Friday, August 13, 2010

Mix of political repression and asset grabbing continues

The management and journalists at one of the largest private broadcasters in Crimea, "Chornomorska", are appealing to Ukrainian and foreign journalists, and to human rights groups for assistance.

Tax Police recently seized all of the TV company's property, and their Audit Administration (KRU) has instigated a complete financial inspection. The TV company fear that as local elections draw near, "Chornomorska" will be forced to cease broadcasting, as happened during the days of Kuchma's Presidency.

BYuT parliamentary deputy, Andriy Senchenko is considered to be the owner of "Chornomorska", and is also leader of the Crimean branch of the "Batkivshchyna" opposition party. He regards the action a repression to prevent the station operating during the approaching national local election campaign.

The managing director of "Chornomorska", Tatiana Krasykova, said that their collective has appealed to international human rights organizations and journalistic community, "for support during this difficult period." According to Krasikova, what is happening at her TV and radio company, could happen tomorrow within any other branch of the mass media in Ukraine. While their property is seized they are losing revenue from advertisers, but are nevertheless, continuing to broadcast.

On Wednesday ByuT and Batkivschyna offices in Simferopol were raided and searched by the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU].

SBU Chief Valeriy Koroshkovsky combines his day job with ownership of one the country’s largest media groups. He had been accused of abusing his position to 'nobble' other media rivals before. Handily, he remains a member of the Higher Council of Justice of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, former Minister of Defence Anatoliy Hrytsenko, in a recent blog, publishes a letter from the head of the SBU in Sevastopol to the local energy utility company, urging them to turn off the power to a company owned by the same Senchenko, "in the interests of state security"- a clear contravention of Ukrainian law.

Hrytsenko also reveals, that while he is no friend of Senchenko, having cross swords with him in the past in the courts over former state property issues, there are "far from groundless" rumours that, "someone from the president's family circle" would like to get their hands on "this part of the Balaklava bay".

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