TVi, the independent broadcasting station, which has been under continual politically-motivated harrassment for several months, today suffered a further blow to its existence when the Ukrainian tax service won its case against TVi in the appeal court. Earlier, the case against TVi which alleged that the broadcaster owed 9 million hr in taxes was thrown out by a lower court because of lack of evidence. In addition, Ukraine's Economic Ministry has frozen all TVi's foreign currency accounts, which TVi's Director-General, Mykola Kniazhytsky has said is both absurd and without any legal grounds. TVi had already been banned from carrying out foreign transactions, which included fees for foreign news agency fees.

Ukrainian journalists believe that TVi is being targeted because its independent investigative reporting has made them persona non grata in Yanukovych government circles.

To read more about this story in Ukrainian, click here, and in English, click here

This is not the only example of attempts being made to silence inconvenient independent journalism. The journal "Ukrayinskiy Tyzhden" in its latest issue had a lead article about media manipulation and media business interests in Ukraine, which was critical of many media moguls, including the President of "Ukraine Media Holdings", Boris Lozhkin, with a front page cartoon which included Mr Lozhkin. On the day of publication, the journal was not on sale in several cities, including Kyiv. The distributors claimed there were 'technical' problems but, oddly enough, the distributors who were having these problems are apparently part of Mr Lozhkin's business empire. To read the article that caused the problems, click here (in Ukrainian only).

And in Poltava, the Party of the Regions candidate, Oleksiy Lelyuk, has applied for a court order to prevent the regional newspaper from being published until after the election, because it republished an article from 'Korrespondent' about the reasons why people should not vote for Mr Lelyuk.

President Yanukovych has said that the media in Ukraine is free and that opposing perceptions are due to a lack of understanding. He has also called on journalists to be politically aware and report on the elections to the highest ethical standards. But journalists fear that the government and its friends are trying to prevent voters from reading anything before the election that is critical of the ruling party or demonstrates its independence. They could well be right...

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