Washington, D.C., March 10, 2004 – The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) unanimously passed a resolution today urging the Government of Ukraine to “end its campaign of intimidation and pressure on independent media.”
The BBG, which supervises all U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA), also called on Ukraine’s government to permit the resumption of all broadcasts on Radio Kontynent, which was shut down in a raid by Ukrainian authorities on March 3. The station carried RFE/RL and VOA programs.
President Leonid Kuchma’s government should “eliminate barriers to broadcasts of international radio programs on local radio stations throughout Ukraine,” the resolution said.
In addition, Ukraine should “investigate thoroughly and openly” the death of Heorhiy Chechyk, owner of Poltava Radio and Television, who was killed March 3 in an automobile accident en route to Kyiv to meet RFE/RL officials to discuss carrying RFE/RL programs on his radio station, the resolution said.
“There are some very disturbing developments coming out of Ukraine regarding media and the ability of Ukrainians to get accurate news and information,” said Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the BBG’s chairman. “We need to support the people of Ukraine.”
Steven J. Simmons, chairman of the BBG’s RFE/RL Committee, said, “The freedom of the press has never been more important than right now – 2004 – with the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine.”
RFE/RL President Thomas Dine, who has called the actions against the media in Ukraine outrageous, said, “Freedom of expression is a universal human right – and those who work to suppress it should pay the consequences.”
“The Voice of America has a reputation around the world for providing balanced and reliable news,” said VOA Director David Jackson. “Silencing that Voice is not in Ukraine’s interest.”
The BBG’s resolution also noted that Radio Dovira, an FM network in Ukraine, dropped RFE/RL’s popular Ukrainian programs on February 17, ending a successful five-year partnership. Virtually all Ukraine’s electronic media are now directly or indirectly controlled or influenced by the government, the resolution said.
The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle Television Network (Alhurra); Radio Free Asia (RFA); Office of Cuban Broadcasting (Radio and TV Mart