Crimea: pressure on journalists (UPDATED)

23:57 15.03.2014 IMI

The Institute of Mass Information follows the events that are taking place in Crimea due to Russia's growing military presence since the end of February.

On February 22, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine removed the president Victor Yanukovych from office. The Office of Prosecutor General of Ukraine declared him wanted for aggravated mass murder (Criminal Code Article 115, part 1 (murder).

At the end of February, Russia started to increase its military presence in Crimea, armed men took over the airports of Sevastopol and Simferopol, and Kerch ferry was blocked.

On the eve of February 27, armed groups of unidentified men captured the buildings of the Parliament and of the Crimean government. They changed the flags on the buildings from Ukrainian to Russian. 

On March 1, the Russian Council of Federation supported the President Vladimir Putin's submission and gave its consent to establish the Russian military presence in the territory of Crimea. The formal ground for this was Yanukovich's request for assistance and the Russian  leadership denying legitimacy to the new authorities in Ukraine.

During these days, the Institute of Mass Information registered 63 incidents, among which obstruction to journalist activities, DDoS attacks against local websites, intimidation of operators of local channels by armed and masked men; also, local journalists were prevented from timely passing the information about the situation on the peninsula, journalists were attacked and beaten, their equipment was taken away from them.

Armed men would not let the journalists that arrived from Kyiv and other regions to cover the situation to the territory of Crimea. They stopped their cars and, under the threat of using their firearms demanded they go back.

 

1. On February 13, representatives of media outlets were not allowed in the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea не пустили, despite their IDs proving their standing accreditation with the Parliament. They were told to provide additional passes.

2. On February 27, a sound bomb exploded in the building of the Parliament of Crimea, which in the morning was captured by unidentified armed men, when the  journalists of Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and other world media outlets tried to enter the building to get comments.

3. On February 28, the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea held its session without journalists. At this session, it was planned to approve the members of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic. The journalists asked the presidium members, who were giving them comments near the building, to let them in, but they were still not allowed in. 

4. On March 1, in Simferopol armed masked men captured the building of the Trade Union House, where the editorial office of the online media outlet “Center for journalist investigations” and the informational press centers are located. The men in military uniforms, who captured the building, introduced themselves as the “Crimean Front” and informed that they intended to give a press conference, which was later held under the flag of Russia. Then the invaders insisted that the representatives of “Crimean Front” would take over the press center because this building “keeps sending out false information”. Later they set the staff of the “Center of journalist investigations” free.

5. In Crimea, unidentified men captured the studio rented by Savik Shuster.

6. On March 1, civilians in camouflage with St.George ribbons, who are blocking the vehicular entrances to Crimea near the town of Armiansk, would not let to Crimea the journalists of the online media outlets “Khersonski Visti” Ihor Trubayev and “Tvoia Pravda” Oleh Zaichenko. Their car was searched, they were told to turn back and prohibited to make photos.

7. On March 1, in Simferopol unidentified masked men would not let the ATR filming crew to attend the press conference in the captured Council of Ministers of Crimea. At the same time, Russian media outlets were allowed to the Council without any delays.

8. On March 1, the building of the State TV and Radio Company «Krym» in Simferopol was captured by armed men with no insignia, who said they were servicemen of the Russian Navy.

9. On March 1, unidentified armed men, who are blocking the vehicular entrances to Crimea, would not let pass through the Hromadske.TV journalist Bohdan Kutiepov, who wanted to go to Crimea. According to him, a man with an assault rifle told them to turn around, drive for 400 meters and stop, and warned them that if they tried to film he would shout without warning.

10. On March 1, unidentified armed men, who are blocking the vehicular entrances to Crimea, turned around the car of the Kyiv Post editor-in-chief Kateryna Horchynska at the checkpoint. According to her, the unidentified men in military uniforms accused her and other journalists of biased coverage of the events.

11. On March 1, unidentified men threw a rock as the car of the TSN filming crew (the 1+1 TV channel)  in the city of Balaklava (Crimea), when they heard the journalists speaking Ukrainian.

12. On March 1, unidentified armed men, who are blocking the vehicular entrances to Crimea near the town of Armiansk, took away the “Inter” TV channel's journalist Kyrylo Yushchyshen's video camera; they removed the memory card and the battery from it. They also threatened him with an assault rifle.

13. On March 1, near Krasnoperekopsk unidentified masked men did not let the television reporting van of the program «Sobytia» of the TV channel «Ukraina» to Crimea and ordered the filming crew to turn back.

14. On March 1, in Simferopol unidentified men beat the ATR TV channel's operator Rustem Murtazaiev. They hit him on the neck several times. He gave them the memory card and told he had no other memory cards. Then they let him go.

15. On March 2, during the live standup in Perevalne a man with a metal bar attacked the TSN filming crew, when he heard Ruslan Yarmoliuk speaking Ukrainian.

16. On March 2, during the live standup from Balaklava sea front unidentified people surrounded the TSN filming crew — Hryhoriy Zhyhalov and Pavlo Miasnov, and immediately after the live standup attacked and threatened them.

17. On March 3, the state enterprise “Radio and TV broadcasting center of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” stopped broadcasting the Chornomorska TV and Radio Company all over the peninsula. 

18. On March 3, in Sevastopol near the HQ of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation an unidentified man hit on the head Tetiana Rikhtun, the local journalist and head of IPC-Sevastopol, and took away her video camera. The attack took place when she was recording the video of the Russian armed military men.

19. On March 3, the online portal “Sobytia Kryma” issued a statement that it becomes unavailable from time to time due to powerful DDoS attacks, whose significant part was coming from Moscow. The media outlet believes that these attacks are connected to its truthful coverage of the events in Crimea and its refusal to support the presence of the Russian troops in Crimea.

20. On March 3, the website of Chornomorska ої TV and Radio Company was under severe DDoS attacks. As its technical personnel managed to learn, a significant share of the attacks was coming from Dnipropetrovsk. Its staff believes that both the attack on the website and the broadcasting of the TV channel being cut off are connected to its coverage of the events in Crimea.

21. Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea threaten to block the operation of local media outlets, which allegedly misrepresent the actual situation in the Autonomous Republic.

22. On March 4, in downtown Simferopol the the so-called patrolmen (members of the community defense volunteer squads formed in Crimea) attacked the well-known local photo journalist Andriy Kanishchev, when he was making photos of a brawl.

23. On March 4, Chornomorska TV and Radio Company was cut off electricity, as reported by Oleksandra Kritko, its editor-in-chief, on her Facebook page.

24. On March 4, on the vehicular entrance to Crimea the "1+1" TV channel's journalists were detained by armed men in camouflage, who took away their cameras and threatened them with physical violence. These men took the journalists hostage and told them they would use them as a human shield, were the checkpoint attacked. After the long negotiations, they let the journalists go, but still would not let them go to Crimea.

25. On March 4, the filming crews of the TV channels "Al Jazeera" and "1+1" found themselves blocked in the military base near Yevpatoria. After the journalists finished filming they wanted to leave the military base, but about 150 persons stood in their way. The crowd demanded that the journalists showed them their footage and their IDs. The filming crew made it out of the military base later. 

26. On March 4, in Simferopol unidentified men prevented the program “Podrobnosti” of the “Inter” TV channel's  correspondent Mykhailo Kolesnyk and operator Andriy Kostiuk from filming near the building of the coast guard HQ.

27. On March 5, during the attempted capture of the military base in Yevpatoria the TSN's special correspondent Oleksiy Bobrovnykov was attacked.

28. On March 5, in Simferopol the correspondent of “Arhumenty Tyzhnia - Krym” Stanislav Yurchenko was threatened by the representatives of the so-called “Crimean community defense volunteer squad”. They tried to take away the camera from the journalist and to smash it.

29. On March 5, in Crimea near Yevpatoria the tires on the car of the "Gazeta по-Ukrayinski" correspondent Anton Holoborodko were slashed. This happened after he, together with his colleagues, decided to follow the Russian military, who started moving from the previously blocked Ukrainian base in Novokozyrivka in the west of Crimea.

30. On March 5, in Simferopol fighters of Aksionov's so-called «community defense volunteer squad» blocked the OSCE representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, who was holding a meeting with the editors of Crimean media outlets and community leaders at Ukrayina Hotel.

31. On March 6, in Sevastopol near the building of the HQ of the Ukrainian Navy representatives of the so-called Crimean community defense volunteer squad beat the Channel 5 operator. The TV channel does not provide the operator's name due to considerations of his safety.

32. On March 6, the Russian State TV channel "Rossiya 24" started to broadcast on the wavelength of Chornomoska TV and Radio Company, whose broadcasting was switched off on March 3 all over the peninsula.

33. On March 6, in Simferopol the State TV and Radio Company «Crimea» was surrounded by several dozens unarmed men in camouflage. They would let inside the building only the TV and Radio Company's staff.

