U.S. says Ukraine media pressure reports troubling
June 24, 2010, 6:37 p.m. | Ukraine
— by Reuters
The United States expressed concern on Thursday over reports of pressure on journalists in Ukraine, urging action to support press freedom after the fall of the liberal "Orange Revolution" government.
Ukrainian media freedom groups have complained about growing censorship since President Viktor Yanukovych came to power in February, replacing liberal pro-Western politician Viktor Yushchenko.
"We believe it is essential to protect and even expand the media freedoms that emerged in 2005," U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft said in a speech at the Institute of World Policy in Kyiv, referring to Yushchenko's rise to power.
"There should be no going back to the old system of government pressure on journalists and media companies."
Tefft said some media companies practised self-censorship, "which is equally destructive to the principle of press freedom".
"There have been troubling reports of pressure on journalists, and a violent attack against the editor of a newspaper in the city of Kolomyia," Tefft said.
"There have been open letters of protest from journalists at several television companies, who complain of inappropriate pressure and censorship."
Tefft urged the police to investigate incidents thoroughly and said "the government should take reports of pressure on journalists seriously".
"We hope the government will take action when freedom of the press is threatened," he said, welcoming Yanukovych's public statements in suport of media freedom.
Yanukovych's office said this week he had met activists of the "Stop Censorship" movement to discuss press freedom issues. "Viktor Yanukovych thinks that establishment of clear and transparent relations between authorities and the media, thus effectively preventing censorship, is very important," it said in a statement.