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Politicians interfere in political talk show programming during election campaign

(IMI/IFEX) - It has been revealed that politicians have been interfering in the creation of lists of journalists who can take part in political talk shows. In doing so, the politicians are attempting to intervene in the content of television programmes where they are scheduled to speak. Serhiy Leshchenko, a journalist for the "Ukrayinska Pravda" online newspaper, claimed that he was invited to take part in the live broadcast programme "Svoboda", aired by the Ukraina television station, but then was later refused permission to participate. Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko was scheduled to answer journalists' questions on the programme. After Tymoshenko agreed to the list of journalists invited to participate in the programme, it was found that Leshchenko's name had been crossed off, according to information published by the journalist on 18 December 2009 on his personal "Ukrayinska Pravda" blog.

Leshchenko said: "The press cutting service suggested not to include my name in the list of the journalists invited to the live broadcast today with her, and the Savik Shuster Studio didn't dare to contest it."

During the live broadcast, Tymoshenko was asked about this incident and the part she played in agreeing to have some journalists on the list of invitees while others were excluded. The prime minister replied that she was not solely in charge of the list, but she did not refute the fact that some journalists were accepted to take part in the programme with her while others were not.

Similar practices were revealed by Evgeniy Kyselyov, a well-known journalist and anchor of another live broadcast programme, "Major politics", which is aired by the "Inter" television station. Kyselyov said, "Since I invite politicians to take part in a collective interview, I respect their right to discuss with me who is to present the questions to them."

IMI previously disseminated information about this incident on its French page. On 4 December, Tymoshenko was to take part in a broadcast of "Major politics", but the names of three journalists, "Ukrayinska Pravda"'s Leshchenko, Roman Skrypine, from the TVi television station, and Olexandre Tchalenko, from the daily "Ségodna", were crossed off the lists.

Any intrusion into the editorial policies of the mass media is defined as censorship by Ukrainian Law.

A presidential election campaign is underway in Ukraine, with the first round of voting scheduled for 17 January 2010.

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