Elections Campaign 2012: for three months there have been — 185 cases of violations of journalists' rights
The pre-election period clearly differs in the number of violations from other months of 2012. Thus, in January 2012 the number of the violations was 6, but in October 2012 it was over 100, i.e. for ten months the number has grown 17 times.
The most widely spread violations were obstructions to journalists' professional activities — 98 cases. There were also appeals against Media to Courts (32), facts of assaults and intimidation of journalists (37), cases of indirect pressure on Media workers (13), illegal arrests of journalists (3) and appeals from Media to Courts (2).
І. Violations During the Pre Elections Campaign
Namely, there are many cases when journalists were not allowed to visit the meetings of the parliamentary candidates with the voters or mass events, organized by them or prohibited to make photos or videos.
For example, on August, 8, 2012 a deputy and a parliamentary candidate Кateryna Samoilyk (The Communist Party) prohibited Tetiana Zhuchenko, a journalist from Kherson, to be present at the meeting with the local citizens and make videos in the village Myrne, Kalanchatsky district, Kherson region.
On September, 10, 2012 in Donetsk region, a candidate from the Party of Regions at the constituency 59 Оleksandr Vasiliev rudely prohibited the journalists of TV channel Capri to make videos during his meeting with the electorate. Iryna Prypelska, an Editor-in-Chief, said that the candidate threatened to break cameras if the journalists didn't stop recording and the guards threatened to meet again in Krasnoarmiysk, where there is an office of the channel.
On September, 12, 2012, in12 вересня у селі Кисоричі Рокитнівського району Рівненської обл. журналіста газети «Точка ОПОРИ» Юрія Мочаєва силою виштовхали з приміщення, де виступав кандидат в народні депутати від Партії регіонів, екс-губернатор Рівненщини, в. о. ректора Національного університету водного господарства Микола Сорока. В коридорі невідомий пригрозив йому, що якщо журналіст не припинить знімати, то залишиться без фотоапарату та здоров’я.
On October, 17, 2012, the crew of the Channel 5 wasn't allowed to enter the concert organized by Vitalii Zhuravskii, a deputy and a parliamentary candidate from the Party of Regions, in Korostyshiv, Zhytomyr region. Oksana Trokoz, a journalist, informed that four people headed by a Chair of local Department of Culture closed the door and pulled an operator away.
Journalists, involved into investigations connected to bribing of voters were under particular pressure.
On October, 15, 2012, in Berdychiv, Zhytomyr strangers attacked and assaulted Kostiantyn Kovalenko, a journalist of the Internet publication HolosUA, who was investigating the case of bribing voters by Mykola Petrenko, a perliamentary candidate, at the constituency. On October, 15, around 9.30 p.m. the strangers with rugged bodybuild wrung my hands and pushed into SUV and beat me, tortured and intimidated me not to publish the information, - said a journalist.
On October, 22, 2012, a crew of the program Pohliad of Kirovohrad State TV and Radio company consisting of Kyrylo Yushchynenko, a journalist, and Ivan Fomichenko, an operator, were forced to stay in the headquarters of Oleksandr Tabalov, a parliamentary candidate from the Party Batkivshchyna, and the guard tried by force to take away their camera and cassettes. Beforehand, the journalists recorded Tabalov's actions directed at bribing the voters, falsification of the election documents and other violations.
Also on October, 22, 2012, strangers broke the car of Oleh Pedebriy, a journalist of Zakarpattia regional newspaper RIO. A journalist investigated the case of bribing voters by Vasyl Kovach, a parliamentary deputy from the Party of Regions, in the village Serednie, Uzhgorod region in Zakarpattia. The incident happened in the evening on the same day, when the journalist communicated with the peasants.
Very often journalists suffered from the physical assaults, they and their equipment were damaged. In most cases the guards of the candidates or strangers, who were near the candidates, made such actions.
For example, in Odessa region, an assistant of a parliamentary candidate and a deputy beat Yuriy Rebryk, a journalist, in the studio PravdaPRO, because he was recording Vitalii Barvinenko, a deputy, at the concert devoted to the 200th anniversary of the village. The rep of the Party of Regions just used the concert for his election campaign and instead of the leaflet the candidate's leaflet, a journalist received a slap from his assistant.
In Lugansk region, Valerii Moshenskii, a parliamentary candidate at the constituency 108 (Krasny Luchm Perevalsk district, Lugansk region) and a deputy of Kyiv Council, a leader of the Fraction Block Lytvyna, injured Ivan Zheved, a journalist of the Internet publication Molod-news and an activist of the Chesno Movement. Zheved was recording the meeting of Valerii Moshenskii with the electorate.
On October, 20, 2012 in Brovary, Kyiv region, on the eve of the Prime Minister Azarov's visit strangers attacked the journalists and activists that tried to get into the constituency office. Thus, an unknown man damaged the phones of Alla Diachenko, a journalist of the Internet publication Maesh Pravo Znaty, and Andriy Kachor, a journalist of the newspaper Hromadskii Zahyst Kyivshchyny, who were recording the events.
