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Press Freedom Barometer for November 2013

24.12.2013, 18:30

Violations against journalists in November

Censorship   -    11

Beatings, assaults  -   9

Impeding journalists’ professional duties  -   5

Political pressure  -  4

Lawsuits against journalists  -     3

Cyber crimes against journalists  - 3

Access to information  -  1

Economic pressure  -  1

 

In November, the largest number of violations IMI registered was in the category «censorship» – 11 cases. The number of such cases compared to October has grown almost threefold (in October – 3, in September – 1). In November, the number of beatings and assaults on journalists has almost doubled – 9 cases (in October – 5, in September – 4). These data are presented in the Institute of Mass Information's monthly monitoring «Press Freedom Barometer».

At the same time, in November the number of cases of impeding journalists’ professional duties decreased threefold – 5 (in October – 15, in September – 11). The number of cyber-crimes against media outlets and journalists also went down – in November 3 such cases were registered, while in October there were 14. This month, IMI registered no cases of threats or intimidation.

The number of cases of political pressure grew a little in November – 4 cases (in October – 3, in September – 5).

Besides, in November IMI registered 3 lawsuits against media outlets and 3 lawsuits from media outlets and journalists. There also was 1 case of economic pressure (in October there were none registered).

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI registered 83 cases of assaults on journalists and threats to them, 120 cases of impeding journalists’ professional duties, 51 cases of censorship and 44 cases of political and economic pressure.

In November, the high-profile and unprecedented violations of freedom of press and journalists' rights were the cases of assaults and beatings of journalists. In 8 cases out of 9, journalists got injured on events (or because of events) in support of European integration, which they were covering. Journalists mostly suffered from the actions of the special unit "Berkut" and "titushki" (young athletic thugs hired discretely to do the authorities' illegal bidding).

In particular, in Kyiv during the confrontation near the building of the Cabinet of Ministers an officer of the special tactical unit «Berkut» assaulted the Ukrainsky Tyzhden correspondent Stanislav Kozliuk. According to Kozliuk, when he was filming the confrontation near the Cabinet of Ministers, one of «Berkut» fighters started pushing him with his baton and shouting «Back off!» Kozliuk, in his turn, informed him that he was a journalist and was following the editorial office’s instructions. He was not able to show his ID.

At the same location, near the Cabinet of Ministers, fighters of the special tactical unit «Berkut» assaulted the camera operator of Channel 5 Ivan Nakonechny. "Berkut" was pushing him around and silencing him, they also broke his camera light.

Another journalist to suffer when covering the EuroMaidan events near the building of the Cabinet of Ministers was the Ukraina TV channel's journalist Kateryna Filipenko, who ended up with a severe contusion of an arm and chemical burns of mucous membranes. During the confrontation between supporters of European integration and «Berkut» on Yevropeiska Square, the camera operator of the Ukraina TV channel Viacheslav Filushkin (programs «Sobytia» and «Sobytia Nedeli») was injured – a severe contusion of the chest.

Near Mariyinsky Park, "titushkis" assaulted and beat the journalists of Hromadske.tv Dmytro Gnap and Yakov Lubchych, broke their camera and took away the thumb drive with their materials.

On the night of the crackdown of the EuroMaidan in downtown Kyiv, Berkut fighters injured the Reuters Ukrainian news photographer Glib Garanych in the head. The journalist of the Komentari magazine Dmytro Kachura was also injured – on Instytutska Street, Berkut fighters were throwing stones at protesters, and one of the stones hit him in the back.

In November, it was the cases of censorship that became indicative as to the state of freedom of press in Ukraine. The majority of them are connected with journalists resigning from the magazines and websites «Forbes Ukraina» and "Korespondent", who left out of their dissent with the changes introduced in the editorial offices. in particular, 14 journalists resigned from «Forbes Ukraina» due to the attempt to change the editorial office's policy, what they clearly explained in their collective statement. The journalists considered the actions of the new owner, especially in regard of the staff of the Forbes.ua website, to be attempts to introduce censorship, according to the editor-in-chief of the Forbes Ukraina magazine Borys Davydenko. As he explained, the website's staff was told not to cover certain topics. When they expressed their disagreement they were told in no uncertain terms that those who did not like the new rules were to leave. With some website staff members, the management tried to offer them compensation for letting them go, but the journalists refused and brought the entire issue into public space. After that, a lot of their colleagues from the magazine supported them and resigned, too.

Seven journalists resigned from Korespondent, and another 24 employees are leaving, as well. In particular, the ones that left were the magazine's editor-in-chief Vitaliy Sych and the website's editor-in-chief Julia McGuffie.

The Korespondent journalists shared that in the Korespondent publishing house owned by the businessman Sergiy Kurchenko, a special division has been established to censor all publications. In particular, a scheme was introduced that before any material is published, even a piece of news on the website, it has to be read by the special administrative department.

Another case of censorship took place on the Inter TV channel's talk show «Shuster Live», in which during the speech of the Prime Minister Mykola Azarov the indicator of the level of the studio audience's trust, the so-called «thermometer», was taken off screen. Azarov was speaking about the government's strategy concerning the European integration. In particular, he pointed out that the association agreement with the European Union does not presuppose the opportunity of Ukraine's membership in the EU.

