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Freedom of Speech Barometer for April 2022

06.05.2022, 17:26

In April, IMI has recorded 91 crime in Ukraine. Of these, 85 were committed by russia against the media and journalists in Ukraine. These crimes include murder, shelling of journalists and media offices, threats, harassment, abduction of journalists, cyber attacks on Ukrainian media sites, disabling Ukrainian broadcasting, media outlets shutting down due to russian shelling, inability to work and print newspapers because of infrastructure destruction, and more. At the same time, IMI has recorded six cases of freedom of speech violation for which the Ukrainian side is responsible.

These are the results of the monitoring by the Institute of Mass Information.

For example, in April it became known that the russian military had shot Lithuanian filmmaker and documentarist Mantas Kvedaravičius in blockaded Mariupol. According to the ombudsman, he had been taken prisoner by ruscists, who later shot him. His wife managed to take the filmmaker's body to Lithuania. In 2016, Mantas had made a documentary "Mariupol" about the city, which had been at the forefront of the russian-Ukrainian war the year before. The film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival.

In April, IMI learned that the fate of at least 14 other journalists from Mariupol remained unknown. Since we do not currently have the opportunity to verify what happened to our colleagues, we consider them missing.

In addition, IMI recorded a case of abduction – in the temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka (Kherson region) on April 3, the russian military took away to an undisclosed location a local journalist and writer, editor of the online publication "Nova Kakhovka City" Oleksander Hunko. Prior to that, the journalist's apartment had been searched. A few hours before the arrival of the armed russians, "New Kakhovka City" had published an article about the violent suppression by the occupiers of a peaceful rally in Kakhovka. Hunko was released by the russians on April 6.

IMI also recorded two cases of shelling of journalists. Namely, on April 4, film crew of the American CNN TV channel came under russian artillery fire near Mykolaiv. In another case, Anastasia Volkova, a correspondent for the Dom TV channel, came under fire in the partially occupied Rubizhne, Luhansk region. She was filming the evacuation of people, and at that time the russians opened fire on the place where the evacuation was to begin.

In April, threats from russians being emailed to Ukrainian media outlets and journalists continued. Threatening letters came from the russian mail.ru service and were signed by various users. Journalists were threatened with interrogations, torture, and imprisonment, and later even sent rhymed threats. Such letters have been received by the media of Volyn, Zaporizhia, Mariupol, and Poltava. Kakhovka journalist Oleh Baturyn, who had previously been abducted and held captive by the russians, also reported threats being sent to his family.

The russians also systematically carry out cyber attacks on Ukrainian media websites. In particular, in April, DDoS-attacks on the site "Detector Media" have been recorded, for which the russian hacker group NoName057(16) took responsibility. The hackers called the journalists enemies of russia and said they were attacking them because the media outlet discredited the russian army and circulated russophobic fakes. In Zaporizhzhia, hackers broke the website for students and the youth "Porohy" and posted russian propaganda there. When trying to access the site, a text appeared in russian on the main screen, saying that russians and Ukrainians were "one people who were divided by the Western world" who "put puppets, ridiculous 'rulers,' and drug addicts in power."

russian crimes against journalists and the media have been recorded in 11 regions of Ukraine. Most crimes were recorded in Zaporizhia and Volyn regions, where journalists have mostly received electronic threats.

The situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine, for which the Ukrainian side is responsible

In April, IMI recorded six cases of freedom of speechtion viola in Ukraine, for which the Ukrainian side is responsible. Four of them concerned physical aggression against journalists – obstruction (1) and threats (3).

Among the people threatening journalists in April were representatives of the Moscow Church. Namely, Chernivtsi journalist Halyna Jeremica was threatened by a parishioner of the Moscow Patriarchate during the filming near the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Mykhalcha, Chernivtsi region.

In Chernivtsi, on the eve of Easter, Mykyta Storozhuk, secretary and archimandrite of the Chernivtsi-Bukovynian eparchy (Moscow Patriarchate), threatened to declare war on Serhiy Zaraisky, a journalist and head of the BookInfo news portal, over a publication that mentioned him.

In addition, Kateryna Klochko, a photo correspondent for the Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua, received threats after her Facebook post about an attempt by pseudo-journalists of collaborator Kyryl Stremousov to attend a meeting of volunteers with local authorities on the transparency of humanitarian aid delivery plans.

In addition, IMI experts recorded one case of censorship and legal pressure. Namely, an unprecedented case of censorship is the shutdown of three opposition TV channels – Espreso, Priamyy, and Channel 5. The reasons for the shutdown in the T2 digital network have not been officially announced. Media Movement and the Commission on Journalistic Ethics defended the channels, calling on the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to intervene in the situation with the shutdown of the TV channels, to explain the reasons and restore their broadcasting.

Violations have been reported in five regions. There are two cases in Chernivtsi and the region. In other regions – one case in each: Kyiv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv.

So far since the beginning of the year, IMI has recorded 55 freedom of speech violations, 19 cases of obstruction, nine cases of threats and access restrictions, seven cases of cyber crimes, five cases of physical assault and one case of censorship.

russia's crimes

Murder – 1

1. russians kill Lithuanian documentarist Mantas Kvedaravičius in Mariupol

03.04.2022 In Mariupol, the russian military killed Lithuanian filmmaker and documentarist Mantas Kvedaravičius, as it was reported by "Army Inform," russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, and Lithuanian media.

