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