The sad spectacle of the libel law that lawmakers tried to enact is the latest attempt by a budding authoritarian regime to roll back democracy. To borrow one of the president’s favorite phrases, “it is no accident” that 244 members, or 54 percent, of parliament on Sept. 18 voted for a law that could imprison journalists and other citizens for insulting the dignity and honor of an individual.

With the courts and prosecutors used as political tools by the administration to attack rivals and critics, there is no doubt that such a libel law would be used to threaten any news organization that dared to investigate corruption or criticize officials or powerful businesspeople. It would keep media and regular citizens in a constant state of fear over saying or writing the wrong thing.

But Ukrainian journalists and others showed they will not let free speech die without a fight. News organizations coordinated their response with meetings, black website banners and white front pages, including today’s edition of the Kyiv Post. Journalists rang the alarm bells with the “white & black” protest. The website banner urged citizens to “Stand up for your right to know. Say no to the libel law.” Fortunately, Yanukovych was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this week. He listened and responded correctly.

Exclusive article

Sign up or subscribe to view more articles.
See All Plans
$5.95
Monthly plan
Get unlimited article access, anytime, anywhere.

Subscribe
$60
Yearly plan
Access all the exclusive content on KyivPost.com and the complete online archive.
Subscribe
Advertisement

Add comment

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.
Attention

Add a picture
Choose file
Add a quote
Attention

Are you sure you want to delete your comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to delete all user's comments?

Attention

Are you sure you want to unapprove user's comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to move to spam user's comment?

Attention

Are you sure you want to move to trash user's comment?

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: