Criminal proceedings instituted against Ukraine’s parliamentary newspaper

Since the very first days of Ukraine’s independence the Supreme Rada got its personal periodical. A new editorial staff was formed to publish the Ukraine’s Voice parliamentary newspaper. The journalists were provided with wonderful conditions for a successful work: the editorial office was situated in the center of Ukrainian capital, Kiev; the equipment and computers of the new office were up-to-date and the personnel got high wages. That is why for many people it was a dream to be employed at the newspaper.

But the time was passing by, new commercial editions and newspapers appeared, that lessened the popularity of the Rada’s edition. Moreover, the parliament decided to appropriate quotas for publications in Ukraine’s Voice to the factions and groups of the Supreme Rada. And sometimes the deputies published in the newspaper the information that was hardly understood by the readers.

Year after year the circulation of Ukraine’s Voice was reducing that lessened its authority as well. Editor-in-chief, Ukrainian people’s deputy Sergey Pravdenko became a parliamentarian as a member of Pavel Lazarenko’s party; now he is in Julia Timoshenko’s opposition faction. For this very reason the edition is taking a rather critical position towards the reforms of Leonid Kuchma.

Recently the Accounts Chamber of the Supreme Rada has held a check-up of spending the budgetary funds appropriated for publication of the newspaper. Chairman of the Chamber Valentin Simonenko says, the check-up has revealed several violations of the legislation in force. President Leonid Kuchma has been informed of the fact. The President charged the General Office of the Public Prosecutor with investigation of the case. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against the editorial staff of Ukraine’s Voice.

Yesterday, at opening of Supreme Rada’s final session Editor-in-chief of Ukraine’s Voice Sergey Pravdenko spoke in public. He told, the editorial staff considered the institution of the legal proceedings a revenge act for the criticism of the authorities. The editor-in-chief also rejected the result of the checks-up held by the Accounts Chamber. The editorial staff of the newspaper has brought an action against the chairman of the Accounts Chamber for spreading false information. Ukraine’s Voice considers the actions of the Prosecutor’s Office to be pressure on the freedom of speech.

The reaction of the Supreme Rada on the statement will be published on Thursday only. The parliament will vote for the passed decrees and laws on this day.

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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