4 February 1998


Daily newspaper shut down

Incident details

legal action

(CPJ/IFEX) - On 28 January 1998 the government of the Ukraine shut down the
opposition daily newspaper "Pravda Ukrainy", two months before national
parliamentary elections. According to the newspaper's editor, Oleksander
Horobets, the shutdown occurred when the state publishing house, Presa
Ukrainy, announced it would no longer publish the newspaper on the order of
the Ministry of Information. Information Minister Zinoviy Kulyk gave the
order after it withdrew `Pravda Ukrainy's' registration with the ministry,
which is required by law, citing a technical error. The order claimed that
the percentage of shares listed in the ownership documents added up to 110,
and not 100, percent. The mathematical error cited by the ministry actually
occurred in September 1997 when he applied to reregister the paper and to
register two new publications, which was refused by the ministry. `Pravda
Ukrainy's' original registration, valid since July 1994, contained no such

The ministry's decision was most likely prompted by a recent series of
articles about government corruption, particularly one piece, published on
27 January 1998, which detailed how some top government officials improperly
or illegally obtained apartments. Horobets attributed what he called the
"unprecedented move" against `Pravda Ukrainy' to its critical stance against
the government and its editorial support of a rival political party,
Hromada. The newspaper's national circulation had grown from 70,000 to over
a half-million in just six months, and this factor also contributed to the
government's perception that its dominant role in the media was threatened.

`Pravda Ukrainy' is now being printed in a private printing house which
publishes the popular independent daily "Kievskie Vedomosti." After several
issues had been published, the company received an official warning from the
ministry that it would face a similar fate if it continued to publish
`Pravda Ukrainy.' The newspaper's bank accounts have been frozen and it may
be evicted from its offices.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • condemning their shutdown and silencing of `Pravda Ukrainy' as a violation
    of all international norms of free expression
  • urging them to reinstate Pravda Ukrainy's registration and halt all
    official harassment against it

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Leonid Kuchma
    President of Ukraine
    Fax: 011-380-44-293-7364/ 291-6161 / 293-1001

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 465 9568

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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