Washington: The United States has announced a USD 1.2 million aid package to help support Ukrainian news outlets ahead of presidential elections later this month.
"Members of the media in Ukraine have faced serious challenges and dangers over the past several months," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said yesterday.
She charged that more than 500 journalists have been harassed, beaten or abducted since November, and one reportedly has been killed.
Announced on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the funding from the US Agency for International Development "will help to protect vulnerable journalists while also advancing press freedoms and domestic governance in Ukraine," Harf said.
The May 25 presidential elections are seen as crucial for installing a new leadership in Kiev to replace the interim government brought in after pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych fled in February in face of mounting pro-democracy protests.
The atmosphere has also grown increasingly difficult for Western journalists, who have been subjected to "brutal violence, kidnappings and intimidation," according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.