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Ukraine11 August 2006

Persecuted journalist fears for her life

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a months-long campaign of legal and personal harassment of weekly newspaper editor Margarita Zakora and her family and called on the authorities to stop it immediately.

“The cynical nature of these attacks is matched by her courage,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We demand that the legal action against her be dropped and that she and her family be given official protection. It is disgraceful that despite evidence, police refuse to investigate the attacks on her.”

Zakora, who edits Dzerzhynets, published in Dniprodzerzhynsk, has been targeted since the paper first appeared in January and gained popularity for denouncing corrupt judges, police and local members of parliament. Nineteen almost identical legal complaints have been laid against her by local figures.

Shots were fired at her apartment after criticism of businessman Aleksander Spector appeared in the paper on 14 June. Zakora then wrote another article about him a week later and he responded by distributing pornographic leaflets about her and her 20-year-old daughter and giving their phone numbers.

The persecution has badly affected Zakora’s health and she fears for her life and that of family members, but refuses to give in and vows to continue exposing corruption. She has asked police and courts to act but despite the proof of who is hounding her, they have done nothing to protect her.

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