IFJ Call For Solidarity as Hunger Strike by Journalists Inspires Ukraine Protests against Election Censorship

The International Federation of Journalists today called on journalists around the world to send messages of support and solidarity to colleagues at the Ukrainian independent Broadcaster, Kanal 5, where over 250 staff have entered their fourth day of hunger strike.

Yesterday the strike inspired journalists in the state media when 42 leading journalists in four major TV stations issued a statement calling for an assertion of professional ethics and complaining that “Contrary to the standards of professional journalism, the authorities, with several owners and managers of TV channels which they pressurize, are striving to conceal important developments or to distort them.”

One immediate result of the protests has been a commitment given this morning by the authorities to allow journalists access to the count on Sunday’s Presidential election.

“This is a defining moment for Ukrainian journalism,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. “Ukrainian journalists in both the independent and state controlled media are taking enormous personal risk for the public’s right to know. We owe it to them to show our support and we urge all journalists’ groups to send their messages of support today.”

Media coverage of the campaign has been heavily distorted in favour of the government candidate, Mr Yanukovich, and Kanal 5 is the only national broadcaster that has tried to break this pattern by providing coverage to the opposition candidate, Mr Yuschenko.

The hunger strike, which started on Monday, was provoked by a court decision to revoke Kanal 5’s license and freeze its bank accounts on 18 October.

The IFJ is asking its member unions in 117 countries to send messages of solidarity to press officer Alyona Matusko at Channel 5, email: [email protected].

An IFJ mission currently in the Ukraine met with the Kanal 5 journalists yesterday and issued a report on the situation. The mission was sent to monitor the conditions under which journalists were working during the election campaign. A full report will be published in November.

Meanwhile Mr Kivalov, the head of the Central Election Commission today gave assurances to members of the IFJ mission that journalists would be allowed access to monitor the counting process on election day.

Further information contact Oliver Money-Kyrle: +32 2 235 22 04
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries