Ukraine ups media censorship

In recent months, a consolidation of media ownership into the hands of oligarchs connected to president Viktor Yanukovych has decreased media pluralism and curtailed free speech at all levels.

Telekritika, the Ukrainian media watchdog, says the new controls are implemented in anticipation of nationwide elections in 2015. From fear of criticism, the Ukrainian authorities have told the Stop Censorship! civic group to publish no more than two political stories per week on its website, and none about the Party of Regions.

The claims are backed by political consultancy Berta Communications, which says pressure is exercised behind closed doors to increase control over news cycles.

Ukraine has the fourth worst record on free speech in the Eastern Bloc – only Moldova, Georgia and Armenia are ranked lower.