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Ukraine Forbes magazine staff resign in censorship protest


Thirteen journalists of the Ukrainian edition of Forbes magazine have resigned in protest against alleged censorship by the new owner, who is considered close to President Viktor Yanukovych, one of the reporters said Thursday.

"We were made to understand that there will be a list of topics about which we can not write," journalist Olexander Ruban told AFP. "All this looks like censorship," he added.

The reporters -- accounting for half the newsroom staff -- said the final straw was the refusal by editor-in-chief Mykhailo Kotov to publish material about advisors to first Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Sergiy Arbuzov.

Arbuzov has been named by observers as a part of the influential financial and political clan led by Yanukovych and is seen as one of the most powerful figures in government.

The Ukrainian version of Forbes operates under a licence from the main US company Forbes Inc.

"The efforts to change the editorial policy is why most of the staff are leaving," the 13 journalists said in a joint statement.

Initial concerns of possible censorship at the Ukrainian version of Forbes were voiced after it was purchased in June by fast-rising businessman Sergiy Kurchenko, 28.

Some commentators claim his fast and successful career has been made possible with support from the president's entourage.

But on Thursday Kotov denied the accusations of censorship. "I rejected some of the topics as they were too politicised," he said in an interview to the Ukrainian daily Kommersant Ukraine.

Analysts have linked the purchasing by Kurchenko of not only Forbes Ukraine, but also a number of other influential Ukrainian papers, with a bid to take over control the mainstream media ahead of the presidential polls in 2015, when Yanukovych hopes to stay in power.