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U.S. Condemns Ukraine's Silencing Of Independent Radio Station

Washington, 4 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. government has criticized the silencing of RFE/RL and other international broadcasting on one of the last independent radio stations in Ukraine, calling it an assault on democracy.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher spoke to reporters in Washington today about Ukraine's decision to shut down Radio Kontynent, which carried international broadcasts.

"We view with great concern recent attempts by Ukrainian authorities to limit public access to independent news and information. The shutdown yesterday of Radio Kontynent and the silencing of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, VOA [Voice of America] and other international broadcasters is an assault on democracy. It is very serious in an election year in Ukraine, when the need for news from many sources is at its greatest."

Ukrainian police entered the Kyiv building of Radio Kontynent yesterday and, while the station was on the air, confiscated its transmitter, shutting down its broadcasts.

Radio Kontynent was often critical of the government of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. It broadcast Ukrainian language programs by the BBC, the Voice of America, Germany's Deutsche Welle and, since last week, Radio Liberty.

Ukrainian authorities cited the radio's license expiration for shutting it down.

See also: RFE/RL Off FM In Kyiv, Cities Across Ukraine
RFE/RL Affiliate Raided, Transmitters Confiscated