U.S.-owned magazine found guilty of defamation in Ukraine

Associated Press, Aug. 5, 2003
http://www.nola.com/
By TIM VICKERY, The Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian court has found the American publisher of a popular news magazine guilty of defamation after the weekly called a local magazine anti-Semitic for publishing allegedly racist articles and honoring former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Kiev’s Pechersk District Court ordered Korrespondent magazine and its publisher Jed Sunden to pay 100,000 hryvnya (US$18,900) for defaming the honor and business reputation of the Interregional Academy for Personnel Management and the editor of its monthly journal Personnel, Sunden told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The private academy awarded American white supremacist David Duke with an honorary doctorate degree last year and has published his work in Personnel. Critics have also called articles in the magazine racist and anti-Semitic.

Sunden claimed vowed to appeal the ruling, calling it “a poor legal decision.”

“You stand hand in hand with in photographs with the head of the Ku Klux Klan and give him an honorary degree … I feel comfortable labeling that as anti-Semitic,” he added.

Personnel editor Ihor Slissarenko could not be reached for comment. In an December article published in Sunden’s weekly English language paper, the Kyiv Post, he denied being an anti-Semite. That article and a pair of editorials printed in the Post were not subjects of the defamation suit.

Slissarenko and the management academy came under fire early last year when the Stolichniye Novosti paper, owned by Vadym Rabinovich, president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, ran several articles accusing them of anti-Semitism.

Several prominent Ukrainian lawmakers — including the former Soviet republic’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk, later renounced their seats on the academy’s board.

In March, popular politician Viktor Yushchenko severed ties with the academy and its journal, saying its “inconsiderate editorial policy” placed it at the center of a scandal.

When the academy and Slissarenko sued Rabinovich and Stolichniye Novosti for defamation, the same court awarded them and other litigants over 2 million hryvnya (US$380,000) in damages.

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