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Ukraine has moved up 15 places in the World Press Freedom Index [http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2011-2012,1043.html ] published this week, reflecting an improved media landscape in the nation during what proved to be a year of critical world attention.
Ukraine climbed from 131 to 116 on the international table placing it well above many former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan at 122, Russia at 142, Kazakhstan 154, Uzbekistan 157 and Belarus 168out of the 178 countries surveyed globally. The World Press Freedom Index 2011/2012 was produced by Reporters Without Borders.
The boost to Ukraine’s ranking in 2011 reflects a more relaxed working and reporting environment for both domestic journalists and those who visited the country during a year of difficult long-running issues. The trial of Yulia Tymoshenko for abuse of office in committing the cabinet, without consultation, to very high gas prices with Russia in 2009 drew sustained critical reportage both domestically and internationally and the on-going gas dispute with Russia has also been featured.
“While we don’t agree with many foreign assessments of media freedom in our country the Government of Ukraine notes the substantial improvement in our global ranking from Reporters Without Borders,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
“Last year showed that journalists in this country are free to cover the important issues whether favourable or unfavourable to the government.
“We invite those same journalists to also report the story of Ukraine’s economic improvements, our commitment to our European identity, and the progress toward an Association Agreement with the European Union,” the spokesman said.
A new Electoral Law, modelled on the Council of Europe’s recommendations and requirements, was recently approved by the Ukraine’s Parliament with the support of both the Government and the Opposition. This should set the scene for fair and democratic elections next October.
The EU has significant economic interests in the country, with considerable imports of natural gas that transit Ukraine, and trade valued at some EUR40 billion a year. In 2011 Ukraine’s GDP grew by 5.2 percent and inflation declined from nine percent to five percent.