Ukraine | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Status change explanation: Ukraine's rating declined from Partly Free to Not Free because of state censorship of television broadcasts, continued harassment and disruption of independent media, and the failure of the authorities to adequately investigate attacks against journalists.

Freedom of the press declined under the continued weight of political pressure and government censorship. Article 34 of the constitution, and a 1991 law on print media, guarantee freedom of expression and the press, but journalists do not enjoy these rights in practice. Official influence and de facto censorship are widespread. The administration issues regular instructions (temniks) to mass media outlets directing the nature, theme, and substance of news reporting. The European Institute for the Media reported that coverage at the state broadcaster UT-1 clearly favored the ruling party during the March 2002 parliamentary campaign. Opposition media outlets face various forms of harassment, including obstructive tax audits, safety inspections, and selective enforcement of media regulations. Libel ceased to be a criminal offense in 2001; however, politically motivated civil suits are common. Journalists frequently experience physical assaults, death threats, and murder as a result of their work. In March 2002, Reporters Sans Frontieres noted that 10 journalists have died under suspicious circumstances in the past four years, while another 41 have suffered serious injury from attacks. In October, the body of Ukrainian News director Mykhailo Kolomyets was discovered in northwestern Belarus nearly a week after he had disappeared from Kyiv. Kolomyets's news agency had at times been critical of the government. The case remained open by year's end. The well-publicized murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze also remains unsolved. Although print and broadcast media are largely in private hands, the state maintains control over the central printing and distributing centers.