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Ukraine's Ruling Party Puts Defamation Law On Hold

President Viktor Yanukovych
President Viktor Yanukovych
Ukraine's ruling party has put plans to reinstate defamation as a crime punishable by jail on hold after criticism by the opposition and independent media.

A draft law that would have allowed up to five years in jail for offenders was rushed through its first reading in parliament last week by the ruling Party of Regions.

Ukraine's opposition and independent media denounced the move as another crackdown on freedom of speech in the runup to parliamentary elections on October 28.

President Viktor Yanukovych on September 25 also criticized the timing of the proposal, calling the move an error.

The United States and other Western governments have criticized Yanukovych for backsliding on democracy and a trend toward greater authoritarianism since he came to power in February 2010.

Based on reporting by UNIAN and Reuters

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