World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 7 February 2012

Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 7 February 2012

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His Excellency Viktor Yanukovych
President of Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine 

7 February 2012


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our grave concern regarding a court decision that puts into doubt the existence of daily newspaper Express.

On 21 December 2011, the Lviv Economic Court ruled that one of the newspaper’s statutory documents was invalid, which threatens the future of the newspaper. The decision of judge Tatiana Sergejevna Kostiv was reached in a surprisingly short period and the sentence ignored recognized legal precedents that supported the legitimacy of Express’ claim. Shortly after the judgment, government representatives allegedly contacted Express to offer to overturn the decision if Express agreed to soften its criticism towards the government.

We and other observers believe the case to be politically motivated.

We respectfully remind you that trying to pressure a newspaper through unfair trials is a blatant act of censorship and violates numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'

Express, Ukraine’s biggest circulation newspaper, has been subject to a series of intimidatory acts in the past years. In November 2011, members of its staff were threatened for their investigative work exposing fraud and corruption amongst senior officials of the ruling party, the Party of the Regions. Express’ editor-in-chief, Mr Igor Pochynok, has reportedly been the victim of arson attacks, smear campaigns and repeatedly threatened of criminal prosecution.

This case only deepens our concerns about the press freedom situation in your country. On 17 November 2011, we called on you to ensure that the case of Oleksandr Vlaschenko, an investigative reporter for Nashe Misto weekly, who was shot in the head by unidentified attackers on 15 October, was thoroughly investigated and those responsible for this attack were quickly brought to justice. We also expressed our concern on a draft bill that could restrict access to electronic information resources and called upon your government to ensure the law is not adopted. Until this date, we have not received any response from your government addressing these concerns.

We would therefore like to reiterate our will to initiate talks as to how your government is guaranteeing the freedom of the press and thus fulfilling its commitment to freedom of expression, in the run-up to the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum, to be held in your country September next.

We call on you to ensure that all intimidation tactics against daily newspaper Express are brought to an end. We also call for a thorough investigation on the identity of the officials that offered to overturn the court’s decision and on whose authority that was done. We ask you do to everything in your power to guarantee that court decisions are totally free from government influence in Ukraine.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,


Jacob Mathew
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum 


WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Cc: Ms Darka Chepak, Head of the Interagency Working Group


William Granger's picture

William Granger


2012-02-07 16:26

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...