My friend Sasha has forwarded me this report by the Committee to Protect Journalists - "in case someone thought something had improved" was the title of his message:
UKRAINE: LOCAL AUTHORITIES CLOSE CRITICAL NEWSPAPER
Closure of independent weekly Dzerzhinets in the central Ukrainian city of Dneprodzerzhynsk and the harassment of its editor-in-chief.
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
New York, New York, Wed, March 14, 2007
NEW YORK - The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the
closure of independent weekly Dzerzhinets in the central Ukrainian city of Dneprodzerzhynsk and the harassment of its editor-in-chief.
Dzerzhinets was closed on January 30, after the Zavodskoi civil district
court convicted the paper of defamation and incitement of religious and national hatred.
Founder and Editor-in-chief Margarita Zakora said the decision is related to
the paper's highly critical articles about local businessmen and officials
that revealed corruption in the city.
According to Zakora, authorities have tried to prevent her from launching a
defense or filing an appeal by not informing her of court dates and blocking
her access to case files. Zakora said she received a notice informing her of
an appeal court session scheduled for January 30-three days after it occurred.
A week before, the same court ordered the seizure of property belonging to
the journalist and the paper, and the payment of 140,660 hryvnias (US$29,071) in defamation damages to a local police chief for articles accusing him of corruption and intentionally violating the city's laws.
This court session was also held without Zakora's knowledge; she was
informed of the decision January 31, when she found court notices stuck to
her front door.
Authorities have refused Zakora's appeal, saying the time limit has passed.
Zakora maintains she could not meet the deadline because she received the
court's notification too late.
"The closure of Dzerzhinets comes at the end of a seriously flawed judicial
process which has denied our colleague Margarita Zakora the right to answer
her accusers," Executive Director Joel Simon said.
"The paper Dzerzhinets must be allowed to appeal this verdict, which should
be overturned. We also call on local police to investigate the attacks on
Zakora and guarantee her safety."
On July 12, pornographic cartoons of the journalist were pasted on the walls
of her office building, the local library, and other public places.
Dzerzhinets reporter Nadezhda Kuznetsova also received the cartoons and a
copy of the paper by mail, which she turned over to the local prosecutor's office.
On June 17, 2006 an unidentified gunman fired into her apartment window,
days after the paper carried a letter to the editor critical of local
businessmen. Police had opened a criminal investigation, but no arrests were