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Editor of independent daily resigns in response to "political censorship"

(IMI/IFEX) - The following is a statement from IMI, an interim member of IFEX:

Gazeta 24's editor-in-chief Portnikov resigns due to political censorship

On 9 October 2007, the harshly critical journalist Vitaliy Portnikov resigned as editor-in-chief of "Gazeta 24" daily newspaper and of the media holding "MediaDim". Portnikov cited "political censorship" as the motive for his resignation in an open letter to the journalists and to readers of "Gazeta 24". The text of his letter follows:

"I regret to inform you that I had to cease fulfilling my duties as editor-in-chief of "Gazeta 24" and MediaDim. I took the decision after speaking to the investor Volodymyr Kosterniy, who claimed it was necessary for the management of the company to set up supervision over the activity of the editorial office, and who confirmed the company's intention to implement political control over the newspaper.

"When 'Gazeta 24' was created, the first thing we agreed upon was to create a model, high-quality independent national daily. This model was to be free of any political pressure on the editorial staff, as well as on me perosnally. I won't make it secret, since the very first days I took position of chief editor and then editor-in-chief at 'Gazeta 24', I faced pressure to publish articles that did not meet the standard of our newspaper. At first I succeeded in resisting these pressures more or less effectively, protecting the editorial staff from being used politically by the newspaper's main investor and his closest allies. After the legislative elections, the situation changed drastically, as the party headed by Volodymyr Kosterniy failed to perform well. The media outlets belonging to the investor were made scapegoats: TV Tonis and 'Gazeta 24' daily. Attempts to replace the management were made. ( . . . )

"I think the emergence of 'Gazeta 24' proved to its journalists and readers that every thinking person in the Ukraine needed a high-grade and interesting daily. I was dreaming of such a newspaper since I began practicing journalism. I am grateful to the editorial staff that I was working with all that time: I enjoyed to working with such professional and selfless people. I am certain our work has not been in vain. I have no doubts it will be continued very soon."

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