Moreover, when opposition politicians appeared on Shuster's talk show, "Shuster LIVE", the broadcast was interrupted with a TV series; it was a real scandal. According to the Udar party MP, Iryna Gerashchenko, opposition leaders were invited to the show, they came to the studio premises, and they got their mics hooked up. But when they tried to enter the studio, the Party of Regions MPs blocked the entrance. During the commercial break after the first part of the program, the opposition leaders made their way into the studio and tried to find out why they were not allowed in earlier. When the commercial break was over, it turned out that the Inter TV channel already started broadcasting some TV series.

Another case of censorship took place on the Biznes TV channel, where the desk editor of the Biznes TV channel Tetyana Melnychenko was fired for covering the rally in support for integration with Europe, which is being held in Kyiv on Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

As in previous months, unknown individuals are sparing no effort in disrupting the screenings of the documentary almanac "Open Access." For instance, in Donetsk, they derailed the screening by spilling unknown fluid in the audience hall. In Ivano-Frankivsk and Kharkiv, the screening was canceled due to a blackout.

The predominant majority of cases of impeding of journalist activities in November was about not allowing journalists to attend these or those events, and officials' refusals to conduct sessions in the journalists' presence. The mayor of Bilgorod-Dnistrovsky (Odeska oblast) Igor Nanovsky refused to receive citizens in the presence of the filming crew of the Bessarabia-TV TV Channel.

In Mykolayiv, the journalist of the NikVseti online media outlet Oleg Dereniuga refused to leave the session of the regular commission in the issues management of city municipal property and so the deputies of Mykolayiv city council left the room where the session was held. Later they just gathered in the vice-mayor Yuri Andriyenko's office, locked the door and would not let journalists in.

Prymorsky rayon court refused to let journalists and community leaders attend the hearing of the case of the activist of the party Democratic Alliance Oleksiy Chorny, who was detained on the eve of November 25 during the crackdown of EuroMaidan.

 

PHYSICAL AGGRESSION

Beatings, assaults – 9

 

1. In Kyiv, security guards of the construction site on Zhylianska Street attacked journalist

On November 7, in Kyiv security guards of the construction site on Zhylianska Street attacked the journalist of the media outlet «Ekologia ta Sotsialny Zahyst» (‘Environment and Social Welfare’) Vitaly Tereshchenko when he was making photos of the construction works. He was diagnosed with a trauma to his right shoulder. IMI was informed about this by Tereshchenko.

According to him, this construction is illegal and he often visits it to make photos.

When he came this time, local dwellers were protesting and preventing a construction truck from entering the site. He was making photos of the event when he was approached by security guards. They did not introduce themselves and insisted that he delete the photos, threatened him and tried to pry the camera from his hands, and in the process they hit him in the shoulder. The locals called the police; the journalist submitted a complaint.

 

2. In Zhytomyr, young athletic thugs injured 20 Khvylyn newspaper journalist

25 November 2013

 

On November 23, in Zhytomyr unidentified young thugs assaulted the editor-in-chief of the local media outlet "20 Khvylyn" Vlad Puchych. He informed about this on his Facebook page. According to him, the assault took place on 11.50 pm.

He was coming home when he got attacked by two athletically built men dressed in trekking suits. They followed him in the entrance hall, knocked him off his feet and kicked him in the ribs. When they left he crawled home and called the police.

He is not sure whether the attack was caused by his journalist activities or by his civil activism. About every month, his newspaper publishes anti-corruption exposes that go against the interests of a lot of influential people. But on the other hand, he is one of the organizers of the EuroMaidan in Zhytomyr, besides doing a lot of activism work.

 

3. "Berkut" fighters assaulted Ukrainsky Tyzhden journalist

25 November 2013

On November 24, in Kyiv during the confrontation near the building of the Cabinet of Ministers an officer of the special tactical unit «Berkut» assaulted the Ukrainsky Tyzhden correspondent Stanislav Kozliuk, informs Tyzhden.ua.

According to Kozliuk, when he was filming the confrontation near the Cabinet of Ministers, one of «Berkut» started pushing him with his baton and shouting «Back Off!». Kozliuk, in his turn, informed him that he was a journalist and was following the editorial office’s instructions. He was not able to show his ID. He made several steps towards the confrontation, and they started to kick him in the knees. He ended up with scratches and bruises.

 

4. Near Cabinet of Ministers, "Berkut" fighter assaulted 5 Channel camera operator

25 November 2013

On 24 November, in Kyiv fighters of the special unit “Berkut” assaulted the camera operator of Channel 5 Ivan Nakonechny. This was reported by the journalist of Channel 5 Olga Snitsarchuk and photographer of Komersant-Ukraina Vlad Sodel.

Vlad Sodel uploaded a photo of Nakonechny, when a “Berkut” was silencing him with a hand.

According to the camera operator, the incident took place on 5:30 pm. Following the editorial office’s instructions, he was filing activists of the EuroMaidan, who came to the building of the Cabinet of Ministers. He proceeded past the police cordon to film ‘Berkut’ fighters with shields in their hands. Three of them approached him, and ignoring his ID and claims that he was press, pushed him out of the territory of the Government’s building, pulled him down and kicked him.

