The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine proposes new innovation - to screen off the press box from MPs. Speaker Volodymyr Rybak promises to realize the idea. "I will give an order and we will fence the box with glass," he said.

Formal reasons include morning distribution of leaflets. "We have leaflets with Tymosheko's image falling on MPs' heads, and then deputies have to walk on the face of respectful opposition member," Party of Regions deputy Oleksandr Stoyan commented.

It is not the first time when deputies demand to fence the press box. Several months ago, a piece of a photo camera fell on the head of Oleksandr Stoyan, and the news got about that a glass window may appear between MPs and journalists.

ForUm has asked experts and deputies how popular such practice is in the world and whether it infringes on the freedom of speech.

Oleksandr Stoyan, MP from the Party of Regions:

- I proposed this initiative two months ago, when a camera cover fell on the head of my colleague. In other parliaments there are special press centers, equipped with tables, monitors, broadcasting. But Ukrainian journalists literally hang out over us. I respect journalist, but MPs also should be respected. It is not very comfortable to work under continuous surveillance of dozens of cameras, especially when something falls on your head. If we put a glass, both journalists and deputies will be protected from any surprises. However, generally speaking, I stand for equipping a modern press center.

Oleksandr Holub, MP from the Communist Party:

- I hope no fences or windows will be installed in the press box. I admit that journalists hanging out over our heads with heavy equipment is not the safest working environment, but the problem must be settled through a mutual agreement, and not by adopting a special norm or installing fences.

Tetyana Bakhteyeva, MP from the Party of Regions:

- Such practice is common in many civilized countries, and in some parliaments journalists do not have any access to the working place of deputies. 

I believe the press box must be fence to prevent any incidents like falling of equipment or a journalist himself out of the box. And this glass fence in no way will obstruct the work either of journalists or deputies.

Vitaly Klichko, leader of the "UDAR" faction:

- I heard the speaker had already ordered to install a glass window, but we stand against such decision. We believe that the work of MPs must transparent, and if they are afraid for their heads we can give them helmets or switch places. 

Volodymyr Makeyenko, MP from the Party of Regions, head of the VR regulations committee:

- This decision must be approved by the regulations committee first, though I doubt any deputy will openly vote for it, especially in presence of two thousand journalists. But what we can do is to give a briefing session for cameramen. 

Mykola Tomenko, MP from "Motherland":

- We are ready to switch places with MPs of the majority. We are not afraid of any objects falling on our heads from the press box.

Roman Golovenko, lawyer, manager of legal project of the Institute of mass media:

- No doubt that installation of a window or fence is a limitation of transparency of the parliament. It is difficult to cover the whole session hall from the press box, thus journalists have to lean over the rails. To protect deputies from falling objects we can hang a special net like in the theatre or simply to enlarge the press box for journalists to see all corners of the session hall.

Ukrainian legislation is not so detailed to regulate the installation of a window glass in the press box, but if politicians pretend to be fair and square, they should not obstruct the work of journalists.

Volodymyr Lytvyn, ex-speaker of the parliament:

- I think this statement should not be taken seriously, it is just an outburst of emotions. I doubt MPs will vote for installation of a window glass in the press box, as nobody wants to conflict with journalists. Moreover, journalists are responsible people and understand the consequences. They do not come aswoon in the parliament.

Volodymyr Oliynyk, MP from the Party of Regions:

- We have to come to a certain agreement, because it is not very comfortable to see a hanging person and guess whether he falls on you this time or not. Safety rules must be observed. And it would be nice to agree not to install any glass but to behave like it is there. It would be the best manifestation of democracy.

Ihor Shvaika, MP from the "Freedom" union:

- To carry out any form of reconstruction MPs must first agree with the department for protection of cultural heritage, as the building of the parliament is a sample of architecture. However, if they install a fence, we will fight against it.

Tetyana Montyan, lawyer:

- The reason is obvious - MPs do not want to be seen reading a porno magazine or sleeping on the working place. MPs order to install a non-reflective glass so journalists cannot shoot some dirt on them. No doubt it will complicate the work of the press, but so it goes. 

Oleh Nalyvaiko, head of the National union of journalists of Ukraine:

- I am definitely against the initiative to screen off the press. First of all, it is a manifestation of disrespect to the profession of journalists. I've been in many parliaments, but I've never seen any fences or glass screens. First they install a window glass, then bars, and then what - a wall? I believe lawyers must give their opinions on legality of such initiatives.  

Volodymyr Vecherko, MP from the Party of Regions:

- It is a regular proposition, and there is nothing wrong with it. In the European parliament - both in Strasburg and Brussels - everything is glassed and no buzz.


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