34. On March 6, in Crimea armed men captured Simferopol State Radio and TV broadcasting station and switched off Channel 5 and "1+1" and switched on instead the Russian state TV channel "Rossiya 24".

35. On March 6, the editor-in-chief of the online media outlet “Arhumenty Tyzhnia - Krym” Zayir Akadirov resigned from his position due to the founder's censorship and interfering with the outlet's editorial policy.

36. On March 6, in Simferopol a group of young thugs attacked two journalists of the German newspaper "Bild", who were working in a cafe on Kyivska Street. In particular, one of the thugs assaulted the "Bild" news photographer Andreas Tielen saying: "Occupants, get lost from Crimea!"

37. On March 6, Ukrainian and foreign journalists (but for Russians) were not allowed to enter the building of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to attend the unscheduled session, in which the decision on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea joining the Russian Federation and the referendum was being adopted.

38. On March 6, in Simferopol near the Camelot Club the so-called «Kazaks» attacked two foreign filming crews. In particular, they took away the satellite equipment of the British filming crew. They also  beat Bulgarian journalists Borian Katssarov and Dimitri Kenarov, who started to film the brawl, and took away their cameras.

39. On March 6, the helicopter with Ukrainian TV journalists from the Channel 5, 1+1, NTN and Novy Kanal had to urgently land in Kherson oblast in the settlement of Chornobayivka, as the pilots were informed that the helicopter had a bomb on board.

40. On March 6, in Simferopol armed men took away the equipment from the Associated Press filming crew and accused the journalists of being spies. The incident took place when the AP filming crew was setting their cameras near one of the local restaurants to transmit the video on live satellite broadcast.

41. On March 6, in Feodosia the «Hromadske.TV» journalist Bohdan Kutiepov experienced an aggressive attitude of rally participants. The dwellers of Feodosia were expressing their very negative and aggressive attitude towards all Ukrainian journalists and Ukrainian TV channels. 

42. On March 7, in Crimea the First Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR was cut off the Internet.

43. On March 7, the First National TV channel was replaced with the Russian channel TNT.

44. On March 7, at half past noon the TV and Radio Company of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine "Bryz", whose office is located in Sevastopol, was cut off its broadcasting wavelength under the instruction of the illegitimate leadership of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 

45. On March 7, during the confrontations near the military base No.2355 in Kozachy bay of Sevastopol the journalists were beaten, in particular, the «Inter» TV channel's correspondent  Andriy Tsaplienko and two operators Lysenko and Diedov. Their colleague Olena Mekhanik was under severe psychological pressure.

46. On March 7, during the confrontations near the military base No.2355 in Kozachy bay of Sevastopol the journalists were beaten. In particular, the attackers severely beat the Channel 5 producer Anton Loktionov and broke his fingers.

47. On March 7, during the confrontations near the military base No.2355 in Kozachy bay of Sevastopol the journalists were beaten. In particular, in the assault the Greek journalist Kostas Onisenko sustained the contusions and a broken nose.

48. On March 7, during the confrontations near the military base No.2355 in Kozachy bay of Sevastopol the journalists were beaten. In particular, the correspondent of the online media outlet «Russkaia Planeta» Pavel Nikulin (the Russian Federation) was beaten bloody by the gunmen. He was attacked by a burly masked man with a St.George ribbon, who said he was from Russia.

49. On March 7, in Simferopol two «patrolmen» attacked the filming crew of the STB TV channel during live standup in the evening news program «Vikna-Novyny» at 10 p.m.  The filming crew consisted of the journalist Oleksiy Simakov and operator Oleksander Albinskiy, with the help from the operator Viacheslav Skvorchevskiy and journalist Igor Levenok. The operators were being pushed; the attackers damaged the video equipment.

50. On March 7, in Crimea instead of the “Inter” TV channel the Russian TV channel "NTV" is being broadcast.

51. On March 8, in Simferopol near the building of the Republican enlistment office the  journalists-investigators Anna Babinets and Dmytro Hnap («Hromadske.tv»), Vlad Lavrov (Kyiv Post), Kostiantyn Reutsky (a streamer from Luhansk) and four journalists from Russia were attacked by gunmen in green uniform. They were only, nobody sustained any injuries.

52. On March 9, in Crimea all Ukrainian TV channels were cut off analogous broadcasting, the only Ukrainian TV channel left was Tonis.

53. On March 9, on the checkpoint near the vehicular exit from Crimea unidentified men in the Berkut uniform brutally searched the Insider's freelance news photographer Serhiy Humeniuk, threatened him with physical violence and twice tried to take away his cameras.

