IMI: «The number of refusals to provide information and beatings of journalists is growing journalists»
In the period of January 10-16, 2015, IMI registered six cases of physical aggression against journalists, two cases each of censorship and pressure on media outlets, and five facts concerning protection of freedom of press.
This week, the beatings of journalists were revenge-motivated, not in the course of their professional activities. One of these cases (in Chernihivska oblast) was about the material published two years ago. On some cases, the police refused to open cases under Article 171 (Obstruction to lawful professional activities of journalists), as the journalist was not on the job but at a night club (the case in Cherkasy).
- In Kyiv, the filming crew of the Russian TV channel LifeNews was obstructing the filming crew of Channel 5 and namely its journalist Azad Safarov during a live standup near the Office of the Prosecutor General.
- In Kharkiv, the office of the all-Ukrainian newspaper "Slovyanka" was attacked. Its founder Volodymyr Abramenko believes it was revenge from local criminals dressed as football fans.
- In Kharkiv, unidentified men in a car tried to knock down the editor-in-chief and journalist of the media outlet “Zoria” Vasyl Miroshnyk.
- In Chernihiv region, a journalist of the newspaper “Mayak” (Koriukivsky rayon) Victor Tataryn was beaten for the article he published two years ago.
- In Cherkasy, unidentified men beat the journalist of the local TV channel "Antena" Kostiantyn Shtukaliuk. The attack happened in a downtown night club ‘Manhattan’, where the journalist was spending time with his friends. The journalist thinks that the attack was related to his professional activities, as he was criticizing the ATO military commanders in his aired stories.
Ukrainian officials and bureaucrats still believe that information about them and their assistants is confidential and that discussions of budget are closed for coverage:
- The head of the Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Valentyn Zaichuk refused to provide the correspondent of Mykolayiv online media outlet «Prestupnosti.NET» Andriy Lokhmatov the information about names and surnames of staff consultants to MPs as he insisted that this information was confidential.
- In Chernihiv, local mass media representatives were not permitted to attend the extended council discussing of the local budget draft for 2015 and forecast of the oblast budget for 2016-2017. Serhiy Zhurman, acting head of Chernihiv oblast state administration, who chaired the council, asked journalists to stay only for the council opening, and to leave the assembly hall just after this.
Ukrainian media outlets are experiencing pressure both official (through international structures) and illegal, by DDoS attacks
- Moscow chapter of the Red Cross filed a lawsuit on the honor and dignity protection against 18 Ukrainian and American media outlets for the amount of RUR 170 mln.
- The website of the internationally broadcasting Ukrainian TV channel Ukraine Today (the group «1+1 Media») uatoday.tv sustained a DDoS attack. The hackers tried to disrupt the website’s regular operation. The attack took place through a domain name registrar in Ukraine. The hackers’ actions rendered the website unavailable to some users, mostly abroad.
This week’s positive tendencies are opening of criminal cases on facts of beatings of journalists, punishment in the form of fines and acknowledgment that police failed to act appropriately on cases of obstruction to journalist activities. Zhytomyr journalists expressed their solidarity with a colleague, who received threats from a son of a local politician, deputy of the city council.
- In Zhytomyr, near the oblast department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs local journalists held a picket with a demand to resume the criminal case on hooliganism by the son of a deputy of the city council: during an online broadcasting of the city council’s session the young man knocked the tablet out of the hands of the operator of the website “Zhytomyr.info” and threatened «to take care of him».
- Police acknowledged that actions of the police officer who was obstructing blogger Viacheslav Poyizdnyk in filming inside Industrialny police precinct in Dnipropetrovsk were unlawful.
- In Zaporizhzhia, a clerk of the credit union was fined for UAH 850 for obstructing professional activities of a journalist.
- The Chief Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Volynska oblast opened a criminal case under part 1 Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine after a filming crew filed a complaint about obstruction to journalist activities.
- A preliminary criminal case was opened under part 1 Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine after the journalist of Cherkasy TV channel “Antena” Kostiantyn Shtukaliuk was beaten.
This report was prepared within the framework of the project «Network of media observers», implemented by ІМІ with support from Freedom House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.