Freedoms Being Suppressed, Journalists Complain

Article excerpt

Press freedoms in Ukraine have taken a turn for the worse in the past year, with some journalists worrying the trend may continue after today's presidential runoff.

"Freedom of the press in Ukraine in the way it was a year ago, we don't have now," said one Ukrainian news director of a television station who asked not to be named. "It wasn't as bad under the Communists."

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to President Leonid Kuchma inquiring about recent attempts to censor four opposition newspapers prior to the first round of presidential elections on Oct. 31.

According to CPJ, local printing houses in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kryviy Rih and Luhansk refused to print four newspapers that had endorsed Mr. Kuchma's political rivals.

"We are troubled by the Kuchma regime's increasingly flagrant efforts to silence opposition news media, particularly during the run-up to the October 31 presidential election," wrote Executive Director Ann K. Cooper.

"Your campaign to stifle all critical expression over the last several years has fostered a climate of fear and self-censorship in which no genuinely independent news media can survive," she wrote.

Ukrainian journalists say the crackdown began at the start of the campaign season. …