Barometer of Freedom of Speech for September 2019
In September, the IMI experts recorded a total of 21 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Of these, 17 were facts involving physical aggression against the journalists.
These are the findings of the monthly monitoring held by the Institute of Mass Information “Freedom of Speech Barometer”.
Obstruction to work (10 cases) and threats (5) were the main violations of journalists' rights in September and by quantity, they remained almost at the same level as in August.
The new government officials got their names ticked, obstructing journalists to fulfil their duty. In particular, they did not allow journalists to attend the meetings of the Verkhovna Rada Regulatory Committee. Journalists with “Pryamyy” TV channel complained that they were not allowed to get in to the government event (presentation of the Ministry of Digital Transformation) despite the fact they had been accredited for.
A particular attention was drawn to the attitude of the press secretary of the President Yulia Mendel, who pushed away the journalist, in order not let him to approach her boss. At least three journalists have declared having been experienced such attitude of the presidential spokesperson - Serhiy Andrushko and Christopher Miller from Radio Liberty, and Natalya Shimkiv, journalist of the “Livy Bereh”.
Unethical and offensive behavior of the spokesperson of the head of state was highly criticized by the journalistic community, several associations made its statements. In its statements, the Media Movement and Initiative 34 asked Volodymyr Zelensky to respond to the actions of Yulia Mendel and dismiss her. But the President responded with one phrase, "Did you push anyone, Yulia, didn’t you?"
At the third position, by the number of violations, was the category "cyberattacks" with three cases. That number has decreased compared to August, when five cases were recorded.
However, for the second month in a row, Ukrainian online media are being hacked, and as a result the media came out with fake news. For example, in September, the editorial office of the Lviv city newspaper “Ratusha” reported that a fake news item was published on its site due to hackers, : "A Polish soldier shot dead a Ukrainian soldier in Yavoriv exercises."
In addition, IMI reported on one case of beatings, damage to property and premises of journalists and restrictions on access to public information.
In particular, the cameraman of the Odessa Channel 7 Andriy Kulba became victim of such an attack : someone about whom the TVcrew was filming a story, spayed pepper gas jet into his eye, he suffered burns to both forearms, neck, face and eyes.
IMI reported violations of freedom of expression and rights of journalists in eight regions of Ukraine. Most violations were recorded in Kyiv - 10 cases, followed by Odesa (three), Poltava and Kherson region - two cases for each. In other regions, one case was recorded for each of them.
Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI has recorded one murder, 83 cases of obstruction, 30 cases of threats, 17 cases of beating and 15 cases of cyber attacks.