Ukraine’s Justice Ministry has renewed the license of the Kyiv newspaper “Pravda Ukrainy,” after its revamped staff formed an independent corporation and jettisoned the former editor-in-chief, Oleksandr Horobets. Publication of the mass-circulation newspaper had been suspended almost one year ago. It was controlled by Pavlo Lazarenko, the former prime minister and current leader of the Hromada Union. Following Lazarenko’s dismissal by President Leonid Kuchma in 1997, the newspaper began to specialize in libelous attacks on the president and the government. It reached a print run of up to 500,000 copies, many of which were being distributed gratis as a result of financing by the Lazarenko clan.
Horobets is currently in pretrial arrest on rape charges. The new editor-in-chief, Olha Pronina, has announced that “Pravda Ukrainy” plans a print run of 40,000, and that the staff is determined to adhere to professional standards. Meanwhile in Lazarenko’s political stronghold, Dnipropetrovsk, the regional printing company has announced that it would no longer print the “Dnipropetrovskaya pravda” newspaper as of this month. “Dnipropetrovskaya Pravda” had attacked Kuchma and the government frequently during the course of last year, and became the object of libel proceedings by the state prosecutor (UNIAN, January 5; Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), January 6). Lazarenko is currently under investigation in Ukraine and Switzerland on corruption charges (see the Monitor, December 4, 7, 14, 23). –VS
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