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Ukrainian Journalists Denied Access To Presidential Residence

President Victor Yanukovych
President Victor Yanukovych
KYIV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused today to allow journalists inside his official residence despite a promise one year ago to do so, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Today is Journalists' Day in Ukraine. On June 6, 2010, Yanukovych said that in exactly one year he would allow journalists inside his residence to see how he and his family live.

Last week, however, journalists were informed that they would not be allowed inside the presidential residence. On June 4, a court in Kyiv ruled that no mass gathering can be held in front of the building.

Some 60 journalists nonetheless defied that ban and gathered near the presidential residence today to protest Yanukovych's failure to make good on his pledge of one year ago.

Yanukovych left his residence by car today without acknowledging the gathered journalists, RFE/RL reports.

Presidential press secretary Darka Chepak then came to hand out roses and offer a large cake inscribed "Congratulations On Journalists' Day!" to the journalists, who refused to accept either.

When journalists asked Chepak why Yanukovych ignored them, Chepak said he "had left for work" and has "several meetings scheduled today with leaders of major media outlets."

The journalists then asked Chepak why Yanukovych had not allowed them inside the residence, despite his promise last year to do so. Chepak advised them to "ask him yourselves at his press conference that will be held either at the end of June or at the beginning of July."

Read more in Ukrainian here