The independent media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy website], warned [press release] Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday against passing a bill [text, in Ukrainian] that would criminalize libel. The bill, which passed on its first reading this week, would establish fines and other punishments, including prison and correctional labor sentences, for spreading false information about another person. RSF warns that this law will subject journalists to judicial harassment and would "threaten the very existence of independent journalism." Ukraine's opposition party has also spoken out against the new law [press release, in Ukrainian] claiming that it would be used to suppress the media.
Ukraine has also sparked other concerns leading up to their elections. Last week, Europe's human rights overseer urged [JURIST report] open and honest elections in Ukraine. In the same statement, he condemned the ongoing imprisonment of former prime minister and opposition party leader Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive] whose final appeal was denied [JURIST report] by Ukraine's highest court last month. During the appeal the government denied allegations that the criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko were a measure initiated by President Viktor Yanukovych to prevent her from participating in the October elections.