Harassment of Journalists at Ukraine News Agency Must End, say IFJ/EFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and

its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have expressed

their deep concern at the ongoing mismanagement, political interference and censorship

of the Ukraine National News Agency (UNIAN).

According to IFJ/EFJ affiliate, the Independent Media

Trade-Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), on Wednesday 28 August, five journalists working

at the agency were blocked from accessing their work stations and were informed

that they were being moved to the newly established TV-news monitoring unit.

The five journalists were involved in protests in

October 2012 against UNIAN management following allegations of censorship and

fake stories at the agency.

"We are stunned by the blatant victimisation of these

journalists. The UNIAN management has ignored the collective agreement and is

instead punishing and silencing these journalists for standing up for the

truth," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

"This arrogant abuse of power is the latest in a

series of actions by UNIAN management that continue to attack independent and

critical journalism within the country's leading news agency."

The decision to move the five journalists follows a

series of acts of mismanagement at the agency over the last year. In November

2012, the IFJ/EFJ condemned the agency for fining two journalists who had

posted an article criticizing the Ukrainian President, while in February

concern was raised at the growing political interference at the station.

In an open letter issued on 28 August by the five UNIAN

staff members, they said that the decision to move them was "persecution" and

an attempt to "introduce total political censorship" at UNIAN.

The IMTUU has stated that the latest decision by the

UNIAN management brutally infringes the labour rights of the journalists, and is

damaging the reputation of the agency.

"We are deeply worried that the reputation of this

agency, which was once trusted and respected by professionals and by the public,

is being destroyed by political interference," said EFJ President Mogens

Blicher-Bjerregård. "The climate of fear and media censorship that continues to

spread at UNIAN and across the Ukrainian media as a whole must end."

"We offer our continued support to UNIAN staff and

journalists in their ongoing struggle for independent journalism as a public

good at the agency and we call on UNIAN management to stop this campaign of

harassment against their staff."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235

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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in

134 countries