TV UT-1 chief closed “Toloka” political program

16:19, 20 March 2007
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Censorship resumes in Ukraine

A “Toloka” program, in which opposition leaders talked live on Monday evening, was not repeatedly broadcast this morning, as it was scheduled before.

      According to program’s author Victor Pavliuk, he was informed about that by TV UT-1 chief Vitaliy Dokalenko. In addition, the author was told that his program is closed at all.

      “Toloka” was the only political show on the First National Television (UT-1). The program had been broadcast for a year already, but, according to the author, there has not been any pressure until now. Yesterday the program was attended by opposition leaders: BYuT faction chief Yulia Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine faction leader Viacheslav Kyrylenko. The author is convinced that his program was closed namely due to this reason. “Probably, hard times have come for the freedom of speech in Ukraine, he said.

      V.Dokalenko confirmed that the program was removed from the air, though he rules out any pressure. According to him, the program was closed because of the low professionalism of the presenter. In particular, V.Dokalenko said: “I had serious claims about the level of preparing the program, the presenter’s behavior, the on-line organization. I myself tried to call both the telephone numbers, but I just could not reach to support of the current powers”.

      BYuT opposition bloc called on President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko to immediately dismiss V.Dokalenko from the post of the UT-1 chief, and turned to PACE with a request to give an assessment to the anti-democratic processes, taking place in Ukraine.

      The Kyiv Independent Media Trade Union is deeply concerned about closing “Toloka” program and regards it as a political pressure upon TV journalists.

      According to Trade Union’s chief Mykhaylyna Skoryk, it is a dangerous signal for all journalists. “The yesterday’s “Toloka” indicated the highest rating through all the history of this program. Considering this fact, accusing the presenter of his low professionalism, sounds, at least, untimely”, she stressed.

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