IMI: «In April, journalists mostly suffered from unidentified persons»
In April, in Ukraine journalists mostly faced the following forms of violation of their rights: obstruction – 10 cases and threats and intimidations – 5 cases. Compared to March, the number of violations in these two categories increased by half. This data was presented in the Institute of Mass Information’s monthly monitoring “Press Freedom Barometer.”
This month, most cases of obstruction took place in Kyiv and in Volynska oblast (four cases in each), and one cases each in Odesa and Poltava. In, Kyiv journalists were obstructed by unidentified persons and security guards. They would prohibit the journalists to film, demanded to erase the footage, damaged the car of the TSN filming crew, tried to smash the journalists’ camera.
In Volynska oblast, in April the ones obstructing were mostly judges, as well as police officers and border guards. In particular, judges prohibited journalists to record an audio or video of a court session on their portable equipment.
In Odesa and Poltava, the journalists’ rights were violated by a city council member and an official.
IMI experts recorded threats in Kyiv, Mykolayiv, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, and Poltava.
The journalists were threatened in a personal conversation. City council members, a lawyer, a security guard of an district state administration, and rally participants uttered those threats.
Also, in April the number of beatings and assaults on journalists grew as well – 4 cases (in March – 2, in February – 1, in January – 4). Of them, 3 took place in Kyiv, and one in Odeska oblast. In particular, this month the TSN journalists ТСН were attacked by assistants of Pavlo, the vicar of Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra: the assistants hit the camera operator with a car door. The journalists were filming a news story near Lavra about Pavlo’s anniversary.
Also, in April IMI registered 2 cases of censorship (in March, also two). The cases were recorded in Lutsk and Lviv. On Lviv oblast radio, the interview with the head of the National TV Company Zurab Alasania scheduled for April 25 was taken off the broadcasting schedule.
For the first time since the beginning of the year, IMI registered attacks on media outlets’ offices – 2 cases, which took place in Sumska oblast and in Kyiv. The attacks were committed against Konotop TV studio (the TV and Radio Company “Vezha”), which was set on fire by throwing Molotov cocktails, and the office of the TV and Radio Company “Ukraina”, in which unidentified persons spilled red liquid and left a sheet of paper with the words “Blood Will Spill!” printed on it.
Also, IMI registered 3 cases of refusal to provide requested information: journalists’ requests for public information were either refused, or ignored.
Also, there were also 2 cases of cyberattacks and 2 lawsuits from journalists, and 1 case of economic pressure.
In Crimea occupied by Russia, in April IMI registered 8 cases of violations of freedom of press and journalists’ rights (in March – 2, in February – 3, in January – 4). Russia’s FSB again started to search apartments of Crimean journalists and interrogate them. In particular, three Crimean journalists – Leniara Abibulayeva, Ruslana Liumanova and Mykola Semena, were searched.
All these violations were linked to FSB starting a criminal case against Crimean journalist Mykola Semena ‘for calls to violate the territorial integrity of Russia.’ After another interrogation, Semena was qualified as an accused.
Also, the access to the website ’15 khvylyn’ has been blocked on the peninsula. The Crimean Prosecutor’s Office controlled by Russia claimed that the website was conducting ‘informational coverage of actions aimed to violate territorial integrity of Russia, propaganda in support of the so-called ‘civil blockade of Crimea’, creating conditions for recruiting new volunteers to an illegal paramilitary group and so on’.
So, since the beginning of the year IMI registered 27 cases of obstruction, 11 cases of beatings and assaults on journalists and 4 cases of censorship.
«Press Freedom Barometer» is a monthly analytical product of monitoring of freedom of press in Ukraine, which is conducted by the NGO «Institute of Mass Information» with the support from the project «U-Media» implemented by «Internews Network» with the support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and from the Non-Profit Organization «National Endowment for Democracy» (NED). The network of IMI regional correspondents, which is working within the framework of the project «Press Freedom Barometer», is funded with the support from the international advocacy organization «Freedom House.»