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Interpreter Side-Stepped Ethics To Get Truth To Deaf Viewers
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 2, 2004

KIEV, UKRAINE--Deaf television viewers may have been the first to learn that the government's official news regarding Ukraine's presidential election was being questioned by members of the media, the New York Times reported.

During a news broadcast last Thursday morning, the anchor of the government's state-run UT-1 television station was informing viewers that Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich had won the November 21 election handily over challenger Viktor A. Yushchenko.

Sign language interpreter Natalia Dimitruk, who was seen in a small inset on the screen, was signing something entirely different to viewers.

"The results announced by the Central Electoral Commission are rigged," Dimitruk signed. "Do not believe them."

Dimitruk went on to declare that Yushchenko was Ukraine's new president.

"I am very disappointed by the fact that I had to interpret lies," she continued. "I will not do it any more. I do not know if you will see me again."

Later that day, more than 200 journalists at UT-1 went on strike. Dimitruk came out and joined them. They said they would no longer allow themselves to be forced to report what they knew to be incorrect or biased information favoring the government.

Dimitruk later said she agonized over her decision to go against what the anchor was reporting. She acknowledged that her act of rebellion violated her own ethics as a sign language interpreter. Even though she realized that she is a trusted source of information for tens of thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing Ukrainians, she felt compelled to present her own opinion of what was going on.

"The deaf, they do not have a choice of what they watch," Dimitruk said.

Since the election results were announced, thousands of Ukrainians have staged massive protests in the streets demanding a new election, calling the results a fraud.

Mediators from the European Union and other countries are offering to helping the government and opposition officials stage a re-election or negotiate a solution that will work for both sides.


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