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Elections to Verkhovna Rada almost had no violations of freedom of speech, but had pseudo-journalists - IMI

22.07.2019, 15:44
Photo credit: The snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada on July 21, 2019 have been held in compliance with the legal professional rights of journalists. IMI experts recorded only one case of violations of freedom of speech. However, several incidents have been recorded when some intruders got press cards. These are the results of monitoring held by the "Institute of Mass Information" NGO the voting day. Violation of freedom of speech occurred in Poltava on July 21, where the head of the election commission banned the photographer for the “Zmist” (Content) edition Bogdan Proskurov to take pictures at the polling station, even after he presented his press card. The incident was over, when the head of the district election committee was explained that he violated the law. IMI experts revealed several incidents involving pseudo-journalists in Donetsk, Zhytomyr, Poltava and Ivano-Frankivsk regions:
  • In Pokrovsk (Donetsk region), some persons with the press cards looking fake (like printed) were identified at the polling station, as the Deputy chief of the police in Donetsk region Pavlo Alekseyenkosaid at the press briefing in Kramatorsk.
  • In Kremenchug (Poltava region), some persons came to the polling station naming themselves as the journalists and presenting their press cards of freelancers for the newspaper “Avtograf” and the communal “Kremenchug city TV and radio company”. At the same time, they say to be observers.
  • On July 21, in Mariynka (Donetsk region), in the district # 59, some persons were identified who presented themselves as journalists but failed to provide their press cards.
  • In Korosten (Zhytomyr region) at the single member district #64 four persons were detained who presented themselves as the journalists for “Television and radio company Zhytomyr Novyny”. The police claimed the press cards were forged.
  • In Donetsk region, several buses were not let in with young sportsmen, who presented themselves as the journalistsand were going to an excursion trip to the region, as the deputy head of the Main directorate of the National police in Dnipropetrovsk region Volodymyr Bohonis said.
  • In Ivano-Frankivsk city mayor Ruslan Martsinkov and his first deputy, Mykola Vitenko, came polling station # 260898, justifying their presence with the press cards of local media outlet.
In addition, in Kherson a voter who registered himself as a journalist for the media “Legal control of Ukraine” hid one voting paper in his pocket. The police previously qualified the offense - Part 1 of the article. 158-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine "Illegal use of the ballot paper, a ballot for voting at a referendum, voting by a voter, a referendum participant more than once". The publication "Legal Control of Ukraine" “Legal Control of Ukraine” claimed that the man who tried to get out the ballot paper was a freelance correspondent for the newspaper and at the same time, they shed responsibility for unlawful actions of the persons who became special correspondents of our editorial board on a voluntary basis." On  July 21, the day of voting for the People’s Deputies of Ukraine, to IMI emergency phone line the journalists called to ask questions related to the activities of the media on election day. In particular, journalists asked about the specificities of taking photo and recording video at the polling stations, or whether official observers are obliged to name themselves to journalists and to comment on, and whether the journalist can enter the polling station after the end of the voting at 20:00. Besides that, many telephone calls to the IMI hotline came from some persons who got temporary press cards and came to the polling stations as observers, and not for their journalists' duties. One should remind, during the first round of the presidential elections in Ukraine on March 31, IMI experts recorded a total of six cases of violations of journalists' rights. The second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine on April 21, 2019 was held in compliance with the legitimate professional rights of journalists - only one case of violations of freedom of speech was recorded . At the presidential elections in 2014, seven cases were recorded.
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