For official use only – how information is dosed in Transcarpathia

Transcarpathian police prefer to remain silent about "inconvenient" incidents

Despite the announced six months ago openness and transparency of its activities, our regional police for some reason often forgets about it. Naturally, the public want to know what crimes occur in the region, whether criminals are arrested and prosecuted, and what the criminal situation is in general. After all, disturbing reports from the east of the state unwittingly become a cause of anxiety among countrymen who worry about their safety and the safety of their families. In addition, people want to know whether the sacrifices, that were made a year ago for the sake of positive changes and the destruction of the old system in public institutions, were not in vain.  So it is equally natural that crime news on newspaper front pages, TV news or Internet publications attract increased attention. But what can an inquisitive reader or viewer learn from these reports? How the court punished a wayward father for failing to pay child support, various accidents, what drug addicts resort to to get another dose of the drug or police meetings. At least this is the kind of information offered by the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Office in Transcarpathian region. Indeed, our region has always been one of the most untroubled ones in terms of criminogenic situation. But is everything really so good?

The spoof story on the incident at the traffic police post in Nyzhni Vorota

Last week, the media were actively discussing the incident, which happened in Nyzhni Vorota in Volovets district. There, activists of the "Road control" tried to record unlawful actions of the district traffic police officers, who were on duty at the post. "Unauthorized" recording for some reason provoked quite a panic among the man in uniform. In the official statement published on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Office, the police tried to present this situation with biased approach, saying that the activists of the "RC" were provocateurs. But a lot of Transcarpathian mass media people perceived this information as another "spoof story" because lately they have not been trusting reports of the MIA Office PR Service, especially its manager Oleg Podebriy.  

By the way, O.Podebriy likes to give free comments on his page on "Facebook" instead of preparing, as he should, press releases to journalists so that they themselves be able to find out what was happening, to make their own conclusions and to give a full assessment of the situation.

The staff of the local paper "Vidomosti Militsiyi" two weeks ago sent an official letter to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Office Serhiy Sharanych about the fact that it had been prohibited to provide information to journalists of this publication. Officers of city and district police units in charge of public and media relations explained (though, for fear of losing their jobs, they asked not to name names) that they had been suffering a fierce pressure from the management of the MIA Office PR Service, ie O.Podebriy.  Instead, Podebriy himself began posting malicious comments, saying that the "Vidomosti Militsiyi" is a private entity and must receive information as everyone else.  And we do not argue with that. But that is not the point. We do not need any classified or confidential information. We are talking about common press releases, which would contain information not just about separate cases of violations of applicable law, crimes and accidents, but the full picture of high-profile crimes in the region. Unfortunately, we do not have that.  Moreover, press releases must contain the latest information about the past 24 hours. Their preparation is a regular duty of the staff of the MIA Office PR Service.

On hushed-up accidents and delayed information

Continuing to elaborate upon the previous topic, we would like to note that on the official website of the Transcarpathian police, which the spokesman of the chief of the regional police so persistently refers journalists to, not a word is mentioned about the two car accidents that have occurred in the region recently. Perhaps, because police employees were involved in both of them. In one of them, a police officer in his car "Volkswagen" in Svalyava ran over a local pensioner. The woman died from her injuries at the scene of the accident. The second accident occurred in Uzhgorod. The party at fault was also a police officer. The police officer was going to enter on duty (!) Fortunately, no one was hurt in this accident, although the vehicle that he hit – "Toyota Camry" – suffered significant damage. Since we witnessed this accident, we saw traffic police officers drafting a report against the culprit that clearly stated, quote: "The driver exhibits signs of intoxication." It is still unknown whether medical examination confirmed this and whether the offender has ever been punished for his action. Because the fact of the accident was simply hushed up. 

Often, the information at the site of the MIA Office appears late. For example, the publication about the murder that occured in Uzhgorod in early January. It was not released until the evening of the next day. As for the bloody events in the village of Hecha in Beregovo district, a brief comment of the chief of the regional police Serhiy Sharanych was released only four days later in the publication about the meeting with activists and the media.

Although, actually this report does not contain any useful information about the incident. Quote: "As to the recent brawl at the festival in the village of Hecha in Beregovo district, this incident had purely personal motives. All persons involved in this act of hooliganism will soon be "invited" to the police department to testify." And that’s it, period. Meanwhile, the entire region is buzzing about the massacre in Hecha.

Where is the police efficiency?  In this regard, I want to remind a Russian saying: "A spoon is dear when lunch time is near". And that the public want to know more, because in this case both knifing and shooting was involved. Several people were hospitalized. These details for some reason were ommitted in the comment.

Today, they blocked the access to information for the regional newspaper "Vidomosti Militsiys", tomorrow they will start exerting pressure on other "objectionable" publications, and after that… Perhaps they will even begin to destroy people physically, as it has happened in the history of Ukrainian journalism? 

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