Nakonechny himself commented that he did not sustain any injures, but his camera was damaged – the police officers broke the light on it. As of now, he does not plan to file a complaint against them.

 

5. When covering EuroMaidan, journalists of Ukraina TV channel injured

24.11.2013 In Kyiv, during the confrontation between rally participants for European integration of Ukraine and the special unit «Berkut» near the building of the Cabinet of Ministers, the journalists of the Ukraina TV channel, Viacheslav Filushkin and Kateryna Filipenko, were injured. This was reported by the channel's press service а у.

Kateryna Filipenko got a severe contusion of an arm and chemical burns of mucous membranes.

 

6. When covering EuroMaidan, camera operator of Ukraina TV channel injured

25.11.2013. In Kyiv, during the confrontation between supporters of European integration and «Berkut» on Yevropeiska Square, the camera operator of the Ukraina TV channel (programs «Sobytia» and «Sobytia Nedeli») Viacheslav Filushkin was injured – he got a severe contusion of the chest. This was reported by the channel's press service.

«Together with correspondent Olena Shevchuk we were covering the events on Yevropeiska Square on Monday night. Around 8 p.m., the confrontation began. It was «Berkut» on the one side, and protesters on the other. I ended up in the epicenter of this whole brawl. Naturally, I kept filming. It was a professional habit – to think first not about myself, but about the camera, so I raised it in the air, and my body was left defenseless. Everybody was pushing but I did not feel pain, I assume, due to the adrenaline rush», – Filushkin shared.

After the filming Filushkin felt sharp pain in his ribs. He came up to the ambulance on the site and on the next day had his chest X-rayed. Doctors diagnosed a severe contusion of the chest, but found no fractures or cracks.

 

7. In downtown Kyiv, Hromadske.tv journalists beaten

29.11.2013. Near Mariyinsky park, the journalists of Hromadske.tv (online Public TV) Dmytro Gnap and Yakiv Lubchych got beaten. Their camera was smashed and their thumb drive with the footage was taken

Later on, live on Hromadske.tv Dmytro Gnap with blood on his face reported that they were attacked by about 20 persons as soon as they started to film people going to the alternative gathering place, where the ruling party’s anti-EuroMaidan was being held.

«We were assaulted twice. During the first assault we lost the camera, we turned to the police officers and asked to detain the attackers. But some police officers refused. We called the alarm response force and then two police officers went with us. We were filming with a phone. We came up to the leaders of those athletic thugs and they did not even bother to hide their faces», — was the quote from Dmytro Gnap published by Telekrytyka.

Gnap pointed out that those leaders started shouting, «Attack the cops and take away the camera», and unknown thugs started to beat both the journalists and the police officers. They were separated. According to Yakiv Lubchych, after that one of the thugs made a photo of the beaten police officers and threatened that they would lose their jobs for protecting the journalists.

The attackers also took the phones of Hromadske.tv journalists.

After the incident, Dmytro Gnap and Yakiv Lubchych decided not to wait for police or ambulance and went back to the Hromadske.tv studio. Later the ambulance arrived at the sudio to take Gnap to hospital to have his injured face stitched.

 

8. In downtown Kyiv, Berkut fighters injured Reuters’ Ukrainian news photographer

30.11. 2013. Berkut fighters injured the Reuters Ukrainian news photographer Glib Garanych in the head. According to Ukrainska Pravda news website, the incident took place around half past midnight on November 30 on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv, after Berkut fighters started to push people from the traffic way. Another journalist, David Chkhikvishvili, was filming the confrontation and his camera was smashed. This was reported on Facebook by the journalist Sergiy Karaziy.

 

9. "Berkut" threw stones at protesters – Kometari journalist injured

30.11. 2013. In Kyiv, on Instytutska Street Berkut fighters were throwing stones at protesters. One of the stones hit the correspondent of the Komentari magazine Dmytro Kachur, the magazine’s website informs. According to the journalist, people were trying to talk to Berkut fighters but they just started throwing stones and other stuff at them, and one of the stones hit him in the back. This took place near the October Palace where several hundred police officers were gathered.

 

Impeding professional journalist activities – 5

 

1. City Mayor in Odesa oblast refused to receive citizens in presence of Bessarabia-TV journalists

On November 4, the mayor of Bilgorod-Dnistrovsky (Odeska oblast) Igor Nanovsky refused to receive citizens in the presence of the filming crew of the Bessarabia-TV TV Channel. According to him, this TV channel has been biased in covering the activities of the local authorities. This was reported by Odesa.Komentari with reference to the Vyborchkom media outlet.

Every Monday in the morning, the mayor would receive citizens. This time, the dwellers of Dekabrystiv Street came in together with the filming crew. The mayor left the room and refused to see citizens with the filming crew there. When the crew left, he continued receiving citizens. As he explained he would not mind having press attending but their presence is usually agreed upon beforehand. Another concern of his was that people would come to him with personal issues and he did not want them to unwillingly become the fodder for press as this TV channel has been biased and subjective.

On their part, the editor-in-chief of the Bessarabia-TV TV Channel Olena Romanova claims that their journalists accompany citizens on their visits to officials regularly and that they never enter offices with them unless invited by citizens themselves.

