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Members of Parliament risk their lives each plenary day. Leastwise, some of them are sure of that, and has already asked the Parliament’s speaker Volodymyr Rybak rescue them from impending dangers in the face of reporters and photographers working in the press box on the balcony of the session hall. ForUm finds out how serious are the risks to MPs.
They have never liked being observed in the session hall: the voting record is counted, messages are read, other personal and corporate secrets are revealed. However, no one tried to fight that officially before the plenary meeting on September 19 this year. Then, during a discussion of one of the bills, MP from the Party of Regions Oleksandr Stoyan (formerly one of the country's trade union leaders) asked the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada to guarantee the safety measures "Look up - big cameras are hanging over us. Recently, the fallen header has nearly injured my colleague Volodymyr Vecherko ... I ask to protect MPs, setting screens at the top, and give us an opportunity to work. These are safety measures".
Parliamentary reporters tried to ask Stoyan, when a shields will be put to protect MPs from the media, but he was rescued from the "confrontation" by colleagues. The Party of Regions faction member Vladyslav Lukyanov tried to laugh it off: "We protect journalists! We don’t want someone to jump from below and bite media workers". Stoyan hastily added: "We protect journalists. So they do not fall out... "
Leader of Party of Regions faction Oleksandr Yefremov had to account for initiative of the fellow members before the media. After his briefing, it became clear that MPs try to protect journalists not only from bites and downs, but also from the prison term. "I do not want any of you (journalists - Ed.) to be prosecuted. Every day MPs tell me that they fear of your camera to fall down on their heads, so I would ask you, colleagues, to be more respectful to the people whom you are directly working with, and not to put their lives at risk," he said. However, Yefremov assured that journalists won’t be taken away from their workplace: "Everything is all right, there can be no change."
At first glance, the incident was over. We talked, digested, and now we are going to get along. However, the next day, the Party of Regions members again asked Rybak to protect them not only from the objects falling from the balcony, but ... from surveillance as well. Yaroslav Sukhyi said that there were normal conditions in previous convocations, no one was eavesdropping, overseeing, there were no cameras and lenses put on balconies... He asked the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada: "Either we will resume normal human arrangements, or the Secretariat will respond to the work of press photographers, or we should install some protective equipment, as in all world countries."
It would seem that if the Party of Regions decided to clean up the work of the press, the opposition gets all the cards: you can protect the media and to please the electorate. So, the statements "against" flowed. Chairman of the Committee for freedom of expression and information, member of the Batkivshchyna faction Mykola Tomenko through the press service advised on how to avoid "surveillance": to work on bills, rather than to send messages to mistresses, or choose cars or other accessories of rich life on the Internet.
However, no faction has shown willingness to change seats with the majority. No one officially spoke in the session hall. However, the risk that the Parliament’s secretariat will have to decide the issue of MPs’ safety, remained. In addition, this will be extra cost from the budget: the glass is expensive, and the balcony for journalists is large. It is worth considering how to save.
The first low-cost version from the journalists is as follows:
A) Heads of MPs should be protected with helmets. Besides safety, that will ne a kind of uniform, since the PR and their neighbors in the hall Communists still go to work in suits, while everyone else are in the "corporate" dress - red sweaters, embroidered shirts or T-shirts with the image of the leader.
B) Every seat should be covered by a big umbrella, so that a member could escape the "surveillance" in case he needs to send SMS, view pictures, or have a snack.
The second low-cost option is to set powerful spotlight in the session hall, thereby being protected by the power of light.
If, however, the deputies decided to protect themselves by building SOMETHING on the journalists’ balcony, here the old and proven way named "fidget" could help. This barbed wire is used as security fencing at sensitive sites and areas, industrial plants, objects of national importance by itself or in combination with other perimeter security systems. According to its producers, "fidget" is used to deter and discourage. Even the children know it, and will not creep to the garden with such a wire on the fence.
Of course, MPs may call it "inappropriate jeering". However, it is in every sense impractical to fence MPs off from the mass media, as there have been no cases of falling heavy objects or people from the press balcony for more than two decades of the Parliament’s work.
As MP of several convocations Taras Chornovil told ForUm, leaflets demanding to find Gongadze were thrown down from press box once. Another case is when the element of the camera lens, weighing twenty grams, fell on the Party of Regions member Volodymyr Vecherko, who then testified that no damage was inflicted to him.
"If they're so timid, why do they go to the Parliament? Colleagues may beat you up in the session hall. The real danger is not under the balcony, but near the rostrum. All these fears are twofold. First, they do not want photos showing what they are doing during work hours. Second, they can already be afraid that not journalists, but some of the colleagues will go upstairs and throw something down," he said. Chornovil also suggested fencing the guest balcony. And in fact benefit from the experience, for example, of Australia, where people from the street may drop in the guest room and see what their elected representatives are doing.
Indeed, no one remembers a journalist injuring MP. While, for example, egg-smoke battle of April 27, 2010 or night Parliament’s unblocking in December 2010, with the injured and the hospitalized, are still remembered. Do not forget also a "dispute" on May 18, 2011, when MP Oleg Lyashko and first vice-speaker Adam Martynyuk fought in the session hall. Then there were other smaller brawls, during which deputies pushed each other, shouted and poured water. There is no doubt, unrest in the audience will repeat.
But! MPs will surely thrash each other at half strength under surveillance of journalists.