Methods of indirect pressure were also applied to journalists and Media.
For example, there was a search in the office of the Internet publication Glavnoe, that belongs to Arsen Avakov, a deputy of Kharkiv Regional Council, Batkivshchyna Party, and a candidate. The search was done without journalists, who were pushed outside the office. They confiscated servers, where there were archives of the publication.
One more case — in Lutsk, the police called for interrogation Natalka Moskovks, an editor-in-chief of TV channel Avers and Andriy Lev, an editor-in- chief of the newspaper Avers-Press on October, 12, 2012. The journalists are the witnesses in the criminal case on hooliganism in the office of Olena Hileva, a parliamentary deputy and a rep of the European Party of Ukraine, though they both state that they weren't there during the incident and they didn't send there any journalists. According to Moskovka, the interrogation was not about the criminal case, but about the police asked about the activities of the company and journalists, what they record and who they give materials to.
Numerous appeals from the candidates against Media can be also considered to be cases of pressure on Media before elections.
Namely, the Court stopped publication of Osobystyy Pogliad newspaper up to the end of elections, and in such a way it completely satisfied the appeal of Dmytro Voitseh, a candidate to deputies in single-mandate constituency №95 and a Deputy of Irpin City Council, against the newspaper. The newspaper printed pics of the leaflet against the candidate and expressed thoughts that he himself could have ordered such dirty political technologies.
Several other local newspapers can face the threat of being closed as the Courts didn't manage to make decisions before elections or were postponed.
Thus, on October, 4, 2012, a parliamentary deputy from the Party of Regions Volodymyr Demchuk appeled against the newspaper Rivne Vechirnie with the demand to stop publication of the publication up to the end of the elections. The reason of the appeal was inappropriately labeled pre election campaign advert of the Party Udar, which (according to the politician) contained invalid information about the Party of Regions. Although according to P. 27 Art. 71 Law of Ukraine on Elections of the Parliamentary Deputies Media is not responsible for the information of the pre election campaign adverts.
On September, 14, 2012, a parliamentary candidate from the Party of Regions at the constituency 149 Оleksiy Leliuk appealed against the newspaper “Hazeta Po-Ukrainsky in Poltava” for publication of the interview with Vitalii Tokov, a rep of the Committee of Voters in Ukraine, where he said that Leliuk was giving sweets and flour from the State Rserves to the voters.
On October, 5, 2012, a self-nominated candidate at the constituency 123 in Lviv region Тaras Batenko appealed against the Internet publication “Varianty”. The politicians demands to refute the information in the article Charity by the State Expenses, which he considers not to be true, and demands to refund him 50,000 hrn of fine as a moral compensation and expenses for the Court fees.
According to the data of State TV and Radio Company, till October, 29, 2012, 120 Court decisions in cases on Media violation of election legislature received from parliamentary deputies or political parties were made. 48 of them were satisfied. In most cases printed Media were the defendants (95 cases). The mostly wide spread subjects of appeal were the refusal to provide space for printing info; spreading of invalid information; violation of the rules of publication exit polls results and materials, that contain political advertising without pre-payment from the elections fund to the subject of the election process.
Most of these appeals were from the reps of the Party Batkivshchyna (31) and 17 of them were satisfied in favour of the candidates. The reps of the Party Udar sent 17 appels and 5 of them were satisfied. Reps of the Party of Regions sent 15 appeals and 7 of them won. From other smaller parties there were 20 appeals and 6 of them were satisfied. There were also 37 appeals from the self-nominated candidates and the Court satisfied 7 of them.
ІІ. Violations on the Day of Elections
On October, 28, 2012, on the day of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, 16 cases of obstruction to journalists' activities were recorded and also one case of attacking a journalist and indirect pressure.
The most cases are those, when journalists were not allowed to enter the constituencies, where people voted or where the calculation of voices took place. Thus, in the village Yarevyshche, Volyn region, Liudmyla Hrinchuk, a Head of the local election commission №070855 and a rep of the Party of Regions chased Volodymyr Voloshyn, a journalist of the newspaper “Volyn. Svoboda”, who was recording the fact of destroying the bulletins.
In the village Diula, Vynohradivsky district, Zakarpattia region, Oleksand Shopi, a Head of the village Council, took away the IDs of journalists and pushed them out of the the local election commission №210089.
Markian Prosiah, a journalist of the newspaper Halytskyi Correspondent, and several other journalists and observers were not allowed to be present at the morning meeting of the local election commission №260430, situated in the village Kosmach, Ivano-Frankivsk region.
In the town Krasnyi Luch, Luhansk region, Оleh Yatsenko, a journalist of the newspaper “Ukraina Moloda” and a freelance reporter of “Tochka Opory”, was chased from the office of the election commission № 440898 (108 constituency), because he disturbed them. At the same time, the members of the commission don't dive the copy of their decision about removing the journalist.
There were also cases, when the journalists were prohibited to video record the work of the election commissions. Thus, in Rivne region, Serhiy Loskutov, a Head of a district election commission №156, prohibited Georgiy Oliynyk, a journalist of “Rivnenskyi Reporter” to make photos and pushed him out of the room. He also caused obstructions to the work of the journalists of RTV, grabbed a camera and tried to damage it.
In Brovary, Kyiv region, near the office of the local election commission №97 a stranger broke a camera of Andriy Kachor, a journalist of the Internet publication “Maesh Pravo Znaty”. The journalist was recording how Oleksandr Hrytsay, a member of the commission, gave comments for Pershyi Nationalnyi Channel and said that the situation in Brovary is even more relaxing then it was expected. The police didn't react to the incident.
Many DdoS-attacks to the sites of the Internet publications, that blocked their work, have been recorded. The most such cases happened to Crimean Media: for several weeks the sites of weekly Sobytiz and TV channel Chernomorskaya have been attacked, and since 1 p.m. on October, 28, 2012 the site of the Center of Journalists Investigations hasn't worked. Тhe same happened to the information press center IREX in Crimea.
The sites of NGOs Maidan, The Committee of Voters of Ukraine, ElectUA.org and Оpora, who were recording the violations of the election legislature, have been attacked by the hackers.
This year we faced a new obstruction to the work of the journalists during elections, These are so called trolling attacks to the mobile phones. Thus, a mobile phone of Volodymyr Prytula, a journalist of “Radio Svoboda” in Crimea, was blocked, because every 10 sec there were calls from the anonymous phones and after answering there was a Russian song about elections. Several other journalists and Media lawyers, who helped them to highlight the information about elections, also suffered from the similar attacks.
Coordination Center of help to the journalists on the day of elections has recorded 11 requests and, to compare, in 2004 there were over 60 such requests. The hot-line of IMI received only 4 requests. Roman Holovenko, a lawyer of IMI, thinks that this small number of calls can be explained by the fact that the journalists now are better prepared to their work on the day of elections and know better their rights. Media organizations posted in advance at their sites the list of advice for the journalists.
For the first time we have recorded the facts that in cases of obstructions or misunderstandings at the constituencies journalists, first of all, called police, but not Central or District Election Commissions. The policeman on duty helped journalists to negotiate with the members of the local commissions, but refused to record the case of violation of their rights. It concerns the situation in Kyiv, where the police pretended not to see the incident – said Tetiana Katiuzhynska, a lawyer of the Coordination Center, organized by the Association of Media Lawyers and National Union of journalists of Ukraine and the Commission of Journalist Ethics.
ІІІ. Violations after Elections during Calculation of Voices
On October, 29-31, 2012, there were cases, when journalists were not allowed to enter or were chased from the offices, where calculation of voices took place.
On October, 29, 2012, in Irpin, Kyiv region, there was an insident between journalists and young people, who didn't allow Media reps to enter the office of the election commission at the constituency №95. It happened, when reps of the OSCE tried to enter the building. After the incident, a rep of OSCE and an interpreter were let in, but journalists – no.
On October, 29, 20112, in Odesa, a Head of the election commission №511194 at the constituency 134 tried to chase the journalists, and explained it by the fact that they disturbed the members of the commission to drink 50 grammes. Before it, a Head of the commission proposed to sign four blank protocols, just in case. Journalists tried to prevent these violations and that is why a Head tried to get rid of the journalists.
On October, 30, 2012 in Kyiv at the constituency №215 soldiers of Berkut prevent journalists from the entering thoffice of the election commission №244, where they recalculated the voices of Halyna Hereha and Adriy Illenko, the candidates. During this time the leader of Berkut ordered not to let in any journalists.
On October, 31, 2012 in Kyiv, the journalists and other people, except the memmbers of the commission, were chased from the meeting of the district election commission №223. Journalists were waiting for the re-checking in to get to the meeting. At that time a woman tried to bring out the protocols, wrapped in the newspaper.
In Kyiv, two journalists, who were broadcasting the events at the constituency №215 on October, 31, were sprayed tear gas. Maksym Levin, a photo-journalist of Lb.ua, received injuries. They say, that the men in sports wear got off the bus with the sign Epicentr (Hereha is the owner of it) and sprayed the gas into their eyes. Journalists wrote statements to the police.
In total, in 2012 a record number of violations of journalists' rights in Ukraine have been recorded for the last 10 years. Up to now in 2012, 329 cases have already been recorded, which is by 3,5 times more then it was for the whole last year. Before it, the most violations (190 cases) were in the year of the Presidential Elections in 2004.
The Report is prepared within a framework of a monthly monitoring Barometer of Freedom of Speech, conducted by The Institute of Mass Information with the support of The National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
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