The Batkivshchyna Party regards the criminal proceedings launched by the Ukrainian tax police against CEO of the TVi channel Mykola Kniazhytsky as an attempt to introduce censorship at the channel and restrict the freedom of speech in the country.
The press service of the opposition party reported Thursday evening that the opposition would do its utmost to prevent the curtailment of the freedom of speech in Ukraine. “We are ready to offer a helping hand to Kniazhytsky and the journalists of TVi channel. At the same time we are addressing all international organization, OSCE, PACE, EU countries to increase international pressure on the incumbent regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to prevent the introduction of political censorship in the country,” the party statement says.
The opposition also compared the criminal cases against the TV channel CEO and the cases of opposition leaders Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko.
“The motive of the authorities is one and the same – using law enforcement bodies and later politically motivate court judgments to obstruct political opposition activities and in this case objective and impartial operation of a well-known TV channel and its head, to assume state control over them,” the statement says.
A criminal case regarding the activity of TVi Channel has been opened following checks on the channel’s activities in April 2012, which was before Head of the State Tax Service Oleksandr Klymenko declared a moratorium on checks on the media, the spokesperson for the State Tax Service’s office in Kyiv, Mykola Kovtunenko, has said.
“After the holding of unscheduled documentary checks on the TeleRadioSvit Television and Radio Company by the State Tax Service in the Solomiansky district, an act has been compiled, which established the violation of tax laws that led the underestimation of VAT of an amount exceeding UAH 3 million. This act served as a basis for opening a criminal case against the director of the company, Mykola Kniazhytsky, under Part 3, Article 212 of the Criminal Code (large-scale tax evasion),” he said at a news briefing on Thursday.
Kovtunenko said that on June 9, the State Tax Service received a ruling of the Shevchenkivsky district court with a permit to seize documents from the television and radio company’s officials. On June 11, the order of the State Tax Service to seize these documents was received in Solomiansky district.
“There were no claims regarding the legality of the seizure of documents from TeleRadioSvit officials. All of the actions by tax police were conducted in accordance with the law,” he said.
At the same time, Kovtunenko said that a moratorium on media checks was declared on June 25.
“We would like to inform you that the schedule of checks in the third quarter includes no media, so the moratorium was not violated, it is in effect. Investigative actions as part of a criminal case against TVi were conducted in April 2012, before the declaration of the moratorium,” he added.
As reported, the State Tax Service of Ukraine extended a moratorium on checks on the media in the third quarter of 2012 in connection with the holding of the parliamentary election campaign in Ukraine.