IFJ, EFJ concerned by growing political bias at Ukrainian News Agency

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional

group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today expressed their

concern over growing  political interference at the Ukraine Independent News Agency (UNIAN). 

"We are worried that a press agency which used to be trusted by

professionals and by the public is becoming instrumentalised by politicians,"

said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. 

"We support UNIAN journalists in their struggle for journalism as

a public good and we call on the management to respect professional standards and stop the ongoing harassment campaign

against the staff," said EFJ President Arne König.

The UNIAN News Agency is one of oldest and largest news agencies

in Ukraine. Its claim to balanced and independent coverage of political

developments has been under threat since a change of management in 2012 that

has put its editorial independence increasingly at risk.

In May 2012, UNIAN journalists demanded the creation of an

independent editorial board, which was refused. Instead, the new management

forced experienced journalists to quit their jobs by systematically delaying payment

of their salaries or refusing to renew their working contracts. In November

2012, the management gave instructions to forbid articles that put Ukraine's

President Yanukovich in a negative context. The subsequent threats to fine two journalists for

posting critical articles led to vigorous protests by the IFJ's affiliate, the

Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU).

On 11 February 2013, opposition political parties accused UNIAN of

publishing untruthful, biased reports.

"Not only is the UNIAN News Agency losing money, but its

conversion into one more voice for Ukrainian authorities will do further damage

to media freedom in Ukraine" said Yuryi Lukanov, IMTUU President.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries