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STB TV journalists denounce censorship

(IMI/IFEX) - In an open letter, journalists from the "Vikna" programme, broadcast on STB TV channel, said they are being subjected to systematic censorship. The letter appeared on "Ukrayinska Prvada"'s online edition.

The journalists claimed that after the presidential election "the focus shifted in stories covering the activities of the minister of education, Dmytro Tabachnyk, and other issues such as the OUN-UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army) and Holodomor (mass starvation of 1932-1933)."

The programme's current news policy is limited to "coverage of political issues 'in one line' and avoiding any extensive coverage, renouncing 'traditional journalistic investigations', avoiding any ironic tone, and not covering any issues regarding properties or expenses made by Ukrainian politicians".

"We support our colleagues from 1+1 TV channel and appeal to all journalists from other mass media to join us in resisting the newly imposed censorship in Ukraine", the open letter said. The STB TV journalists began gathering evidence of the censorship at the time of the presidential campaign. On 6 December 2009, during a meeting of the Media-Front union at STB TV, they recorded several incidents of censorship:

- In 2008 as the journalists were editing a story on the privatization of the state residency "Mezhgyrrya" by opposition leader Victor Yanukovich, editor-in-chief Oleksiy Mustafin took the story off the air;
- In 2009 the channel's management forbid journalists from reporting on high-ranking officials' residencies in Pushcha Vodytsya and Koncha-Zaspa;
- STB TV management forbid journalists from covering Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's birthday and a well known video of Tymoshenko saying "It's all over!";
- Critical stories on the Kyiv city hall and Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy were also forbidden;
- Only after the journalistic staff exerted pressure did the channel's management authorise them to broadcast a story on plagiarism of the election campaign song by Victor Yanukovich's team;
- STV TV quashed a story on a kitten offered by "Vikna" journalists to Yushchenko after the president gave it to a veterinary clinic;
- And finally, some footage of the Party of Regions rallies was censored. No shots of the drunken participants were broadcast.

The letter is signed by managing editors Ella Bilostotska, Maria Zaplavska, correspondents Serhiy Andrushko, Maryana Bukhan, Pavlyna Vasylenko, Olena Gayvan, Olga Golovina, Denys Danko, Maryana Zinkivska, Dmytro Lytvynenko, Oleksandra Mitina, Osman Pashaev, Olga Simanovich, Yana Slisarchuk, Anna Suryadnova, and anchor Tetyana Vysotska.

The day before, journalists from another national TV channel, 1+1, protested that they are being subjected to censorship. On 6 May 2010, TSN journalists met with the deputy head of the presidential administration, Hanna Herman. Herman concluded after this meeting: "I could not find out who was behind the censorship. This is a kind of self-censorship".

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