 

2. In Volynska oblast, officials forced the journalist to leave the meeting

On November 6, in the village of Voyutyn (Lutsk rayon, Volynska oblast) the journalist of the Volyn-Novanewspaper Sergiy Naumuk was asked to leave the meeting with the heads of departments of agro-industrial development. Naumuk reported this himself to IMI.

Although the meeting was open and announced on the oblast state administration’s website, the officials explained that it was an operational meeting. The journalist left because he did not want to make a racket.

 

3. In Lviv, men that tortured eagles would not let Lviv24 journalists film a news story about the birds

6.11.2013. In Lviv, unknown street vendors, who offer passers-by to take a photo with the Red Book eagles for money, were preventing the filming crew of the Lviv24 TV channel – journalist Khrystyna Shevchenko and camera operator Roman Mylenky – from filming a news story about cruelty to the birds. This was reported in the story published on the TV channel’s website.

According to the story, these entrepreneurs from Crimea kept the birds in a basement for almost a month, and police would not come when called by the journalists, and when on the fourth call they did arrive they just had a private conversation with the owner of the basement. Both times the camera crew came they were attacked by the basement owner and the street vendor, who were using foul language, hitting the camera and waving fists at them.

 

4. Odesa police would not let journalists attend court hearing against EuroMaidan activist due to judge's oral prohibition

26.11.2013. Prymorsky rayon court refused to let journalists and community leaders in the session hall for the hearing of the case against the activist of the Party «Democratic Alliance» Oleksiy Chorny, who was detained on the eve of November 25 during the crackdown of EuroMaidan.

As it was explained by the Chief Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Odesa oblast, police would not let journalists attend the hearing of the party activist due to the judge's oral prohibition: «During the consideration in Prymorsky court of Odesa of the administrative case against Oleksiy Chorny, who was detained for disorderly conduct and persistent resistance to police, the witnesses requested no journalists in the session hall and the judge gave an oral instruction not to let them in». Police emphasizes that actions of the police officers were in compliance with the judge' decision.

 

5. In Mykolayiv, deputies failed to kick out journalist from their session so they left session hall

27.11.2013. In Mykolayiv, the journalist of the NikVseti online media outlet Oleg Dereniuga refused to leave the session of the regular commission in the issues management of city municipal property and so the deputies of Mykolayiv city council left the room where the session was held. Later they just gathered in the vice-mayor Yuri Andriyenko's office, locked the door and would not let journalists in.

The deputies explained they did not have a quorum so they were just going to discuss some issues unrelated to local self-government. When asked why then during their working hours they were busy with unrelated issues they started to question the journalist's reason for being there and ended up closing the office's door in front of him.

According to NikVesti 's information, at this session the vice mayor Юрій Andriyenko was supposed to report on powers to be transferred from the Department of housing and utilities infrastructure of Mykolayiv city council to rayon administrations.

 

Censorship. Access to information

Censorship – 11

 

1. Screening of "Open Access" in Donetsk was derailed by spilled unknown substance

01.11.2013. In Donetsk, an unknown man derailed the screening of the documentary almanac “Open Access” by spilling some unknown liquid, as reported by “Novosti Donbasa.”

Several dozens of people came for the documentary screening in one of the city cafes. The organizers did not announce the screening site, the gathering was announced to be at 6 p.m. near the Shevchenko monument.

The screening went its regular way until one of the viewers spilled unknown fluid in the room so an unpleasant smell started to envelop people. The screening was interrupted to call the rescue team and police. According to eyewitnesses, the young man who spilled the fluid left immediately after.

At the same time, the screening organizers Tetiana Piklun and Anton Kushnir had to seek medical attention with symptoms of poisoning.

 

2. TV anchor in Cherkasy was suspended from production of political talk show due to “esthetic inadequacy”. Anchor considers this pressure

6.11.2013. The General director of Cherkaska oblast state TV and radio company «Ros» Oleksander Trukhmanov issued an oral command to suspend the author of the program «The country we need» Valentyn Cherniavskyi from the production, yet Cherniavskyi is still not familiarized with the corresponding written order. The latter addressed the National Association of journalists with the application in this regard, Procherk informs.

“Among the reasons the boss named when we talked was my lack of literacy, esthetic inadequacy and low quality of preparation of the programs. When I asked what are these claims based on, Mr. Trukhmanov started using obscene words”, said Cherniavskyi, who also attached the audio recording of the conversation.

At that the author of the program «The country we need» emphasizes that he was conducting it over a year, and never before received any complaints from the administrators or the audience.

“I think that his biased attitude to me as the editor of the TV and radio company formed when we were preparing for a planned live airing of the talk show «The country we need» (17.10.2013) that was approved in the editorial calendar. The topic was the electoral campaign of 2013. The relevant guests were invited, and Mr. Trukhanov approved their list initially. Yet in two days before the live airing, the general director canceled the program. The reason he gave for this is that I did not invite the representative of the Central Electoral Commission who works in Cherkasy. The director ignored the fact that there is literally no such individual in existence», Valentyn wrote. The talk show in question is on the verge of being shut down as no other employee of the company agrees to produce it. Valentyn Cherniavskyi does not intend to give up and plans to continue his work in the company where he produces two other programs. He thinks that the real cause of the pressure is fear of the director of the mentioned program, because of lack of control over what the participants might say in the live broadcast.

 

3. Due to attempts to change editorial policy, 14 Forbes Ukraine journalists resigned

13.11.2013. Fourteen journalists and editors of the magazine Forbes Ukraine’s website filed their letters of resignation as their protest against the attempts to change the magazine’s editorial policy.

As correspondent Kateryna Shapovalova informed Telekrytyka, among those resigned there were the magazine’s editor-in-chief Borys Davydenko and the website’s editor-in-chief Oleksandr Ruban, as well as the website’s deputy editor-in-chief Kateryna Kobernyk, the magazine’s editors Volodymyr Verbiany, Roman Sudolsk, and Vladyslav Golovin, the website’s editors Daria Marchak, Maksym Kamenev, correspondents Maria Zhartovska, Kateryna Shapoval, Kateryna Sychenko, Yulia Danylenko, and Lesia Voytytska, as well as the art director Sergiy Lysenko. Also, the head of the innovation department of the Ukrainian media holding UMH Lab Leonid Tsodikov informed about his intention to resign on his Facebook page. According to their statement, they decided to resign to protest against the attempts to change the media outlet’s editorial policy. The listed above staff members are yet refraining from further comments but they promised to comment on this later. The management has not yet accepted their resignations. For the context, Forbes Ukraine belongs to UMH Group, which was recently purchased by the group of companies SEPEK (VETEK) owned by Sergiy Kurchenko. The contract was closed on November 5. The founder and president of UMH Borys Lozhkin, the head of the UMH segment of business media Nadia Shalomova, the marketing director Olena Martynova, and the UMH first vice president Grygoriy Shvert resigned from their positions in the media holding.

 

4. In Ivano-Frankivsk, screening of "Open Access" disrupted

13.11.2013. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the screening of the film "Open Access" was disrupted. This was reported by the local screening organizer Natalia Sokolenko. She reported that in the cinema theatre ‘Lumier’ the screening of the film "Open Access" within the framework of the DocuDays festival was derailed. The light went out. They moved to the local office of Prosvita as they made preliminary agreements in other places, as well. When the story ‘Mezhygiria’ of the almanac was over, local police arrived and informed that they received information about a bomb planted in the building.

 

5. "Open Access" screening was derailed in Kharkiv by blackout

On November 13, in Kharkiv during the screening of the almanac "Open Access" the lights went out. The organizers only showed the first three minutes of the first almanac’s novella, as reported by Ukrainska Pravda. At that, the lights were on in the rest of the building, but the audience hall. The film was screened in the cultural center "Indi". There were about 50 persons present there. Throughout the year, "Open Access" was screened in 20 cities of Ukraine. In most of them unknown people were trying to derail the screenings.

 

6. Korespondent website and magazine lose journalists

18.11.2013. In the recent days, the editor-in-chief of the Korespondent magazine, Vitaliy Sych, its journalists Krystyna Berdynskykh and Anastasiya Bereza, as well as the editor-in-chief of the Korespondent.net website Julia McGuffie resigned from their positions. Vitaliy Sych decided to resign from the editorial office based on mutual consent of the parties. This is the information from the public relations department of the group UMH, Editorial Portal informs. Andriy Ovcharenko, who until recently was the editor-in-chief of Argumenty i Fakty v Ukrayini, was appointed the acting editor-in-chief of Korespondent magazine starting from November 18. Andriy Ovcharenko says that he is facing great challenges related to consolidation of the editorial office and the site. The executive director of the Institute of Mass Information Oksana Romaniuk believes that layoff of the journalists in the holding’s media outlets can be connected to the changes in the editorial policy that the company group ВЕТЕК is implementing. The journalist of the Korespondent magazine Krystyna Berdynskykh is resigning from the magazine, as she informed on her Facebook page. She mentioned that she had been working in her favorite editorial office for 6 years. Berdynskykh reminded that in her post she wrote after UMH was sold to the company group ВЕТЕК she promised to resign if the editor-in-chief were laid off, or if the new owners would intervene into the editorial policy. The journalist of the magazine “Korespondent” Anastasiya Bereza wrote her resignation application, as she informed on her Facеbook page. The editor-in-chief of the Korespondent.net website Julia McGuffie left the media outlet after working there for 13 years. The UMH group informs that the Korespondent’s two editorial offices are in the final stage of merging. The new collective will be working on the new technological platform. For the context, on November 5 the owner of company group SEPEK (BETEK) Serhiy Kurchenko and the founder, president of UMH group Borys Lozhkin, declared that closure of the purchase agreement by Kurchenko’s companies of 99.9% of shares of UMH group will be finalized ahead of schedule.

 

7. On Shuster live during Azarov’s speech on reneging on European integration, trust indicator was offline

22.11.2013. During the talk show «Shuster live» broadcast by the Inter TV channel on November 22, the speech by the Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was not illustrated by the indicator of the level of trust from the studio audience. Azarov explained the government’s strategy concerning the European integration. In particular, he pointed out that the agreement on association with the EU did not provide for the possibility of Ukraine’s membership in the EU.