"Army Inform" notes that the director died as he was trying to leave the city. According to Lithuanian media, his car might have been hit by a missile.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has already expressed his condolences over the death of Kvedaravičius, delfi.lt reports.

"Not only Lithuania, but the whole world has lost a famous artist who, despite the danger, had been working in Ukraine, which was attacked by russia. I wish much, much strength to his family, friends and all those who appreciate Kvedaravičius' talent," said the Lithuanian President.

Later, Ukrainian journalist Albina Lvutina, who had known the filmmaker, said that Mantas Kvedaravičius had been shot dead by the russian troops. "The heartless russian soldiers captured Mantas and killed him. And then just left him out there. His heroic wife did the unbelievable. Under shelling, she was able to find his body in Mariupol and take him to his native Lithuania. It was necessary to keep this information a secret so that she wouldn't be killed herself and that russians wouldn't destroy the body," the journalist wrote. According to her, Mantas died not on April 2, but earlier. At that point, his wife was already trying to take his body away through russia. The death of Kvedaravičius in the occupied Mariupol became known on April 3.

The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova also reported on the circumstances of Mantas Kvedaravičius' death in Mariupol.

According to the Commissioner, he had been taken prisoner by ruscists, who later shot him. "The occupiers threw the filmmaker's body out into the street. His wife, risking her life, took the body out of the blockaded city and brought it to Lithuania. The real cause of the filmmaker's death has not been announced before for the sake of her safety," the statement reads.

Mantas Kvedaravičius was born in 1976. He received a Master's degree in cultural anthropology in Oxford University. In 2011, he made the documentary "Barzah" about the war-torn Chechnya. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and won the Amnesty International Award.

In 2016, he made a documentary "Mariupol" about the city, which had been at the forefront of the russian-Ukrainian war a year before. The film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival.

Disappearances – 14

The fate of at least 14 other journalists from Mariupol remains unknown. IMI is currently unable to verify what happened to our colleagues, so we consider them missing.

Capturing and abduction of journalists – 1

1. Invaders abduct journalist Oleksander Hunko in Kherson region

03.04.2022 On April 3, in Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region, russian invaders abducted and deported Oleksander Hunko, a local journalist and writer, editor of the "Nova Kakhovka City" online media, and took him away in an unknown direction.

The journalist’s daughter Oksana Hunko told it, according to the head of the regional organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine who said it on Facebook.

According to the daughter, prior to that, the journalist's apartment had been searched.

A few hours before the arrival of the armed russians, the publication "New Kakhovka City" had published a story about the violent suppression of a peaceful rally in Kakhovka by the invaders.

Firing at journalists – 2

1. CNN team under russian fire near Mykolaiv

04.04.2022 CNN filming crew came under russian artillery fire on April 4. No one was injured, as CNN reported.

The crew first came under fire at a crossroads the the south of Mykolaiv, near Oleksandrivka village. The journalists' car was damaged.

CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, producer Kareem Khadder, photojournalist John Torigoe, interpreter Valeriia Dubrovska and their team had stopped at the crossroads to speak with a few Ukrainian soldiers.

As Wedeman was filming a standup report there was an explosion approximately 150 meters away from their location. The team hit the ground as another round came in.

"We hugged the ground and then ran for the cars. We jumped in our Mitsubishi Pajero, but it was destroyed. The car wouldn’t start. At least two of the tires were flat. All the windows shattered. The tank was punctured and leaking diesel and other fluids," Wedeman reported. 

The team ran to their other vehicle, which also had damage due to shrapnel, got in and drove off.

We remind that on April 4, there were four fires in the Mykolaiv area as a result of the russian attacks: the granary, the house and cars burned down. Civilians received shrapnel wounds.

2. "Dom" TV channel correspondent comes under russian fire in Rubizhne

28.04.2022 Anastasia Volkova, a correspondent for the "Dom" TV channel, came under fire in the partially occupied Rubizhne, Luhansk region.

As Anastasia told an IMI representative, they arrived in the city on April 28 to film the evacuation of people. At this moment, the russians opened fire on the place where the evacuation was to begin.

“We had just arrived and five minutes later, they started to fire precisely at the square where we were. We crawled into the Palace of Culture on our stomacks, over broken glass, to survive the shelling. We heard the shells hit to the left, to the right, in front, behind the building, and the building itself. We heard a heavy mortar working," said Anastasia.

According to the journalist, she was wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet with PRESS stickers.

She left when she realized that the occupiers had run out of ammunition and had a chance to take advantage of this lull. When the journalist had already arrived in Severodonetsk, she noted that she could hear the shelling resume in Rubizhne.

Persecution of journalists, threats, intimidation – 20

1. Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia

03.04.2022 Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia – the editorial team received three more threatening letters between April 7 and 9.

The team shared this with IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

The letters were sent from the mail.ru service. The emails' topics read: "For reading. IMPORTANT," "Read and think," "Must read." They are yet again about facing criminal responsibility for "spreading fakes and lies."

"All the staff of Ukrainian media and websites who spread fake news and lies about the actions of russian troops on Ukranian territory and cover for the banderites will face criminal prosecution in the nearest future. No one will go unpunished," says the email sent on April 7 by user "Alexander Medvedev."

