Freedom of speech situation in Ukraine has slighlty improved in the first half of 2016 - IMI experts registered 129 cases of freedom of speech violations in total, compared to 143 cases for the same period in 2015 (including the occupied territories and the Crimea - 154 cases compared to 175 violations in the first half of 2015).
These are the data of the annual survey "Freedom of Speech Barometer" conducted by the Institute of Mass Information.
At the same time, physical aggression against journalists has remained at about the same level - 23 attacks on journalists were registered in the first half of 2016 (similar to the figure for the same period of 2015), and 23 cases of threats and intimidation (22 were registered in the first half of 2015).
The category with the largest number of violations registered by IMI experts was impediment to lawful professional activities of journalists (45 cases). It is even more than for the same period of the last year (34 cases).
At the same time, there is an improvement in journalists' access to information - we are aware of 9 cases of violations related to access to information in the first half of the year, compared to 16 cases during the same period in 2015.
Among the leaders of violations in the first half of 2016 are (non-occupied territories of Ukraine) Kyiv and Kyiv region - 38 cases (Kyiv - 35, region - 3), Odesa region - 11, Mykolaiv region - 10, Volyn, Dnipro region, Zaporizhzhia region - 7 and Donetsk region - 6.
According to IMI, the peak of freedom of speech violations in the first half of 2016 was traditionally in April and May. Most often, journalists risked their cameras being smashed, they were kicked out from the officials' offices, were not allowed to make shooting in the courts, which doesn't need a permit, and pushed away from the scenes of car accidents involving officials.
In general, the biggest violators of freedom of speech in Ukraine (unoccupied territory) were: ordinary citizens - 71 cases, the local authorities - 20 cases, officials - 8 cases. For comparison, the top three biggest attackers on journalists last year were individuals, the judiciary, security guards.
In Russian-occupied Crimea there were registered 22 cases of violations of freedom of speech this year. On the peninsula the media was pressed by Russian secret service FSB, police, Roskomnahlyad, the judiciary and individuals.
In the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (so-called "LNR" and "DNR") IMI has recorded 3 cases of violations (in the same period last year there were recorded 11 cases). Such a small number of violations has to do with the fact that dozens of journalists have left and dozens of medias ceased working. As to this area, the role of media is actually performed by social networks. The cases recorded by IMI had to do with blocking of more than 100 Ukrainian news web sites in so-called "LNR", order issued in so-called "DNR" to cut off almost all Ukrainian TV-channels. Also, there was a publication on a separatists' web site of a list of journalists who were accredited by Ukrainian authorities to work in ATO zone.
A full description of the cases that were included in the "Freedom of Speech Barometer" in the last month CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Institute of Mass Information conducts monthly all-Ukrainian monitoring of freedom of speech situation called "Freedom of Speech Barometer" with support of Internews Ukraine program, NED, a network of regional experts of IMI is supported by the international organization Freedom House.