For the context, the visual «thermometer» indicates, to what extent the talk show studio audience supports what a politician or a MP is saying. Earlier, journalists accused the editorial office of «Shuster live» of taking the trust indicator offline every time the floor is given to representatives of the authorities – including Mykola Azarov. Journalists believe this is to hide the negative response the audience is having to speeches of some of the talk show guests.

The «Shuster live» show on November 22 was dedicated to the decision of the Ukrainian government to cease the preparation process for entering into the agreement on association with the EU. That night, among the studio guests there were, besides Mr.Azarov, the head of the faction of the Udar party Vitaliy Klitschko, the head of the Communist Party of Ukraine faction Petro Symonenko, the head of the faction of the Party of Regions Oleksander Yefremov, the head of the Batkivshchyna faction Arseniy Yatseniuk and the head of the faction of Svoboda Oleg Tiagnybok.

 

8. Editor of the Biznes TV channel was fired for covering the rally in support of European integration

23.11.2013. The desk editor of the Biznes TV channel Tetyana Melnychenko informs she was fired for covering the rally in support for integration with Europe, which is being held in Kyiv on Maidan Nezalezhnosti. We know this from her Facebook page.

"My friends, this is a dangerous precedent. Today I was fired from the position of a desk editor of the Biznes channel news. The reason is that in the morning broadcast I gave the story about people rallying on Maidan because of disagreement with the government reneging on the process of integration with Europe", Melnichenko wrote.

"From the point of view of journalism, the broadcast was perfectly balanced. I do not regret anything. And I will not try to prove the point to anyone. There is a higher force that sees everything. And for each decision, one will have to answer, sooner or later", she added.

"I am glad that my bosses expelled me from the team like this, and I will gladly join people who are ready to produce work of real journalism. Also, I still believe in our people – their strength, fortitude, courage, and stalwart will, when they group together! Together we are power! The Ukrainian spirit will prevail!" the journalist wrote.

 

9. Kurchenko created special censorship department in Korespondent

28.11.2013. In the Korespondent media outlet, owned by the businessman and a friend of the President's son, Sergiy Kurchenko, a special department has been established to censor all its publications. This was reported by the editor of the section "Society" of the LB.ua online media outlet Victoria Gerasymchuk (Victoria Guerra) on her Facebook page with reference to sources in Korespondent itself. They told her that after the owners changed a new scheme was introduced that before publication every single of the materials, even news on the website is to be read by a special administrative section, like textbook censorship. "As far as I know, this is unprecedented for the recent history of Ukrainian journalism. There were attempts to do something like this in other media outlets. In one magazine, its owner even toils himself creating the covers. But an actual department with people who were hired specifically for censorship, which covers all publications with no exception, – this is the first," she pointed out.

 

10. When opposition leaders appeared on Shuster LIVE, talk show was interrupted by TV series

29.11.2013. The opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko, Oleg Tiahnybok and Arseniy Yatseniuk were not allowed to participate in the live broadcast of the talk show "Shuster LIVE" at 8.30 p.m., as agreed with them previously,Ukrainska Pravda informs.

According to Iryna Gerashchenko, the MP from the Udar party, the opposition leaders were being insistently invited by the talk show administrators for some time, so they agreed to participate in the talk show. When they came to the premises they received their studio mics and went on to the studio just to find out that the doors were blocked by the MPs from the Party of Regions who insisted that the opposition leaders were not in the invitation list and they were not allowed in. This disgrace of the Ukrainian TV was filmed on a camera of a foreign TV channel. Gerashchenko said she did not know the MPs who were blocking the doors.

During the commercial block after the first part of the program, the opposition leaders made their way into the studio by force and tried to find out why there were being locked out.

Another person to enter the studio was Pavlo Yelizarov – a stockholder of "Savik Shuster Studio", who, according to Oleg Tiahnybok, was at the entrance giving instructions to the security guards.

When the commercial block was over, it turned out that the Inter TV channel already started broadcasting a TV series. After learning this, the host Savik Shuster in his conversation with the studio guests pointed out that this seemed to be his last show on the Inter TV channel and this would be his farewell to the audience.

Shuster also said that he did not know whether the show broadcasting would resume and stated that he had no idea that it would be interrupted with a TV series.

Yatseniuk made a statement that the opposition would stay in the studio until the broadcasting of the political talk show resumed.

 

11. Twenty four employees resign from Korespondent magazine and website

29.11.2013. Twenty four employees resigned from the Korespondent magazine and media outlet. The ex-journalist of the media Khrystyna Berdynskykh wrote about this on her Facebook page.

«We have beaten the Forbes' sad record concerning resignations. More than 20 people are resigning from theKorespondent magazine and website (this includes everyone, who already resigned and those who will do so before the end of the year, and already notified the administration about this). I counted 24 people so far. Tomorrow will be the last working day of the editors-in-chief Vitaly Sych and Julia McGuffie. In the last week, they were not in charge of the process, just handing over the responsibilities», the journalist wrote.

