Luhansk regional court bans newspaper “Our Choice” until end of elections


The court’s reasons seem disturbingly trivial and the “repeat” infringement would seem to have occurred because the respondents had not been informed of previous rulings.

The Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] reports that for the first time ever a Luhansk regional court has banned the issue of a printed media publication in connection with electoral legislation. It adds that the reason for the ruling was trivial and journalists publishing the newspaper were not given the opportunity to prevent the ban.

On 3 October Judge Antonenko from the Leninsky Court in Luhansk  banned issue of the newspaper Nash Vybor [Our Choice] until the end of the elections on the grounds of a repeat infringement of Article 67 of the Law on the Parliamentary Elections.  The ruling states that in issue no. 18 of the newspaper from 16 September the results of a public opinion survey were published regarding the ratings of different political parties in No. 113 electoral district.  

The court acknowledged that the newspaper had, as required, indicated the area in which the study was carried out; the number of respondents; the methodology; the exact wording of the questions.  It had not, according to the court, given the exact name of the organization.  The newspaper had written “the Sociolab agency” and the court considered that it should have said “the civic organization Sociolab” and that it should have said who ordered the survey.  The respondent asserted that nobody had “ordered” the survey, that Sociolab had carried it out at their own initiative.

This was deemed by the court to be a repeat offence – this enabling the publication to be banned (translator) – since there had, apparently, been previous rulings by this same court on 9 September and 12 September.  The court did not take into consideration the statement from the respondent that it had not been informed of the previous rulings, and that had it been, it would have rectified the reports as required.

Lawyers for the Luhansk Regional Branch of the CVU consider that once this ruling has gone through the appeal stage in a domestic court, there would be grounds for appealing it at the European Court of Human Rights. 

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