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You're reading: Offensive truths

The ruling Party of the Regions’
backdown last year over its controversial bill on recriminalizing libel was
widely viewed as a temporary retreat in the face of mass protest. Indeed,
Regions Party member of parliament Olena Bondarenko even said: “We won’t give
any guarantees. It will all depend on the situation in the country”. 

Judging from the latest article officially penned by Kuzmin, those
in power may now have decided that “the situation in the country” requires
measures to combat “defamation.”  Kuzmin
was supposedly prompted to write the article in the newspaper Law and
Business
by “the “dangerous trend towards using the phenomenon of
defamation in order to put unlawful pressure on the courts and criminal
investigators.”

Fear that Kuzmin’s text heralds a
new drive to criminalize libel has effectively been confirmed by President Viktor
Yanukovych’s press secretary Darya Chepak. She has promised that a new libel
law will not get passed without consultation with experts, Ukrainian civil
society and “the international expert community.” What exactly they’re supposed
to discuss is the only mystery since Ukraine’s media and civic organizations,
and a formidable number of European structures and international nongovernmental
organizations have already expressed total opposition to any attempt to
criminalize libel.

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