Media News - Friday, September 21, 2012
Ukrainian opposition parties sounded the alarm on Wednesday over a move by President Viktor Yanukovich's allies in parliament to reinstate defamation as a crime, saying it was aimed at further curbing the free press ahead of an election next month. The draft law, which would provide for prison terms of up to five years for offenders, was rushed through its first reading on Tuesday by deputies of Yanukovich's Party of the Regions and their allies who hold the majority in parliament. It would apply to anyone, including the media, who spread "deliberately untrustworthy information" which denigrated a person, hurt their honour and dignity or undermined their business reputation. The proposal to return the old Soviet law to the statute books 11 years after it was removed came as opposition parties marshalled their forces for an Oct. 28 parliamentary election which - with key opposition figures such as former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in jail - promises to be an acrimonious contest. The United States and other Western governments say moves to curb media criticism inside the country form part of a gradual back-sliding on democracy and a trend towards greater authoritarianism in the country since Yanukovich came to power in February 2010. (Reuters)
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