54. On March 9, near Armiansk on Perekop (the strip of land that connects the Crimean peninsula with the Ukrainian mainland) unidentified men in military uniforms detained Olena Maksymenko, the photojournalist of the 'Tyzhden' magazine, and AutoMaidan activists Kateryna Butko (the organization's press secretary) and Oleksandra Riazantseva.

55. On March 9, on the border between Kherson oblast and Crimea, where the Russian gunmen established their checkpoint, the freelance news photographer Oles Kromplias and another journalist were kidnapped.

56. On March 9, Russian gunmen detained the correspondents of the Turkish information agency "Anadolu", who were filming the column of 50 military cars near Kerch.  

57. On March 9, in Sevastopol Lidia Huzhva, the journalist of Spilno.tv, was filming the rally to commemorate the birthday of Taras Shevchenko when unidentified men snatched from her hands her smart phone she was streaming with right during the live streaming. The incident was recorded on video. The unidentified men took from the streamers not only their equipment but also their driver's licenses. 

58. On March 10, the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea continued to prevent the Ukrainian journalists from doing their job. The Crimean speaker Volodymyr Konstantynov held a briefing, to which the UNIAN correspondent and the journalists of the leading Ukrainian channels were not invited.

59. On March 10, in Simferopol and Yalta the digital broadcasting of Ukrainian TV channels was cut off. The wavelengths of the Ukrainian TV channels are now used to broadcast federal Russian TV channels: "Pervyi", "NTV", "RTR-Planeta", as well as many entertainment Russian TV channels (STS, TNT, RenTV, TV-3).

60. On March 10, on the vehicular entrance to Simferopol Russian gunmen at the barrel of assault rifles rudely searched and humiliated the journalists of Bulgarian national TV channel, повідомив спеціальний correspondent  БНТ Маріо Гаврилов, якого відряджено до Ukraine.

61. On March 11, the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea adopted a decision on transfer of subordination of the Crimean State TV and Radio Company «Krym». This decision was approved on the unscheduled session of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

62. On March 11, near Armiansk men in the Berkut uniform took away from Italian journalists all their equipment. 

63. In the morning on March 11, in Yevpatoria a group of determined citizens led by Serhiy Kutnev, the head of the local organization of the party 'Russkoye Edinstvo' (Russian Unity), entered the office of the newspaper 'Yevpatoriyskaia Zrdavnitsa'. They arrived to «fire» the editor-in-chief Dmytro Onishchuk because they had a problem with him. Onishchuk resigned the day before, on March 10.

64. On March 11, Russian military men seized equipment from a cameragroup of NRK TV-radio corporation. The incident happened at the entrance to the Crimean peninsula. The journalists were also accused of spying.

65. On March 12, French journalists from the TV channel France TV1 were detained by unidentified men near Armiansk in the Northern Crimea. As the activists from EuroMaidan -SOS community reported they received a call from the journalists' colleagues that they lost contact with the journalist, the operator and their Crimean driver, who was taking the crew over Perekop land bridge to Crimea. The driver managed to make a call and tell that they were being detained by men in uniform, who were smashing the crew's equipment. Later the journalists contacted their colleagues.

66. On March 12, the Slovak news photographer Yan Guzar was detained by "Crimean community defense volunteer squad" at the airport "Simferopol." At first they took away his passport and all his equipment, then returned it, but instead took away his memory cards with footage and demanded a bribe of $500 to give them back.

67. On March 12, in Crimea the Ukrainska Pravda journalist Anastasia Bereza had to deal with Berkut fighters, armed gunmen and the so called patorlmen, who were interfering with her professional duties.

68. The self-proclaimed Crimean authorities refuse to accredit the Crimena Tatar TV channel АTR to any of their events.

69. In Simferopol, the so-called "Crimean community defense volunteer squads" kidnapped the French journalist from Canal+ David David Geoffrion.

70. On March 11, on the border between the Crimean peninsula and the Ukrainian mainland the Russian gunmen took away all equipment from the filming crew of the largest Norwegian TV and Radio Corporation NRK and accused them of being spies.

71. On March 14, Russian gunmen threatened the journalist Kateryna Serhatskova with assault rifles and tried to pull her to the territory of the military enlistment office they captured. The activists managed to help her escape, but all her equipment was seized by the Russian gunmen.

72. On March 13, in Sevastopol the so-called “community defense volunteer squad” broke into the editorial office of the IPS-Sevastopol claiming they would now guard the building.

73. On March 14, in Simferopol near the Crimean military commissariat, where the so-called Crimean army is located, armed men took away equipment from journalists.

