Saturday, June 30, 2012
Independent Ukrainian news website under serious threat..[Updated]
In the past your blogger has referred to articles from the 'Lyeviy Bereg' site, now 'lb.ua', on many occasions.
The independent lb.ua site posts articles by many authors, including some who strongly pro-ruling authorities as well those who are highly critical.The site is a project of the Gorshenin Institute - who also publish this excellent weekly newsletter in English
Several of the site's staff, including well-known journalist Sonya Koshkina could now be facing criminal charges for doing their job - in particlar for writing about the severe beating last year of a young woman by Roman Landyk, son of a prominent PoR parliamentary deputy. The case was prominently covered across the entire Ukrainian media because is cast a spotlight on the frequently boorish, lawless behaviour of Ukraine's ruling elite and their children.
An Lb.ua photographer managed to take readable photographs of Landyk Sr. sending SMS messages whilst attending a pleniary parliamentary session. The photographs were taken quite openly from the journalist's gallery overlooking the main chamber of parliament where photographers are permitted to sit. There was nothing illicit or underhand in the way the photographs were taken. Deputies are well aware that everything they do in the main chamber is under scrutiny.
"From the contents of the SMS it is clear that in order to optimize his son’s image, Landik Senior is engaging political technologists as well as journalists from the Luhansk TV company to write positive comments in the news and texts about the Landik junior trial."
Koshkina and the others could now be facing up to seven years in prison for alleged 'violation of private corresondence'. Full story in English here
After being questioned by law-enforcement officials, Koshkina herself 'phoned Landyk sr. and wrote about their conversation, or rather his abusive, explative-ridden tirade, in this lb.ua piece. The bright, charismatic and charming journalist has certainly 'trodden on more than a few toes' in her many articles, but has nevertheless always appeared to have had cordial relations with the 'great and good' of the land.
Koshkina considers she and other at her site are now under grave threat, and that this assault is not merely a token 'shot across their bows' - it may well be the start of a campaign to 'clip the wings' of independent journalists before next autumn's parliamentary elections. Or maybe someone has just decided to seek revenge and 'get even'...
Another example of creeping authoritarianism?
And should not Landyk sr. be investigated for possible abuse of power and perverting the course of justice? Not in the Alice in Wonderland world of Ukrainian politics.
Sonya Koshkina appeared via Skype on last night's 'ShusterLive' programme. She is out of the country and will not return until she and her lb.ua colleagues receive cast iron guarantees that they any possible criminal charges against them in the Landyk affair will be dropped.
She accuses highly-placed officials in the presidential administration of organising a sustained 'nightmarish' attack against lb.ua in the last months , but without the consent of either the president Yanukovych or prosecutor-general Pshonka. [Your blogger considers the last assertion may be a ploy to enable this pair of oafs to emerge from the scandal unscathed without loss of face or embarrassment.]
The president's representative in parliament Yuriy Myroshnichenko said on the programme that Koshkina's appearance itself showed freedom of expression in the country was not under attack. However, he added prosecutors had the right to conduct any investigations in this case.
Everyone knows that internet websites now are the biggest and best source of unbiassed information on the political scene in Ukraine...LEvko suggests such attacks will become more commonplace in future..and this is the reason lb.ua are fighting back so vigorously...
p.s. Several years ago a British minister was photographed walking into Downing Street with her briefing papers visible. Their embarrasing contents, discussing the double impact of falling house prices and rapidly rising food and fuel prices, a lethal political cocktail which were damaging to the then prime minister, were widely reported. No-one dreamt of attacking journalists for doing their job.
The minister in question held no grudge against them despite the sensitivity of the information placed into the public domain.
See also here, here, and here for similar cases.