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Ukrainian journalists protest against 'chilling' defamation bill

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Ukrainian journalists protest against 'chilling' defamation bill
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Ukrainian journalists on Monday protested outside the country’s parliament in Kiev against a new draft law that they say will restrict media freedom.

If passed, journalists could be fined, banned from the profession, or even jailed for five years if found guilty of defamation.

Euronews’s correspondent Angelina Kariakina explains MPs had been set to vote tomorrow.

“Both the ruling party and the opposition say they will back the speaker’s move to scrap the bill,” she said.
“But members of Ukraine’s media doubt whether the promise will be kept. They plan to rally again tomorrow (Tuesday).”

The journalists say the legislation effectively censors free speech.

They argue it will discourage media organisations from investigating allegations of corruption and other crimes.

Serhhiy Leschenko, a newspaper journalist with Ukrayinska Pravada, said: “The only way to stop this becoming law is to pile pressure on the government, here in Ukraine and internationally.”

Watchdogs such as Reporters without Borders and Article 19 have condemned the proposed legislation, which was drafted by an MP from President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions.