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Ann Cooper   Committee to Protect Journalists   23Sep99   Official harassment of STB TV
"Your government's crackdown against STB is part of an alarming trend of state harassment directed against opposition and independent news media in Ukraine." Ann Cooper

George-Soros-installed Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma continues on his relentless path to transform Ukraine from a fledgling democracy to a mafia dictatorship, and to transform himself from a mere corrupt politician to a mafia godfather.  The chief benefit to Leonid Kuchma of re-election will be that he avoids for a while longer prosecution for the crimes he has committed while in office.  Unfortunately for Leonid Kuchma, however, his victory this October will only delay the day of reckoning, and in the end will only increase the number of crimes for which he will be answerable.

The information below comes from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), whose home page may be accessed by clicking on this link, http://www.cpj.org, or on the CPJ logo below:
External link to CPJ


Please see also the CPJ Enemies of the Press ranking for 1999.





Ukraine: Bureaucrats bear down on independent TV station




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September 23, 1999

His Excellency Leonid Kuchma
President of Ukraine
vul. Bankivska 11
Kyiv, Ukraine

Via Fax: 011-380-44-293-7364  /  291-6161  /  293-1001

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is greatly troubled by the ongoing official harassment of STB TV, an independent station that reaches 80 percent of the television-watching population of Ukraine.

For nearly six months, STB has endured repeated hostile inspections by at least nine government agencies, including a number of random tax audits by municipal tax authorities.  The bureaucratic scrutiny intensified recently, as the channel boosts its presidential campaign coverage during the runup to the October 31 election.  Unlike state-run television, STB has granted air time to your political opponents.

On August 26, local tax officials froze STB's bank accounts at UkrExImBank, claiming the station had failed to submit tax documents on time.  But the station's lawyers say many of the documents demanded by tax inspectors had already been requisitioned by the state radio and television broadcasting committee, which is also investigating STB.  It was thus physically impossible for STB to comply with the tax inspectors' demands.

With its bank accounts frozen, STB has been forced to suspend production of a new program about the Ukrainian parliament, which serves as a platform for several rival presidential candidates.  With no access to operating capital, it may be forced to lay off some or all of its 3000 employees.  And if STB fails to pay for transmission services this month, the station may be forced off the air altogether.

STB has filed suit against the state tax administration and the state frequency commission, charging that these two agencies are engaging in a coordinated campaign of harassment designed to put the station out of business.

Your government's crackdown against STB is part of an alarming trend of state harassment directed against opposition and independent news media in Ukraine.  Media that provide favorable coverage of your excellency's activities are not subjected to the hostile bureaucratic scrutiny suffered by media that do not.

As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom around the world, CPJ strongly protests your government's campaign against STB TV, which may result in its closure less than a month before the October 31 presidential election.  This latest attempt to silence independent voices violates all your country's international obligations to respect press freedom.  We urge you to use your authority to halt the politically motivated abuse of press laws and regulations by state officials.  We further urge you to guarantee the internationally-recognized right of STB and all journalists in Ukraine to work without interference from the state.

Sincerely,

Ann K.  Cooper
Executive Director



Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in the Ukraine

Send a letter to:

His Excellency Leonid Kuchma
President of Ukraine
vul.  Bankivska 11
Kyiv, Ukraine
Via Fax: 011-380-44-293-7364 / 291-6161 / 293-1001