Cancellation of Broadcast Licenses in Ukraine Signals Continued Deterioration of Press Freedom | Freedom House

Cancellation of Broadcast Licenses in Ukraine Signals Continued Deterioration of Press Freedom

Washington

The recent court ruling to cancel broadcast licenses for TVi and 5 Kanal, two of the few remaining independent televisions stations in Ukraine, is reflective of a growing crackdown on press freedom by President Yanukovych, according to Freedom House.
 
A Ukrainian court ruled on August 30 to revoke recently awarded broadcast licenses for private television stations, TVi and 5 Kanal, citing irregularities in the application process.  TVi, who had recently renewed all of its licenses, has lost its ability to broadcast and the broadcast coverage of Kanal 5, who continues to have some pre-existing licenses, has been significantly reduced.  Executives from the television stations, as well as those involved in awarding the licenses, could face criminal charges, including possible jail time.
 
“The deterioration of press freedom in Ukraine under President Yanukovych is especially worrisome as it portrays a retreat away from the significant gains experienced since the Orange Revolution,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.  “Freedom House applauds German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to Yanukovych to bolster democratic processes and urges U.S. Under Secretary of State Burns to express the same in bilateral discussions with the government during his upcoming trip to the region.”  The Under Secretary is scheduled to visit Ukraine and Russia in early September.
 
Over the past several months, there has been a rise in attacks on journalists, accompanied by a climate of impunity.  Most notably, chief editor and reporter for Novyi Stil, Vasyl Klymentyev has been missing since August 11 and is feared dead. An unidentified witness in his case has also disappeared.  Press censorship has also increased, including the banning of reports critical of the government and the restricting of editorial control.    
 
Ukraine is ranked Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Ukraine, visit:
 
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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