The next email, from Artem Krasilnikov, recommends the editoial staff to "learn some prison slang, for you have very few moments of freedom left."

On April 9, the team received another letter from Artem Osipov that briefly informs that "every media person spreading propagandist fakes will soon be held accountable with all the severity of russian federation's law."

On April 11, the team received a letter from Artem Krasilnikov again, threatening interrogation and incarceration. The email states that "soon all the journalists who support Zelenskyy’s neonazi regime will be sent to investigating authorities to be questioned and charged, with subsequent deployment to penal facilities."

2. Roskomnadzor threatens to block "Trybun" media after a news report about russian shellings of Rubizhne and Popasna

06.04.2022 Rubizhne newspaper "Trybun" (Luhansk region) received a letter from Roskomnadzor demanding to delete the news report about the shelling of Rubizhne and Popasna by the russian occupiers.

This was announced by the editor-in-chief of "Trybun" Oleksiy Artyukh.

If the editorial office refuses, Roskomnadzor threatens to block the media in russia.

Oleksiy Artyukh notes that "a compromise solution has been proposed." He added a screenshot of the response of the editors, in russian:

“We offer a compromise option. There are two chairs: one with upturned pikes, the other with half-liter bottles. Which one will you sit on, and which one will you seat putin on? Russian warship, go fuck yourself! Glory to Ukraine! With contempt, the editorial board of the socio-political columnist 'Trybun.'"

Despite the fighting in the Luhansk region, 'Trybun' does not stop working and continues to cover events in the region.

3. Two Volyn media outlets receive threats from russia

07.04.2022 Two Volyn media outlets received emails with threats from russia.

The editorial staff of "Volyn Online" and "Konkurent" shared this with the IMI representative.

The letters were sent from the mail.ru email service (banned in Ukraine) and contain threats of criminal prosecution for "fakes and lies about the actions of russian armed forces in Ukraine."

As the editor of the "Volyn Online" news website Maryana Metelska, on April 7 in the afternoon a letter in russian has been sent to the editorial staff's email by the user "Vladislav Yefremov."

This email read: "All the staff of Ukrainian media and websites who spread fake news and lies about the actions of russian troops on Ukranian territory and cover for the banderites will face criminal prosecution in the nearest future. No one will go unpunished."

The journalist told that she has not received such letters before. Maryana Metelska attempted to reply to the letter and advise the sender to follow the russian warship. However, she could not send the email, as an error message popped up that the mail.ua domain address was not found.

The editor of "Konkurent" news agency Andriy Luchik has also received a similar letter. The email was sent by the user "Konstantin Lavrentiev."

The journalist stated that before the letter arrived, a man with a Moscow phone number had called him, offering certain website maintenance services, to which the editor replied, "What do you need, moskalyk?" and sent the man after the russian warship.

4. "Novyny Poltavshchyny" editors receive threats from occupiers via email

07.04.2022 On April 7, the editorial staff of "Novyny Poltavshchyny" communal informational agency received an email threatening criminal accountability for alleged spreading of fake news and lying about the russian troops' actions on Ukraninan territory.

The head of "Novyny Poltavshchyny" Yurii Nikolaev reported this to the IMI representative in Poltava region.

According to him, the editorial staff received the first letter from user "Ilya Nekrasov," the second one – from "Artem Krasilnikov," both sent from mail.ru addresses.

"All the staff of Ukrainian media and websites who spread fake news and lies about the actions of russian troops on Ukranian territory and cover for the banderites will face criminal prosecution in the nearest future. No one will go unpunished," – such message, but written in russian, was sent to the editorial team.

According to the journalist, the editorial team had received such threatening letters before, around 5-6 times in total.

"I tried to tell them to follow the russian warship's course, but the email would not go through. I tried twice," said Yurii Nikolaev.

5. Volyn media keeps receiving threats from russia

11.04.2022 Volyn's "Konkurent TV" channel and "Volyn Online" website received threatening emails sent from russia. The emails contain "recommendations" concerning the journalists' responsibility for covering the actions of the aggressor state and its army.

The media's editors shared this with IMI's representative in Volyn oblast.

As "Konkurant TV" editor Oleksandra Kruteyeva stated, on April 8 the editorial email address received a letter from user "Nikolai Petukhov." The letter contained a message in russian: "Soon all the journalists and media persons will have to answer according to all the severity of russian law, because russian troops are already moving towards Kyiv. I recommend you learn some prison slang, for you have few moments of freedom left."

The "Volyn Online" editor Maryana Metelska received a similar letter on April 8. On April 9, she received the thrid threatening letter. "For spreading misleading information about the actions of russian troops and promoting Zelenskyy's regime, all journalists will face criminal responsibility with subsequent deployment to penal facilities," the email says.

On April 11, Maryana Metelska received the fourth letter from russians. This letter, written in russian by user "Artem Krasilnikov," was threatening that all journalists who support Zelenskyy's "neonazi" regime will be sent for questioning and charged, with subsequent deployment to penal facilities."

We remind that on April 7, two Volyn media outlets – "Konkurent" and "Volyn Online" information agencies – received threatening emails sent from russia. In these emails, journalists are threatened with criminal responsibility for "fakes and lies about the actions of russian armed forces in Ukraine."

6. Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia

11.04.2022 Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia – the editorial team received three more threatening letters between April 7 and 9.

The team shared this with IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

The letters were sent from the mail.ru service. The emails' topics read: "For reading. IMPORTANT," "Read and think," "Must read." They are yet again about facing criminal responsibility for "spreading fakes and lies."

"All the staff of Ukrainian media and websites who spread fake news and lies about the actions of russian troops on Ukranian territory and cover for the banderites will face criminal prosecution in the nearest future. No one will go unpunished," says the email sent on April 7 by user "Alexander Medvedev."

The next email, from Artem Krasilnikov, recommends the editoial staff to "learn some prison slang, for you have very few moments of freedom left."

On April 9, the team received another letter from Artem Osipov that briefly informs that "every media person spreading propagandist fakes will soon be held accountable with all the severity of russian federation's law."

On April 11, the team received a letter from Artem Krasilnikov again, threatening interrogation and incarceration. The email states that "soon all the journalists who support Zelenskyy’s neonazi regime will be sent to investigating authorities to be questioned and charged, with subsequent deployment to penal facilities."

7. Journalists from Zaporizhzhia's inform.zp.ua website receive threats of interrogation and incarceration sent from rf

12.04.2022 More than six messages with threats were sent from russia to the editorial email address of Zaporizhzhia’s inform.zp.ua website, as well as to its chief editor Erik Brynza privately, from April 6 to 11. Some of the emails are written in verse.

Eric Brynza shared this with IMI’s representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

According to him, the editorial email account received two such letters lately. The first one is from "Artem Osipov," the second one from "Artem Krasilnikov." Both letters were sent from mail.ru addresses on April 8 and 11 respectively. In these emails, the authors are threatening the editors’ team with criminal prosecution in accordance with russian federation’s laws on "promoting fakes," "supporting Zelenskyy’s neonazi regime," and "spreading misinformation about the actions of russian army."

According to the website’s editor, he received four private messages with threats via Telegram on April 6, 7, 8, and 9. All were sent from russian phone numbers, two were written in verse and contained threats about criminal prosecution, interrogations, and incarceration. For example, one message reads: "Deceiving the public with your agenda, spreading fakes for your propaganda, don’t you get a suspicion that Zelenskyy is a liar? Are you ready, through capitulation, with penal institutions as the place of your emigration, to meet such a shameful end?" The private messages also repeatedly state that all the journalists who "support Zelenskyy’s neonazi regime" will be sent "to investigating authorities to be questioned and charged, with subsequent deployment to penal facilities."

8. russians keep threatening Volyn journalists

13.04.2022 "Konkurent" news agency and "Volyn Online" website received threatening emails from russia again.

The media's editorial teams shared this with IMI representative in Volyn region.

Namely, on April 11, "Konkurent" editorial email address received a letter from user "Artem Krasilnikov" written in russian. The letter threatens interrogation and incarceration upon all journalists who support Zelenskyy's "neonazi" regime.

On April 13, "Volyn Online" editor Maryana Metelska received a rhymed email in russian with such contents:

Prepare to change your microphone

Prepare to change your camera

For obscene criminal jargon

And a dirty prison chamber.

We remind that in April, several threatening emails have been sent to the editorial staff of the "Konkurent" website, "Konkurent TV" channel, and "Volyn Online."

9. "Volyn Online" editorial staff receives poem-threats from rf

15.04.2022 "Volyn Online" website editor Maryana Metelska received the sixth threatening letter from russia.

She shared this with the IMI representative in Volynska oblast.

On April 15, the editorial email address received a message from user "Alexei Sazonov" written in russian and containing the following poem:

russian troops are liberators

Their operation saves lives and stability

And you, propaganda spreaders,

Will not escape criminal responsibility.

We remind that on April 13 the editor of the "Volyn Online" website Maryana Metelska received a poem via email that contained threats of incarceration.

Earlier, threatening emails have been sent to the editorial staff of the "Konkurent" website, "Konkurent TV" channel, "Volyn Online," and Racurs.ua.

10. Zaporizhzhia 061.ua website editors also receive poem-threats from rf

15.04.2022 Editors of Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua received new threats about incarceration of journalists. This time the threats, written in verse, were sent on April 13 and 15.

The website's staff shared this with the IMI representative.

The April 13 email, signed "Artem Osipov" and sent from a mail.ru address, reads: "Prepare to change your microphone, prepare to change your camera for obscene criminal jargon and a dirty prison chamber!"

Shortly after, on April 15, the editors received one more letter from Alexei Sazonov with the call "Think carefully!" and a different rhyme: "Deceiving the public with your agenda, spreading fakes for your propaganda, don’t you get a suspicion that Zelenskyy is a liar? Are you ready, through capitulation, with penal institutions as the place of your emigration, to meet such a shameful end."

We remind that on April 15 the "Volyn Online" website editor Maryana Metelska received the sixth threatening email from russia, in verse this time.

Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia: four emails threatening incarceration have been sent to the staff on April 7 to 11.

11. Volyn journalist receives 11 incarceration threats from rf during the month

16.04.2022 Since March 15, "Racurs.ua" journalist Yurii Konkevych has received 11 emails that contained incarceration threats.

He has shared this with the IMI representative in the Volyn region.

