Freedom of speech in Ukraine

Freedom of Speech in Ukraine

Now it`s time to rewind past and grasp how far is now Ukraine in such democratical indicator of social life as freedom of speech and media. We have a very rich history of periodicals, radio and then television, but it related to Russian history and mass-media development too, as we were in the borders of same state for a very long time. Thus we should draw a parallel between modern Russian and Ukrainian mass-media and try to estimate the level of freedom in them.


For a long time periodicals in Tsarist Russia were subjected to prior censorship. This meant that no issue could not get out of sight of the specially authorized  censor and be published without his agreement. Censorship under no circumstances did not allow to criticize the authorities designated by autocratic government. Could be only individual representatives of elected governments "trashed by".


After the events of 1905 (Nicholas II October Manifesto) prior censorship was abolished. Within a short time publicity triumphed. But soon the regional leaders took control of printing. In May 1907 Kiev, Podolia and Volyn Governor-General Vladimir Sukhomlinov issued a "mandatory decree", which has been subjected to strict ban "public announcement or distribute any articles or other communications that excite hostility to the government," as well as "false on the activities of the government or the official establishment of troops or military unit of information in the excitatory population hostile attitude towards them." A criterion for the recognition of false newspaper information was quite simple: it is enough for an official denial on the part of the affected person or authority. As for penalties for violators of the ban, it was reduced to a fine of up to 500 rubles, or arrest up to three months. So it was a voluntary decision to speak out publicly "wrong" thoughts and accept punishment then.

Valuev circular nowadays
Text: “Destroy our language, will take away our soul”

Ukrainians usually appeal to history to prove injustice and oppression of Ukrainian culture and language from Russian government. As a proof are given secret Valuevsky circular, Ems Decree and other restrictions of spreading of Ukrainian language. It is widely deemed in Ukraine that Soviet censorships also was directed against Ukrainian culture. But it is not exactly right. Valuevsky circular was mostly a political decision of Tsarist Russia in response of Polish uprising 1830-1831 and growth of cultural consciousness of Ukrainians (Malorosses or Little/Old Russians in that times). It was aimed to reduce Polish influence on Ukrainians which en masse were considering themselves as part of big Russian nation. Yes, we (Ukrainian) had specific language and accent features differ from Russian (Velikorossian or Great Russian) language. But the differences were minor and the language was not a problem. It was a method to try to split Russian Empire to pieces and that`s why little group of politicians in former Poland, Austria-Hungary decide to cultivate in Malorossia of their own, Ukrainian, consciousness. And all the restrictions from Russian empire were attempts to reduce and prevent of separatist` will of Ukrainians. Complicated scheme. But it`s not the piont of our discourse.


In Soviet Union there was also censorship and it was very strong and totalitarian. The state of Union was based on the strict control for every person and freedom of speech was very abstract concept. All media had to work according to main course of Party and deliver only "right" information. Information indeed was precise but a very large of it was just hushed up. In Soviet Union Ukrainian periodicals were very popular. There was no obstacle for Ukrainian language. Were publishing such journals as "Zhovten", "Vitchizna", "Zhyttia i Revolucia" and many others in Ukrainian.

freedom of speech, democracy, Yuschenko, Ukraine

Legend on the board: "Freedom of speech. We achieved (Mi zdobuly)!" – President Yuschenko is proud to provide democratic basics on Ukraine unlike president Kuchma who was known notorious by contract killing of Georgiy Gongadze, pressure on media and aggressive using of administrative resource. Now phrase "Mi zdobuly" is using as mockery when some "conscious" Ukrainian patriots are proud of questionable "achievements" of Ukrainian government. Such as: -"Freaking Russia, they`re selling us gas for 400 bucks!" – "Zdobuly?". More detailed about Yuschenko`s freedom of speech and another achievements you can read in article about Maidan as it was one of the premise to those actions.


And what we have now? We are independent and should be very happy 🙂 The freedom of speech must be at the top level and everybody should have right to speak out anything they want. But we have obvious problems in that attitude despite all efforts of government and society. The thing is the biggest and more powerful media in this country are hand controlled by oligarchs therefore such term as "freedom" is very abstract. You can see the main owners of "democratic" media below:


Real bosses of Ukrainian public opinion

So, Dmitro Furtash and Serghei Lyovochkin own "Inter", "NTN", "K-1" and other channels, Petro Poroshenko (acting president) is owner of "Channel 5", Victor Pinchuk (Kucma`s son in law) – "New Channel", "STB", "ICTV" and "M1",  Rinat Akhmetov (richest man of Ukraine) – "TRC Ukraine", Igor Kolomoyskiy – "1+1", "2+2", "TET" through the business group "Privat". Also every of them own at least one influential newspaper. This is very democratical because for opinion of West world media are considered as "free" when it is owned by private capital, not by government. Wherein quantity of thruth and quality of material isn`t so important.


Yes, Ukrainians got a big opportunity to speak out anything they want without fear to be punished. But, as you know, there is now practical sense to tell your opinion as nobody will hear it or take it seriously. Because vox populi in this country are forming very scrupulously by oligarchs and everybody who refuses to enlight "global patriotic point of view" will be "not in mainstream". For example, you can see how do our "nationalists" are treating vice-director of the only state channel "Pershiy Natsionalniy" ("National First"), Alexander Panteleymonov, for translation of assembling in Moscow devoted to transfering of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia. It caused tremendous butthurt of Ukrainian "patriots" and they came to educate the manager of channel a little bit. No further investigation and punishment to them followed.



By virtue of self experience and overall information, I can make a conclusion that only way to express one`s feelings and meditations about politics is Internet. But here you should be very careful too, because you can be banned in some social networks for your even peaceful opinion or even become a target for persecution. Yes, you can outspeak anything you want, but others have ability to answer you anything they want and do to you anything. We are much more further than commonplace "freedom of speech". Let us introduce absolutely new, unpredictable, useless and ruthless Ukrainian "Anarchy of speech". Hooray!


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