Since the beginning of the year, in Ukraine there were 21 cases of beatings of journalists related to their professional activities. The beatings were committed by private individuals (17 cases, mostly the attackers were participants of protest rallies, private security guards, and others), officers of law enforcement agencies (3 cases, of them in one case the officers were from the State Guard of Ukraine, and in two cases – from the police), and in one case, the journalist was injured when the pro-Russian militants shelled Avdiyivka. For comparison, in 2016 IMI experts registered 38 cases of attacks against journalists, in 2015 — 58 cases.
These are the results of the monthly monitoring «Freedom of Press Barometer», which is conducted by the NGO «Institute of Mass Information ».
The most high-profile cases of journalists that were beaten:
- On June 24, in the center of Odesa, in the daytime, two identified men attacked the local female journalist, blogger from «Dumskaya», environmental protection activist, Svitlana Pidpala. They used tear gas against her, then started punching her face. In the hospital, Svitlana Pidpala was diagnosed with craniocerebral injury, bruising of soft tissues and forehead periosteum.
- On July 6 in Kryvyi Rih, cameraman of the city online media outlet «Pershyi Kryvorizkyi», Vyacheslav Volk, was shot in the neck during military training. On September 4, his attorney Maksym Horelikov commented that the military prosecutor’s office of Kryvorizkyi garrison of the Southern region of Ukraine does not acknowledge that the cameraman is the victim in one of the criminal cases that were opened based on article 420 (negligent conduct in the military service). Under this case, the military prosecutor’s office needs to investigate the actions of military officers who organized the training. The defense planned to contest this step of the prosecutor’s office.
- On July 12 in Vinnytsia, unidentified men attacked the owner of the website «Vlasno.Info» Volodymyr Volovodiuk after journalists conducted an overview of bouncy castles and trampoline for children illegally installed in the city.
- On September 15, the officers of the State Guard attacked the filming crew of the journalist investigations program «Skhemy» – journalist Mykhailo Tkach and cameraman Borys Trotsenko, who was diagnosed with brain concussion and arm injury.
In total, in 9 months of 2017, IMI experts registered 206 violations of freedom of press (without occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas). For comparison in the full year of 2016, there were 264 violations , in 9 months of 2016 — 213 violations.
In 2017, the largest share of violations was committed in the categories of obstruction to lawful professional activities of journalists (64 case), limitation of access to information (31 case), and threats & intimidation of journalists (26).
The negative tendencies, compared to the previous year, is increase of violations in the following categories:
— not providing access to information (31 case for 9 months of 2017, for comparison, for all the previous year — 33). The journalist were denied in accessing the information by, mostly, local authorities which ignored the requests and responded with useless formal replies. Also, the administrators of information sometimes asked the journalists to send request using snail mail; demanded payment for copying the documents; demanded from the journalists their IDs from the editorial office in response to their requests. Also, there was a registered increase of cases of limitation of journalists’ access to local self-government bodies sessions by the local authorities.
— damaging property of journalists (11 cases in 9 months of 2017 – for comparison, in the full previous year — only 4). In the majority of cases, the property damaged was the car of the journalists – they were set on fire, chopped with an axe, or their tires were punctured;
— cyber–attacks (14, in the full previous year – 11 cases). In this year, journalists and mass media en masse became victims of the viruses, also, the number of DDoS-attacks against the web-sites of mass media and attempts to hack e-mail boxes of journalists increased;
— political pressure against mass media (7 cases, last year – 3 cases, all were related to the «Myrotvorets» case). In particular, this year’s examples of pressure include implementation of electronic declarations for NGOs, which also covers investigative journalists and individuals cooperating with anti-corruption NGOs. Also, the members of Supervisory Board of JSC «National Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company of Ukraine» reported attempts of political pressure by the parliamentary faction of the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko.
At the same time, the positive tendencies pointed out by IMI experts include decreased number of cases of threats against journalists (26 cases in 9 months of 2017 – for comparison, in the same period of 2016 there were 37 registered threats against journalists); decreased number of cases of obstruction to lawful journalist activities (64 cases for 9 months of 2017, compared to 79 cases for the same period of 2016) and reducing the number of beatings (21 case for 9 months of 2017, compared to 26 cases for the same period of 2016).
The largest number of violations since the beginning of the year was registered in Kyiv and in the oblast (48 cases), in Volyn (21 cases), Mykolaiv region (18), Poltava region (15) and Odesa region (12). In non-government controlled areas of Ukraine, there were 3 registered cases since the beginning of the year, in Crimea occupied by Russia – 11 cases.
As a separate case, IMI wants to draw attention to the current situation with financing of JSC «National Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company of Ukraine». In particular, in spite of the declarations of the Prime Minister who promised to financed the Public Television in full, the draft filed to the Parliament proposes to finance it in amount of 776 million hryvnias. This is only 50% from the amount of funding that must be provided to the Public Television based on the Law «On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting», and it is only 25% from the actual needs of this broadcaster — because the system has not been properly funded for over two decades. “Such underfunding means that Public Television will have to close all regional branches and to reduce the amount of broadcasting, and this cannot be allowed under any circumstances”, IMI executive director Oksana Romaniuk said.
Please find more details about freedom of press status on the IMI website in section “Freedom of press barometer”.
Institute of mass information conducts monthly all–Ukrainian freedom of press monitoring in the following categories: physical aggression, censorship and access to information, economic and political pressure, legal pressure and cyber-crimes against mass media and journalists. The monthly report includes only cases related to freedom of press and professional journalist activities. More details about methodology can be found here. The monitoring is conducted with support of the program U–Media Internews Network and NED, and also of the Media Development Fund of the USA Embassy, which supports the regional network of IMI.