focused on internet media, but in the last months we're seeing a rise in their presence of pro-government media on the net,” the Pravda statement said.
“We welcome competition, but at the same time, do not accept the methods based on dissemination of twisted information, collected through tapped phone conversations, stolen personal data, creation of clone sites and production of fakes.”