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Kyiv, Ukraine – “There is a complete freedom of self-expression and no censorship in Ukraine,” stated the Head of the Delegation of the EU to Ukraine Jan Tombinski. At the same time, he said, there was an issue regarding the ability of citizens to express their views through the media.
Tombinski mentioned that the Ukrainian media were focused on influencing voters instead of educating them. It is only after the election that it would be possible to see to what extent access to the media or its absence influenced the results of the vote, he added. Many international and local activists, including the international NGO CANADEM, indicate that media freedom has been an important factor for Ukrainian voters while making an informed choice at the October 28 parliamentary elections.
While the media in Ukraine is widely criticized for placing paid publications and spreading biased information regarding both the opposition and the ruling party, Freedom House gave free Internet freedom status to Ukraine in the organization’s September 2012 report. Ukraine received 27 points out of 100 (maximum points indicate the least free environment) – the best Internet freedom result among the researched CIS countries.
“Ukraine has relatively liberal legislation governing the Internet and access to information,” reads the report. The document states that access to broadband Internet in Ukraine is fairly affordable, Internet penetration in Ukraine has been growing steadily, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and LiveJournal are freely available. The authors note that the backbone connection of UA-IX to the international Internet is not centralized.
Notably, in September 2012, Ukraine hosted the 64th World Newspaper Congress and 19 World Editors Forum. Almost 1,000 representatives of the world-leading media from more than 90 countries attended the event in Ukraine, receiving first-hand experience in the state of the media environment in the Eastern European country. International media CEOs had a chance to meet Ukrainian government officials and reflect on the issues of freedom of press and speech in Ukraine.
The issue of media freedom is particularly important on the eve of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will take place on October 28, 2012.