 

Access to information – 1

 

1. Lviv railroad made secret of cost of repairs of ZIL truck, because journalists in their request did not mention why they needed it

25.11.2013. Nashi hroshi. Lviv made a request to the Lviv railroad concerning the cost of repairs of the truck ZIL-431610, yet this request was denied. One of the reasons given for the denial was lack of information about the purpose of the request, Nashi hroshi informs.

The request's actual reason was because Nashi hroshi.Lviv discovered that the State Territorial and Sectoral Association «Lviv railroad» paid UAH 42 thousand to LLC «Petrus» for repairing of the truck ZIL-431610. This information was obtained from the state enterprise's report about the results of tenders for the third quarter of 2013.

The report indicates the price for the truck's repairs. Yet according to the open source data, an average price of ZIL-431610 is UAH 20-30 thousand. The price of the most expensive automobile of this brand found on the Internet was UAH 56 thousand.

The IMI media lawyer Roman Holovenko says that under the current law there is no obligation to provide rationale of the purpose of collecting the information, yet when sending a request to a state enterprise (or municipal enterprise) it is advisable to mention that the requested information is of public interest (in particular, taking into account the enterprise' status).

“The sphere of effect of the Law on Access to Information in regard of such enterprises is narrower than the one concerning governmental agencies, so not all of their information can be obtained based on such requests, yet when the issue is about spending funds, the probability of receiving such information is higher, due to public interest in this”, the lawyer said.

 

Indirect pressure

Political pressure – 4

 

1. Rybak promised to divide journalists from MPs with a glass shield

20.11.2013. The Head of Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Rybak intends to order installation of a glass shield in the press box of the Parliament session hall. This is what he said of November 19 during the plenary session, Ukrainian News inform.

This measure was promised due to request of the member of the Party of Regions, Mykhailo Myronenko, who complained that the journalists were throwing things from above.

The opposition, however, considers that this is but an excuse, and that the Party of Regions complains about this just to avoid the monitoring, as the journalists can record cases when voting is conducted by colleagues of MPs, not by them personally, and as a result such vote can be rendered void.

 

2. Court withdrew the license of the ATV TV channel

13.11.2012. Odesa district administrative court satisfied the claim of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council to withdraw the license of the ATV TV channel, owned by the currently detained ex-MP Igor Markov. This was reported by Dumskaia.net. The ground for this claim was that the license should have been updated due to changes in the owners and the TV company failed to do so. The channel’s representatives already made a statement that they indent to appeal the court decision.

 

3. Another clone of Ukrainska Pravda appeared online

27.11.2013. Another clone of the Internet media outlet Ukrainska Pravda appeared on the Internet. The website with the same name, located at the domain ukrpravda.ua, started to be updated since November 18. The website claims to be an informational agency Ukrainska Pravda, established and registered in 2013. «Our goal: using the standards of modern Ukrainian journalism, to bring to people even the news others don’t cover, to be worthy of the name ‘Ukrainska Pravda’ (Ukrainian truth)», says the website’s description.  The website published the image of a certificate on state registration of the informational agency as a subject of information-related activities as of April 24, 2013, according to which the agency was founded by LLC «Ukrainska Pravda». Telekrytyka managed to find in the state register of printed media outlets the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, registered as of April 29, 2013, whose founder of which is LLC «Informational agency ‘Ukrainska Pravda’».

 

4. Kremenchuk city council liquidated private TV channel Vizyt

29.11.2013. Kremenchuk city council liquidated the private TV channel Vizyt, excluding it from the Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine. This information was provided by the press service of the Independent media trade union of Ukraine. As the trade union states, such resolution was approved in breach of the judgment of the Court of Appeals of Poltavska oblast, which denied the city council’s request to exclude Vizyt from the state register.

Besides, the city council resolved to transfer the rights to manage the TV company Vizyt to a municipal cooperative society founded in 1991, which has been dormant for many years. This way, the private TV channel Vizyt, which had been broadcasting in the city for over 20 years, was seized into municipal property. The grounds for liquidation of the independent TV channel was the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Poltavska oblast, made under the claim of Kremenchuk city council requesting to transfer the corporate rights for the private TV channel to the municipal enterprise.

«The resolution of Kremenchuk city council was made in excess of the body’s jurisdiction, as the local self-government body did not have the right, in breach of the court resolution, to throw the enterprise out of the state register”, says the lawyer of the Independent media trade union, Oleksander Tarasov. “Also, the court’s judgment in general was against the law, except the mentioned one part, as in fact it sanctioned raider seizure of the private property, which brings up strong doubts about the court's independence from other governmental agencies».

According to Tarasov, the trade union plans to file a cassational appeal against the judgment, and will be raising the issue of bringing the judges of the first instance and courts of appeal to disciplinary, or even criminal responsibility, and bringing the leaders of the city council of Kremenchuk to criminal responsibility.

 

Economic pressure – 1

 

1. Forbes-Ukraina's journalists were offered money for resigning

20.11.2013. The journalists of Forbes-Ukraina were offered money for resigning. The ex-editor of the Forbes-Ukraina's political section Maksym Kamenev shared this information in the studio of Channel 5.  "We did not hear any particular amount we would get, but they said several times: 'People, please, write resignation applications, and you will receive compensation payoff.' It was worth several monthly salaries", he said. Kamenev also said that some topics would no longer be covered by the media outlet.

