Monday, November 29, 2004

Signs of Thunder, Signs of Hope 

This woman is a patriot, a heroine who loves her country and the truth. And she is braver than I would be if I lived to be a thousand.

(via NYT)
Last Thursday morning, Natalia Dimitruk, an interpreter for the deaf on the Ukraine's official state UT-1 television, disregarded the anchor's report on Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich's "victory" and, in her small inset on the screen, began to sign something else altogether.

"The results announced by the Central Electoral Commission are rigged," she said in the sign language used in the former Soviet states. "Do not believe them."

She went on to declare that Viktor A. Yushchenko, the opposition leader, was the country's new president. "I am very disappointed by the fact that I had to interpret lies," she went on. "I will not do it any more. I do not know if you will see me again."

Ms. Dimitruk's act of defiance, which she described in an interview on Sunday as an agonized one, became part of a growing revolt by a source of [President Leonid D.] Kuchma's political power as important as any other: state television.

In Ukraine, as in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, state ownership or control over the media, especially television, exerts immense control over political debate, shoring up public attitudes not only about the state, but also about the opposition. The state's manipulation of coverage was among the reasons that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called the Nov. 21 vote fundamentally unfair.
More than 200 journalists at UT-1 went on strike Thursday to demand the right to present an objective account of the extraordinary events that have unfolded since the vote, forcing the channel to broadcast a feed from another network before capitulating. Ms. Dimitruk walked out of the studio and joined them, protesting coverage that was skewed almost entirely on behalf of Mr. Yanukovich's campaign before and after the runoff election.
Any of this sound at all familiar? Especially that part about "control over the media" and "public attitudes"?

Remember Natalia Dimitruk's name. Cite it every time you write some representative of the sniveling excuse for a media we have in this country, who whine that they dare not ask impolite questions or tell the truths they know "because they might deny us access, and then we couldn't do our jobs boo hoo, boo hoo."

You ain't doing your jobs NOW, you blow-dried, sparkle-toothed, award-festooned, party-going, co-opted bunch of hacks!

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