Europe and Central Asia cases 2004: Country List    I   Europe and Central Asia Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

JANUARY 28, 2004
Posted: April 21, 2004

Silski Visti

Tthe Shevchenkivskyy District Court in the Ukraineís capital, Kyiv, ordered the closure of the popular opposition daily Silski Visti for publishing excerpts from a book, which was widely considered anti-Semitic, in the form of paid advertisements in a September 2003 issue.

Local and international reports, however, suggest that the issue of anti-Semitism was used as pretext to close Silski Visti, which was critical of the government and supportive of the opposition Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) in an election year.

While some Ukrainians found the advertisements offensive, they said that closing the paper was unjust. Yevhen Chervonenko, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress—which represents Jewish communities in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine—and a member of the Ukraineís Parliament, called the closure a "calculated provocation by the presidential administration against the media."

Chervonenko said that while Silski Visti should apologize for the advertisements, the ads were not sufficient reasons for closing the publication. He cited other instances of publishing ethnically sensitive materials in Ukrainian media that went unnoticed by authorities and called Silski Visti "a victim of double standards," the Kyiv based Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.

MARCH 3, 2004
Posted: April 21, 2004

Radio Kontinent

Independent station Radio Kontinent was raided by police and taken off the air. The police confiscated the stationís radio transmitter and broadcasting equipment and sealed the offices.

The move came after five days after Kontinent began rebroadcasting the Ukrainian Service programming of the U.S.–government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on its 100.9 FM frequency.

According to local and international reports, the raid was ordered by the Ukrainian State Center of Radio Frequencies and Supervision for Telecommunication (Ukrchastotnaglyad), the regulatory body responsible for assigning radio frequencies, allegedly because of Kontinentís expired broadcasting license. However, as many local reports noted, Kontinentís broadcasting license had expired in 2001, raising questions as to why the station was closed three years later, and leading others to speculate that the raid was designed to squelch critical reports during the run-up to the October presidential elections.

AUGUST 17, 2004
Posted: August 20, 2004

Dmitry Shkuropat, Iskra

Shkuropat, a correspondent for the independent weekly Iskra (Spark), was beaten in the middle of the day on a main street in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye. Taped interviews for an article about government corruption were taken.

An unknown assailant intercepted Dmitry about 1:30 p.m and began beating him without explanation, according to Shkuropat and local press reports. Shkuropat, who was on his way to Iskra's newsroom, fell to the ground and lost consciousness.

In a telephone interview, Shkuropat said the assailant took a bag containing two tape recorders with interviews for his pending story. Shkuropat was with a colleague from the news agency UNIAN, but she was not harmed and nothing was taken from her.

Press reports said local police have opened an investigation. Attempts by CPJ to reach police for comment were unsuccessful.

Iskra's director, Viktor Ilichyov, told CPJ that the newspaper often receives intimidating phone calls from local business and political authorities after publishing critical articles. He refused to identify the callers, saying he feared retaliation.

Ilichyov said he believes Shkuropat was targeted for his work. "Given the topics that Dmitry investigates," he said, "this attack cannot be a random robbery." For the past two years, Shkuropat has reported on regional crime and government corruption.

Two months ago, Shkuropat said, several unknown men threatened his girlfriend. The assailants told her that she would be harmed unless Shkuropat stopped his investigative reporting, he said.