 

Legal pressure

Court claims against journalists and media outlets – 3

 

1. Deputy of Rivnenska oblast council files court claim against Nashi Hroshi's editor-in-chief to refute published information and recover UAH 20 thousand of compensation.

04.11.2013. Petro Dubas, the head of the PJSC 'Rivnegas' and deputy of Rivnenska oblast council, filed a court claim against the editor-in-chief of the website Nashi Groshi Oleksa Shalaisky. He demanded that the website would refute an article it published on September 3 and pay him material compensation in the amount of UAH 20 thousand. The article in question was about the company controlled by the deputy's wife Tamara, which has been winning quite a lot of tenders for public construction works, in spite of the prices twice as high as its competitors. The defendant’s lawyer claimed that these demands had no grounds and that the article had the facts right. Dubas himself did not come to the court hearing, neither did any representatives of the company in question. His lawyer refused to comment his position to journalists.

 

2. Court in Donetsk region refused to accept Party of Regions deputy's claim against Nasha Druzhkovka newspaper

12.11.2013. The article in question offered keen criticism of the sudden increase in prices for utilities in the city of Druzhkovka. The deputy, Vitaliy Pidopryhora, filed a claim demanding to refute information provided in the article and to pay him moral damages of UAH 100, 000. After the case became widely known to local residents, city activists started to gather funds for the defendant’s lawyer, and the claimant reduced the demands for his moral damages compensations to UAH 1.

On November 12, 2013, after hearing the arguments of both parties and three witnesses, the court decided against the claimant.

 

3. Editor-in-chief, against whom Kalush journalists rebelled, wants to claim through court UAH 380 thousand from Vikna newspaper, for publishing open letter to mayor

14.11.2013. The acting editor-in-chief of the municipal newspaper Dzvony Pidhirya (city of Kalush, Ivano-Frankivska oblast) Mykhailo Kucherak demands from the editorial office of the newspaper Vikna to officially refute the information about him published in the newspaper and on the website on August 2 under the title «Kalush Journalists addressed Nasalyk and deputies. Open letter», which he considers untrue, and to apologize for it. Otherwise he threatens to file a claim to the court against Vikna, and against the editor-in-chief Oksana Huzynets-Mudryk, to compensate for his moral damages. All this is communicated in the letter from Kucherak, which the editorial office of “Vikna” received on November 14.

The newspaper reminds that the above-mentioned letter to the mayor of Kalush, Ihor Nasalyk, and to the deputies of Kalush City Council was signed by 37 representatives of different media outlets. The reason for the journalists' indignation was the fact that Mykhailo Kucherak dismissed journalist Liudmyla Pastushok from the position of an executive editor of Dzvony Pidhirya.

The letter was stating the following: “Our opinion is that the real reason of Liudmyla Pastushok’s dismissal is not «systematic violations of labor discipline», but her occupational activities and attempts of the newspaper's new director to take the municipal authorities' fancy at any cost, including «throwing out» from the editorial office the journalists who dare write about the city's real problems objectively.”

Also, in this letter the journalists asked Kucherak “as a person who is a contender for a public office, that is, the editor-in-chief of the municipal newspaper of Kalush, to publish information certifying his qualification for the position before the scheduled session of the city council” - namely, his resume including previous work experience and a copy of a document certifying his qualifications, with appendices, as these are the requirements he sets for people seeking employment in the newspaper.

The journalists requested that Kalush city council review at the nearest scheduled session the work of the editorial office of the Dzvony Pidhirya newspaper, with the purpose to evaluate its HR and informational policy, as conducted by the acting editor-in-chief Kucherak, who was assigned by the mayor.

 

Internet pressure

Cyber crimes against journalists and media outlets – 3

 

1. “Ukrainska Pravda” under hacker attack

25 November 2013

The editorial office of the online media outlet Ukrainska pravda on November 24 announced that their website was under a heavy hacker attack. The editors wrote about this on their Facebook page. As of 6 pm, November 24, the page with the address http://www.pravda.com.ua/ would not load. As the editorial office staff informed, someone attempted to hack the site. "It is not the first time it happens, yet our specialists have encountered a massive attack like this for the first time", their message says. The media outlet intends to work through social networks Facebook and Twitter until the issue is resolved. As of 10 am, November 25, the website of the media outlet was still down for the most part.

For the context, on November 24 in Kyiv and in other cities of the country people gathered for rallies to support integration with Europe. Ukrainska Pravda was broadly covering these events.

 

2. Hromadske.tv website under DDoS attack

On December 26, 2013, the Hromadske.tv website was under a DDoS attack. This information was published on the Hromadske.TV's Facebook page.

“We just received a call from our hosting company – the servers with our website are under a DDоS attack with capacity of 20 Gbit. Our website, just like all other websites on this server, is going down from time to time", the message says.

 

3. Hackers attacked and destroyed all Censor.net's information

On November 26, 2013, the online media outlet Censor.net was hacked. The Censor.net's editor-in chief Yuriy Butusov informed Ukrainska Pravda about this. "The Censor's servers were hacked, all information has been destroyed", he said.

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