Letters - Ukraine and the NUJ

Perhaps John Pilger (13 June) could tell me how exactly the NUJ has surrendered its independence? When we criticise the government's anti-trade union laws, maybe? Or its decision to go to war in Iraq? Or its failure to investigate the killing of journalists in Iraq?

While he's investigating, perhaps I can help him with one of his questions: How independent is the union for journalists in Ukraine? As one who has been made to feel very welcome by the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine when I ran seminars for its members, I can assure him I was given no script to read by any government - mine or his.

Tim Lezard
President, National Union of Journalists
London WC1

The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) has received no money from the British government, and neither has the NUJ. The British embassy in Kiev does fund a press freedom non-governmental organisation (Charter 4) to run a trade-union training programme for IMTUU members, and a group of NUJ members has been out to Ukraine to help with the courses.

IMTUU depends on funding from the International Federation of Journalists and from individual trade unions through solidarity campaigns that predate any embassy-funded projects.

While protesting against censorship, the Ukrainian union adopted a neutral stance during the "orange revolution". IMTUU maintains a critical attitude to the new government, on its failure to progress with public service broadcasting and its flirtation with censorship.

Chris Morley
Vice-president, NUJ
(and others)

This article first appeared in the 20 June 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Latin America rises up