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U.S. Increases Support for Media, Press Freedom in Ukraine

U.S. Increases Support for Media, Press Freedom in Ukraine

Washington, 5 May 2014 - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an additional $1.25 million to the U-MEDIA program in Ukraine, a project of Internews and its Ukrainian partner organizations aimed at supporting Ukrainian media outlets as they prepare for the Ukrainian presidential election on May 25.

Members of the media in Ukraine have faced serious challenges and dangers over the past several months, USAID said in announcing the grant on its website May 2. More than 500 journalists have been harassed, beaten or abducted since November 2013, and one journalist was killed. Media outlets have been attacked and news-gathering equipment has been seized or destroyed, USAID said.

“USAID supports a strong and independent media in Ukraine,” said Paige Alexander, USAID assistant administrator for the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia. “This additional funding will help to protect vulnerable journalists while also advancing press freedoms and democratic governance in Ukraine.”

USAID supports respect for universal values around the world as central to its mission to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. The agency’s work is committed to increasing awareness, creating strong legal foundations for independent media and civil society, improving government responsiveness to constituents and supporting platforms for free and open communications.

USAID said these new funds will support a number of activities:

• Webinars on media rights and responsibilities will be conducted in preparation for the presidential and local election campaigns, and regional training seminars will be conducted on journalistic legal and professional standards during an election. Voter education public service announcements will be produced and distributed to media outlets across Ukraine.

• Joint public forums and town hall discussions will cover constitutional reform in the context of the presidential election, political processes between the expected rounds one and two of the election, analysis of candidate platforms, local election procedures, Ukrainian unity and implications of European Union integration.

• Assistance will be provided to 1st Ukrainian Channel and a local foundation to produce and broadcast debates between the presidential candidates, as well as post-debate webcasts.

• Cross-regional exchanges will link 45 journalists, editors and bloggers to increase information available to citizens about political reforms, economic and social issues, and the May 25 presidential elections. Small grants for content production will be provided to cover news events, and the creation of regional news and information Web portals and live webcasts.

• Physical and digital security training will be provided for journalists, including best practices for safe Internet and mobile communications use, as well as how to avoid or disengage from dangerous situations when covering civil unrest.

USAID said it is supporting the government of Ukraine as it implements constitutional and electoral reforms that fulfill its stated goal of becoming a fully inclusive and economically stable democracy. The U.S. government has invested $11.4 million to support a transparent and democratic election process in Ukraine. Programs support improvements to the electoral framework; voter education and civic participation; transparent and effective election administration; open and responsive political competition; effective oversight of election processes; election security and redress of infractions; and a diverse, balanced and policy-focused media environment.

ENDS

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