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
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in