According to the journalist, he had first received rhymed threats from user "Alexei Sazonov" on April 15.

"Deceiving the public with your agenda, spreading fakes for your propaganda, don’t you get a suspicion that Zelenskyy is a liar? Are you ready, through capitulation, with penal institutions as the place of your emigration, to meet such a shameful end?"

The  journalist noted that earlier, the editorial staff's email address had received messages stating that virtually every article on the website where he works constituted violation of several articles of the Criminal Code of rf.

We remind that on April 15, the editor of the "Volyn Online" website Maryana Metelska received the sixth threatening email sent from russia. Such emails have also been sent by different users to the editorial staff of "Konkurent" website and "Konkurent TV" channel.

12. russian occupiers threaten Oleh Baturyn's family

16.04.2022 "Novy den" (Kakhovka, Kherson region) journalist Oleh Baturyn reported that the russian occupiers are threatening his family members that stayed on the temporarily occupied territory.

Baturyn shared this on April 16 on his Facebook page.

"My relatives that stayed on the temporarily occupied territory began to receive threats. Such 'regards' are being passed to them from the russian occupiers. My family is very scared. The russians demand that I cease my professional work in journalism," the journalist wrote.

As IMI has reported, on March 12, Oleh Baturyn, a journalist from Kakhovka (Kherson region) had gone missing. He had been released on March 20.

Law enforcers began criminal proceedings for alleged abduction of Oleh Baturyn by the russian occupiers in Kherson region. The case has been opened for violation of laws and customs of warfare (Article 438 p. 1 of the CC of Ukraine).

Oleh Baturyn is convinced that he had been abducted and held captive for eight days because of his journalist work and active citizenship.

13. Zaporizhzhia's 061.ua website threatened with tribunal yet again

17.04.2022 Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua keeps receiving threats from russia – a new email to the editors arrived on April 17.

The editorial staff reported this to IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

The email has been sent by "Nikolai Petukhov" from a mail.ru address. Again, it threatens the journalists that russia is going to occupy large Ukrainian cities very quickly and the media is going face a tribunal.

"After russia occupies all Ukrainian cities, it will establish a war tribunal for everybody who supported the nazis' regime led by Zelenskyy. All journalists will be held accountable for spreading fakes about the rf and promoting the ukronazi regime," the letter says.

14. Mariupol 0629.com.ua receives threats about imprisonment in Siberia

20.04.2022 The editorial staff of Mariupol city website 0629.com.ua received an email threatening them with imprisonment in Siberia. The website's editor Anna Murlykina reported this.

She posted a screenshot. The letter was sent from [email protected] address by user "Dima Burov."

"If you are not afraid of RF FBS's penal colonies in Siberian federal district, you may keep promoting the Ukrainian regime. But prepare some warm clothes at least, for your lengthy vacation to jail is going to be a cold one!" the letter reads.

In her comment, Anna Murlykina told IMI representative that they were receiving similar emails every day. Sometimes several messages a day. They are being sent from different email addresses.

The editorial staff has informed the SSU about this, and the SSU has investigated the addresses from which the emails are being sent. Most of them are tied to russian phone numbers and already blocked.

Murlykina says that usually these letters contain obscene language and open aggression, and this one is different in content and tone, so she decided to share it on her social media.

We remind that on April 16, the 0629 editorial staff reported that they had been under constant cyber attacks for the last three weeks. russian hackers tried to change the website's logo into a russian flag.

15. RIA-Melitopol editor has been receiving threats from rf for three weeks

25.04.2022 Svitlana Zalizetska, editor of "Holovna Hazeta Melitopola" and the RIA-Melitopol website, has been receiving threats in comments and private messages for three weeks now. She told this to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

According to her, threats have been incoming for at least the last three weeks via email, private messages. The editor is also receiving threats via phone calls from unknown numbers.

The letters provided by Svitlana Zalizetska to IMI refer to the same threats of interrogation, torture, and imprisonment that the Zaporizhzhia websites 061.ua and inform.zp.ua systematically receive from russia. They traditionally speak of accountability for fakes and misinformation about the actions of the russian army in accordance with the russian law. Journalists are also advised to "learn prison jargon," threatened with tribunals and being sent to "correctional facilities" for "supporting the Nazis."

"It's a small part of what we get every day. They are simply spamming us from the territories controlled by the russian federation, from russia, and also collaborators have joined them. Basically, they are trying to pressure us psychologically," Svitlana Zalizetska said.

Also, according to the editor, some threats come in the comments from unknown people under their social media posts. They usually contain abusive devaluing vocabulary and threats about the journalist's health and life, such as: "... If because of you (curse word) a Tochka from the UAF strikes at the city, then wherever you and your grandfather live, I will take care of you and kill you myself (curse word)." The same comments contain threats about the journalist's father.

We remind that the russian occupants in Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia region) took hostage the father of Svitlana Zalizetska, editor of "Holovna Hazeta Melitopola" and the RIA-Melitopol website, on March 23. They demanded a meeting with the journalist as a condition for her father's release. However, on March 25, the russian invaders released her father from captivity.

16. Volyn media starts receiving threats from russian NoName hackers

24.04.2022 Volyn media outlets "Volyn Online," "Konkurent," and "Konkurent TV" received new threats via email. This time, the senders signed as group NoName057(16).

