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Ukrainian Opposition See Biased Media Since Presidential Election


KYIV -- Ukrainian opposition figures are urging a popular talk show to invite opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as a guest, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

A letter signed by 11 Ukrainian political leaders was sent to the Inter television station on April 14. It accuses Yevgeny Kiselov, the moderator of the TV show "Big Politics," of ignoring Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who finished second in February's presidential election.

"Tymoshenko has not been invited to the show since [the election] in which she gained 45 percent of the vote," the letter states.

Kiselov told RFE/RL that he is away from Kyiv and not familiar with the details of the opposition's criticism. The next "Big Politics" will be broadcast on April 16.

Earlier this week, Tymoshenko accused the governing Party of Regions of curbing press freedom in the country. The government rejected the allegation.

Party of Regions member Olena Bondarenko, who is on the parliament's press freedom committee, told RFE/RL that it is up to Kiselov to decide who he wants on his show.

"What [important] reason does Mrs. Tymoshenko have to appear on that program?" Bondarenko asked. "Who is she now? She is not even the prime minister or the leader of the shadow government." She said it would be more interesting to see Serhiy Sobolev, the shadow prime minister, on "Big Politics."

Bondarenko added that in her view the opposition's demands on Inter should be considered as pressure on the TV channel.

Our Ukraine deputy Yuri Stets, who is also on the press freedom committee, told RFE/RL he increasingly sees more "censored" interviews on Ukrainian TV in which politicians answer questions that they have been given in advance.

Ukrainian media analyst Otar Dovzhenko told RFE/RL there are legitimate reasons to believe that the new government and media owners in Ukraine have agreed to coordinate their information policy. He said that under such circumstances journalists are often forced into self censorship and thereby distort reality.

The ownership structure of Inter, which is the most popular TV channel in Ukraine, is not entirely clear.

Some media experts told RFE/RL the editorial policy of the channel is influenced by Valery Khoroshkovsky, one of Inter's owners and currently the head of the country's security service.

Khoroshkovsky had previously worked in Tymoshenko's government but has since become one of her harshest critics. In 2009 he claimed that Tymoshenko was herself interested in buying Inter.
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