Saturday, January 07, 2012

Is Ukraine democratic?

KyivPost, Ukraine's premier online English news source, recently published a op-ed piece by Leigh Turner, UK Ambassador to Ukraine, posing the question 'Is Ukraine democratic?'.  The article attracted considerable discussion and debate, including questions related to the quality and integrity of the US based think tank 'Freedom House'.

The vibrant discussion became so hot that it gave cause for KyivPost to censor the debate and remove all comments, even though the comments were relatively tame and in order.  There was no justification or merit in having these comments removed.

It is unclear if Kyivpost's decision was taken following representations by the author Leigh Turner or by the Editorial staff acting under direction of third parties.

This is not the first time Kyivpost has acted in such a censorial role denying public debate and discussion on political topics.  It is certainly not the first time Kyivpost have removed comments on Mr Tuner's Op-ed.

It does raise the question 'how free is Ukraine's media?' And should a media outlet that espouses western democratic values and campaigns for the rights of 'Free Speech' and a Media rights unilaterally, without explanation, remove public comments and discussion on such a important issue.

The withdrawal of public comments has brought KyivPost and UK's Ambassador into disrepute. KyivPost owes its readership an explanation and justification for its actions, if only to prove that it is a pro democratic free speech media outlet.