This is reported by IMI representative in Volyn region.

Namely, on April 24, the editors received letters in russian with the following content:

"V is for VICTORY, Z is for OURZ, game's over for you and your lying propagandist mouths."

On April 25, the editorial team received another poem:

"Once there was a little journalist, a propagandist, a conformist. And his fascist nazi of a daddy was a comedian and a drug addict. For the dad there was always a lot to be done: to gather his gang, do a shelling or two, for the son to note it all down, go online and post the hullabaloo. It has been going on for some months in a row, and all around, lies and swastikas have grown. Daddy was very glad you could not go back. But soon came liberators, fascism fighters and truth proliferators, with one hand they captured the fascist father, and his little son they grabbed with the other. Think carefully, journalists, apply all your reason – neither you nor zelenskyy will evade prison!"

Earlier, the media outlet had received threats of interrogation an imprisonment.

We remind that on April 22, "Detector Media" was targeted by hackers: the site sustained DDoS attacks. The group NoName057(16) claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. The hackers called them enemies of russia and said they were attacking because the publication was "discrediting the russian army and spreading russophobic fakes."

The editors of Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua have also received threats from the NoName hacker group.

17. Zaporizhzhia's 061.ua website receives threats from russian NoName hackers

25.04.2022 On April 25, the editorial office of Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua received another rhymed threatening email from the russian federation.

This was reported to IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region by the website's staff.

Threats came from mail.ru from user "Sasha Isayev." The letter also contained a link to the Telegram channel of the NoName hacker group.

Namely, the message states: "Once there was a little journalist, a propagandist, a conformist. And his fascist nazi of a daddy was a comedian and a drug addict. For the dad there was always a lot to be done: to gather his gang, do a shelling or two, for the son to note it all down, go online and post the hullabaloo. It has been going on for some months in a row, and all around, lies and swastikas have grown. Daddy was very glad you could not go back. But soon came liberators, fascism fighters and truth proliferators, with one hand they captured the fascist father, and his little son they grabbed with the other. Think carefully, journalists, apply all your reason – neither you nor zelenskyy will evade prison!"

18. "Volyn Online" editors receive the 10th email with threats

28.04.2022 The editorial office of "Volyn Online" has already received 10 emails with threats from "russian world" advocates. The senders have signed as NoName057(16) group.

The media's editor Maryana Metelska shared this with the IMI representative in Volyn region.

According to her, the latest letter was received today, on April 28. Earlier, several letters have been sent in verse.

"We, the hacker group NoName057(16), warn you and other representatives of your 'media:' unless you stop the surge of fakes about the russian federation, we will keep downing your website. You will have to answer for all your crimes according to the law. Think before it's too late," the letter said.

At the same time, Metelska noted that there were no problems with the website or DDoS attacks.

19. russian hackers threaten to "down the websites" of Zaporizhzhia media

28.04.2022 Two Zaporizhzhia websites, infоrm.zp.ua and 061.ua, began receiving threats from the hacker group Noname057(16). The letters came from inbox.ru and list.ru email services. In the letters, the attackers threaten to hack the media websites.

This was reported to the IMI representative in Zaporizhia region by the staff of the media outlets.

According to the infоrm.zp.ua editor-in-chief Eric Brynza, the threatening letter arrived at the editorial inbox on April 28. The subject of the letter stated: "Important info." "We, the hacker group NoName057(16), warn you and all other employees of your 'media:' until you stop the onslaught of fakes about the russian federation, we will keep downing your website. You will have to answer for all your crimes. Think before it's too late," the letter said.

The 061.ua editorial inbox received a letter from "Cheslava Solovei" on April 30. The content of the letter was even shorter: “You didn't get it the first time – we'll say it again. We will keep downing your websites if you do not stop the pipeline of fakes about russia."

Currently, both websites are functioning.

20. russian hackers threaten to "down" the websites of Volyn media as well

30.04.2022 Volyn media continue to receive threats from the Noname057(16) hacker group. The letters have been received by Volyn Online, Racurs.ua, and Konkurent news agency on April 30.

This was reported by the website's editors to the IMI representative in Volyn region.

The letters were sent from the list.ru mail service, written in russian, and contained the following: “You didn't get it the first time – we'll say it again. We will keep downing your websites if you do not stop the pipeline of fakes about russia."

Andriy Luchyk, editor of the Konkurent news agency's website, told the IMI representative that a DDoS attack had been carried out on the website on the evening of May 1. The attack on the website was quickly repelled.

The editor of the Volyn Online website, Maryana Metelska, said that there had been no DDoS attacks on the website yet. The website works as usual.

We remind that similar letters from the Noname057(16) hacker group have also been received by two Zaporizhzhia websites – infоrm.zp.ua and 061.ua.

Seizure and attacks on media offices – 1

1. Suspilne's Mykolaiv branch suffered a missile strike by russian troops

20.04.2022 The night before Arpil 21, during a missile strike on Mykolaiv, russian troops hit the local branch of Suspilne broadcaster.

The branch's management reports this.

No person was killed or injured.

"Suspilne Mykolaiv" continues its work and keeps promptly informing its audience about everything happening in the city and the region.

Cyber crimes – 8

1. Chernihiv city website 0462.ua targeted with DDoS attack

01.04.2022 The editorial office of the Chernihiv city website 0462.ua reported about a DDoS attack on its resource on the morning of April 1. 

