Journalists strike over sacked Kyiv editor

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April 19, 2011, 9:52 p.m. | Ukraine — by Reuters


Journalists on Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper have gone onstrike to back its editor who was fired for publishing an interview with a government minister despite the owner's request to drop it. Brian Bonner, editor-in-chief o fthe Kyiv Post, was dismissed last Friday after the publication of an interview with Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk that touched on the sensitive issue of grain export quotas.

Journalists at the weekly newspaper said its British owner had ceded topressure from the government in what they saw as a further case of infringement of media rights by President Viktor Yanukovych's leadership.

The Kyiv Post, which was founded in1995 and has a print run of 20,000 to25,000, covers political andsocial news as well as business news for Ukraine's investment community. It has online services in Russian and Ukrainian that were launched a year ago.

Its owner, British businessman Mohammed Zahoor, has run thenewspaper through Istil Investment since 2009.

In a statement announcing thestrike, its editorial staff said they wanted Bonner reinstated.

"The strike continues. Staff want Zahoor to explain his position on censorship, editorial independence and explain whether he will do it again or not, and give guarantees," deputy editor-in-chief Roman Olearchyk said Monday.

In a statement, Istil Investment denied that there had been calls from the government to kill the interview. It said there had been a difference of opinion between the owner and Bonner over editorial content, and the running ofthe Ukrainian- and Russian-language editions of the newspaper's web site.

In an interview with the Kommersant newspaper, Zahoor said he had wanted the interview stopped because it was "unprepared and flabby" and needed more work to be fit for publication.

Bonner challenged that version. "Even before the reporters were back from the interview, we were getting calls to say theminister was very concerned," he said.

As the newspaper went topress, Zahoor asked to see a copy of the story and subsequently asked for it to be excised. "I refused, and it looks like I really am fired," Bonner said.

Big grain trading houses and the Kiev government have been at odds over Ukrainian policy on grain export quotas, a billion-dollar business that, market insiders say, is prone to graft.

In the interview, Prysyazhnyuk defended government policy of imposing quotas to protect the domestic food market in times of indifferent harvests and high world demand.

International monitors criticize the Ukrainian government for protectionism and granting export quotas to traders in a non transparent way that harms fair competition.

Yanukovych's administration is also under fire from the United States andother parts of the West for putting pressure on mass media at home to paint a rosier picture of government policies.
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Anonymous April 19, 2011, 11:13 p.m.    

I saw read the interview and there was nothing I would consider to be unprofessional in the report by Mr.Bonner. In fact, what I did notice was the Agriculture Minister being very evasive on his answers. The question posed to the Minister were great questions and it's what news suppose to be. When a news organization begins to back away from such issues it no longer has any creditability with the public. A news organization has to bring out the hidden issues which a government tries to hide from it's people. The rest of world knows exactly what is going on with the government of Yanukovych and Western governments are bringing these issues to the leader of Ukraine. Zahoor needs to back down on the firing of Mr. Bonner. When the entire staff goes on strike it tells me that there is a major problem with management. I can not agree with Mr. Zahoor that there was not any case of interference from the government.

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Anonymous April 19, 2011, 11:24 p.m.    

#13 The people that read the Kyiv Post are English speaking persons that want to learn about the continuing historically systemic RAPE of UKRAINE and the UKRAINIAN people, language, culture, traditions, etc; and, to learn about the geopolitical outcome of the blessed destruction of the USSR.

Read more:

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Anonymous April 20, 2011, 6:38 p.m.    


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Anonymous April 20, 2011, 9:10 a.m.    

Maybe Mr. Zahoor should be thanked, because due to his interference with fair reporting, the story of the corrupt grain dealings is now reaching the entire world.

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