74. On March 13, in the evening in Kerch unidentified men damaged the electric cable and the electric meter of the radio tower on Chernyshevskoho Street, which is owned by the TV and Radio Company 'Bryz'.

75. On March 14, In Sevastopol a group of armed men detained the UkrStream.TV operator Oleh Balaban when he was on the editorial assignment. Together with his colleague he was transporting self-made shields and bullet-proof vests for protection of journalists.

76. On March 15, in Simferopol, unknown people with weapons stormed into Moscow hotel and seized memory cards from journalists, who stayed there. 

77. On March 16, in Alushta at the polling station No.01004 the filming crew of the TV channel Al Jazeera was attacked by representatives of the "community defense volunteer squad", broke their equipment, chased them out of the polling station and did not let them film there.

78. On March 16, at the polling station No.10020 in Feodosia representatives of the "community defense volunteer squad" prohibited to film and make photos; in Saky at the polling station No.07010 there was the announcement that filming and making photos is prohibited. At several polling stations in Bilohorsk and Simferopol the patrolmen tried not to let the journalists in, but after long phone negotiations changed their mind and allowed them to stay.

79. On March 16, in Djankoy no representatives of media outlets were allowed to enter the polling stations. Only Channel 11 was allowed in.

80. On March 16, in Simferopol at the polling station No.08069, where Serhiy Aksenov, the head of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, not recognized by the official Kyiv, was voting, not all journalists were allowed in despite their accreditation. In particular, the representatives of AFP and several other English-speaking outlets were not allowed in.

81. On March 16, in Simferopol at the polling station No.08163 the polling committee tried to prohibit the ICTV filming crew from filming despite their accreditation and explained their actions with the fact that the crew failed to get registered with the committee before the polling station opened for operation.

82. On March 16, on the vehicular entrance to Sevastopol the journalist of «Fontanka» Iryna Tumakova, who came under the editorial assignment to cover the unconstitutional referendum, was blocked by the “at the polling station. ”

83. On March 16, in Kerch at the polling station No.0537 representatives of the "community defense volunteer squad" took the photo camera from the journalist of one of the local newspapers and told her to leave.

84. On March 16, in Simferopol two operators of the creative association “Vavylon13” Yaroslav Pilunsky and Yuri Hruzinov disappeared.

85. On March 16, in Kerch the security detail of the city mayor Oleh Osadchy attacked the “Argumenty Nezeli – Kerch” journalist, who was taking photos of the mayor assaulting a man.

86. On March 18, a group of unidentified men attacked and kidnapped a journalist and operator of local ATR TV-channel. They were beaten, and released after some time.

87. The website of the Crimean media outlet 'Center of Journalist Investigations' is temporarily down due to DDoS attacks.

88. On March 18, in Bakhchisarai unidentified men kidnapped and later left in the middle of a field Levko Stek, the journalist of the Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian office. Unidentified men pulled him out of the bus, handcuffed him, put a bag over his head, and threw on the back seat of a car. Then they drove around for a while, then took memory cards from his phones and photo camera, and left him in the middle of nowhere in the fields, telling him never to come to Crimea again.

89. On March 20, Russian gunmen captured the TV and Radio Company of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine "Bryz."

90. On March 21, the State Council of Crimea declared it would combat media outlets that receive funding and grants from other countries.

91. On March 21, due to the pressure the director of the media center IPC Sevastopol and editor-in-chief of the website «Hromadska Oborona» Tetiana Rikhtun was forced to flee Sevastopol and went to Kyiv.

92. On March 22, in Chongar the Al Jazeera filming crew was detained by the so-called «border patrol». Patrolmen stopped the car with the Al Jazeera correspondents. They kept the journalists from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then let them go.

93. On March 22, the news photographer from Saint-Petersburg Oleskander Aksakov was injured during the attack of the Russian army on the Ukrainian military base A-4515 (tactical aviation brigade 204) at the Belbek aerodrome.

94. On March 23, "Komsomolksaya Pravda v Ukraine" stopped publishing in Crimea. The editorial office received the notification from the brand owner that Crimea was excluded from the licensed territory, where the brand holder has the right to publish an circulate the newspaper.

95. On March 24, the Crimean Republican Committee on Protection of Cultural Heritage concerning communal and private objects of cultural heritage declined the information request sent from Kyiv. The reason was that on the territory of the Russian Federation the Law of Ukraine on Access to Public Information has no effect.

96. On March 25, in Sevastopol (the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) the broadcasting of the radio station «Vesti» was switched off.



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