This was reported by the resource on its Facebook page.

"Since the morning our information web resource has been under a powerful DDoS attack. Obviously, our texts hounded the enemy from behind the border. To protect the website, the support service has limited the access for users from outside Ukraine for some time. So, if you visit the site from European or other countries, access to it will be limited. Sorry for the inconvenience, we are working to restore the site as soon as possible and complete for all users," the statement says.

The resource has been actively covering the developments of russia's armed aggression on the territory of Ukraine, recording the crimes of the occupants in Chernihiv region since February 24, 2022.

The site is one of the five most visited in the region.

2. Kropyvnytsky media Zlatopil reports an attempt to "down" their website

01.04.2022 Kropyvnytsky news portal Zlatopil was targeted with a cyber attack, causing disfunction and temporary loss of access to the resource.

This was reported to the regional representative of IMI in Kirovohrad region by the editor of the publication Olena Shenderovska.

"On the night of March 31 to April 1, there was an attempt to hack the site, overloading our server. It is difficult to establish where the attack was launched from, because the attackers used proxy servers. So far, the site has been restored," Shenderovskaya said. 

The editor stressed that since the beginning of the full-scale war of russia against Ukraine, the publication pays special attention to cybersecurity to protect the site from possible hacking and loss of information.

As IMI reported, at the end of March the Kropyvnytskyi edition of Photoinform was attacked by DDoS , as a result of which some of the already published materials were lost.

3. Radio Track undergoing systematic DDoS attacks

05.04.2022 Rivne's most popular media, Radio Track, has been under systematic DDoS attacks since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine.

Mykola Kulchynskyy, editor-in-chief of Radio Track, told IMI about this. 

Radio Track users are often unable to access the page – an error message pops up in the browser.

According to Mykola Kulchynsky, the attack is targeting the Lviv server. The site is failing as powerful attacks are on. The most often, the editorial board is unable to publish materials. Currently, the IT specialists try to fix the problem.

"We have had problems since the beginning of the war. That is, at least since the beginning of March, it happened in outbreaks. Last time, they were very bad. They were such that we had to switched off. You prepare the story, you prepare it, but you can't make it public. You put it, but no one reads it. It was in a different kinds, but these recent days it was simply impossible to work. This is an obstacle to journalistic activity, because we cannot work properly," Mykola Kulchynsky said.

The media is still working. In addition, according to the service "Similarweb," in February, hits rose to more than 2 million.

4. "Rivne Vechirne" website attacked almost three hundred times since the beginning of the full-scale war

12.04.2022 "Rivne Vechirne" website has sustained 249 cyber attacks between February 24 and April 12. Most of the attacks came from Chinese and russian territory.

"Rivne Vechirne" chief editor Bohdan Slonets reported this to IMI.

According to him, 95% of the attacks were repelled, but the perpetrators managed to make the website unavailable for a short while due to DOS and DDoS attacks. The website was down for 24 minutes total. The attacks mostly created issues in uploading content.

"89 attacks were the 'scan' kind, the ones that scan your website to find code vulnerabilities and a way to upload shell and viruses. 158 were DDoS attacks, mostly coming from China – 37%, russia – 34%, TOR network – 16%, Ukraine – 6%, Germany – 4%, and less than 3% from other countries," Bohdan Slonets said.

The website also sustained two direct mass attacks on the VDS (virtual dedicated server) where the website is hosted.

According to the website's editor, the attacks happen when the media reports on the threat of invasion from belarus that borders Rivne region.

According to "Similarweb" platform, in March the website's attendance has grown significantly and now constitutes 2 million visitors.

We remind that the most popular media outlet in Rivne region, "Radio Track," also undergoes constant attacks.

5. Mariupol's website 0629 is under cyber attacks, rf tries to change the logo into the russian flag

15.04.2022 Mariupol city website 0629 has been under continuous cyberattacks for the past three weeks. russian hackers tried to change the website's logo into rf's flag.

The periodical's webside reported this.

According to it, the website is being attacked from tens of countries around the globe, including russia. Not only the Mariupol website, but also other websites of the CitySites network are targeted.

The tech support had had to temporarily block access to the website for users from some countries in order to stop the attacks and stabilize the website's work.

The editorial staff had made the website acessible again on April 14, but at night it was attacked again.

"This time the diversion had to do with the website's logo. It has been deleted together with some other images. The russians tried to change our logo into a russian tricolor! At the moment there is very little information about who did this and how. The tech support team is working on repairs.

We promise: no symbol of Mariupol will disappear. You can not just 'delete it from the page.' Because 0629 is not about pictures and logos. It is about people. And these people will be working and spreading the truth about the city no matter how much trouble that is for our enemy – the russian federation," the periodical writes.

The editorial team encouraged everybody to support them by giving them attention.

We remind that since March 1 Mariupol has been beseiged by russian troops which have ruined it almost completely by air bombing and artillery fire.  The Ukrainian military units are resisting them and trying to hold their ground in the city.

6. "Detector Media" under DDoS-attack

22.04.2022 "Detector Media" was attacked by hackers on April 22: the website is still under a DDoS attack. This was reported by "Detector Media" NGO's project Media Sapiens.

