The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have joined their affiliates, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), in condemning the local government of Ukrainian city Kremenchuk for its interference in local TV Channel ‘Visit'.
According to the unions, the Kremenchuk city government filed a court appeal to pass ownership of ‘Visit' into its control. This renationalization of an effective and independent media is taking place despite the Ukrainian national government's official policy of denationalisation of state owned media.
The union also says that during a working session of the Kremenchuk city government, Mayor of the city, Oleg Babayev, insulted and threatened journalists from ‘Visit' and the newspapers ‘Panorama Plus' and ‘Kremenchuk Telegraph,' for their coverage of the city's Celebration Day events.
"We strongly condemn the Kremenchuk city government's disgraceful treatment of ‘Visit' TV Channel which has been operating privately for the last 20 years," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "This is a blatant attempt by the city's government to censor and control free and independent media in the city and directly violates the rights of journalists in the country. Such blatant disregard for media freedom cannot be tolerated."
The National Union of Journalists Ukraine and the IMTUU have stated that they will take the necessary legal and policy steps to stop the Kremenchuk city government's pressure on local media and make them abide by the law.
"The Ukraine has to meet international standards of guaranteeing a pluralist media ownership environment which does not include the forced nationalization of critical private media," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. "It is utterly unacceptable that the Kremenchuk city government has taken this absurd decision. We offer our full support to our affiliates in their fight to protect media freedom in the Ukraine."