Presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych during last year's campaign (RFE/RL)
17 November 2005 -- Ukraine's parliament today overwhelmingly approved a bill prohibiting state authorities from carrying out inspections of media groups during the upcoming parliamentary election campaign.
Parliament also canceled part of a law that had barred the media from editorializing about political forces during the campaign and had empowered the Central Election Commission to close down any media outlet found in violation. Under the adopted changes, the ground rules were loosened and only a court was given the right to shut down media violators.
The original law was adopted in response to last year's bitter presidential campaign, during which losing candidate Viktor Yanukovych, backed by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, used state media to discredit his opponent, current President Viktor Yushchenko. Independent media faced stiff government pressure during that campaign.