The administrator notes a large number of attempts to log in to the website at the same time. The tech support department is working to restore the website.

The editors apologize for the temporary inconvenience.

At the same time, the "Media Sapiens" and "DM Suspilnoho" websites continue to operate. You can read "Detector Media" on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

As of 3.30 pm, the "Detector Media" website is down.

According to Otar Dovzhenko, editor-in-chief of Detector Media, the group NoName057(16) claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. The hackers called them enemies of russia and said they were attacking because the publication discredited the russian army and was spreading russophobic fakes.

7. russians hack Zaporizhzhia's "Porohy" website and post their propaganda there

24.04.2022 A Zaporizhzhia website for students and the youth "Porohy" has been hacked on April 24, with russian propaganda being posted there. This was reported to IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region by the website's staff.

When you try to access the website, a message in russian appears on the home page: "Information about the russian federation's ongoing special operation" with two flags, Ukrainian and russian, on the background.

The text, in particular, said that the russians and Ukrainians "are one people whom the Western world divided" and "put in power puppets, ridiculous 'rulers' and drug addicts." The message also stressed that "russia is not fighting against you, but for you." The authors appealed to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to lay down their arms and called on the civilian population not to take up arms so that they don't "sacrifice themselves at the encouragement from people with no honor or conscience." In addition, the appeal stressed that for russia, Ukraine is "an integral part of our own history, culture, spiritual landscape," mentioning that Ukrainians are "family, related to us through blood and family ties.

The site is currently down and the promotional message is no longer available to the public.

8. LIGA.net website under DDoS attack

25.04.2022 LIGA.net website suffered a DDoS attack on April 25. The media reported this on its Telegram channel.

Due to the DDoS attack, the website temporarily went down.

"Friends, our website is currently down due to intense DDoS attacks. Our specialists are working to solve the problem. You can follow the latest news on our Telegram channel," the editorial team said.

As of 1 p.m., the website has resumed its work.

On April 22, "Detector Media" was targeted by hackers: the site sustained DDoS attacks. The group NoName057(16) claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. The hackers called them enemies of russia and said they were attacking because the publication was "discrediting the russian army and spreading russophobic fakes."

Blocking online access to media – 1

1. russia blocks access to several Ukrainian media websites

17.04.2022 The website of "Institure of Mass Information" CO has been banned in russia by the Procecutor General's office.

This is stated in the banned websites register.

According to the register, the decision has been approved on April 12 and the first block occurred on April 17.

According to the "Roskomsvoboda" project, rf has also banned access to the websites of the "Human Rights Watch" organization and some Ukrainian media: dev.ua, “Apostrof”, “Censor”, “Hromadske radio”, “Hazeta.ua”, “Segodnia”, MigNews, etc. 

The rf's Procecutor General's office banned 24 websites in total, including IMI, adding the link to the article "on civillian evacuation issues and the actions of the russian army during the 'special military operation'" to the register.

Since the ban is carried out through HTTPS, many russian operators lose access to the website altogether, "Roskomsvoboda" states.

"These and other news websites were added to the register by the 'mask,' so the access restriction affects all their domains and subdomains," the project noted.

As IMI has reported, in January 2021 the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), in accordance with the Prosecutor Genreal's demand, blocked access to the Institute of Mass Information's website on the russian federation's territory because of a news report that allegedly contained "calls for mass disruptions and extremist actions." The report in question dates back to August 18, 2016: "Russia blocks Hromadske TV interview with a 'Hizb-ut-Tahrir' representative."

Shutdown of Ukrainian broadcasting – 2

1. Occupiers launch their propagandist radio in Enerhodar

10.04.2022 In the temporarily occupied city of Enerhodar,  Zaporizhzhia region, the russian occupiers started broadcasting "Radio russia."

This was reported on April 10 on the Telegram channel of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration.

"In Enerhodar, the enemy managed to create a "Radio russia," through which they spread false and distorted information, hostile propaganda, and broadcast songs that glorify putin and the greatness of russia," the statement says.

It is also reported that the occupants are spreading propagandist photos where they distribute alleged humanitarian aid from russia to retirees in the city. "Judging by the photos, the products were delivered only to four people," the RSA reports.

As IMI reported, in March, after the russian occupation, the local Enerhodar television (ENTS) (Energodar Television Systems) announced the forced cessation of broadcasting.

2. Occupiers broadcast their TV channels and radio in Dniprorudne, Zaporizhzhia region

25.04.2022 In the temporarily occupied Dniprorudne, Zaporizhzhia region, the russian occupiers have began jamming Ukrainian television channels and launched the broadcasts of eight russian TV channels and three radio stations.

This was reported on Enerhodar city's official Telegram channel.

In particular, Mayak radio is broadcast – one of the most powerful Kremlin propaganda mouthpieces.

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration confirmed to journalists that the occupiers were trying to broadcast russian television and radio in all temporarily occupied territories. According to the ZRMA, in Dniprorudny, the russian occupants installed a digital transmitter for TV and radio signals, which broadcasts ruscist TV channels and Mayak radio.

Media the shutdown of which due to the russian occupation became known in April – 35. These includes media in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zakarpattia, Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnytskyy, Odesa, Poltava, Mykolaiv regions, and Chernivtsi.

Donetsk region: Anti-crisis media center in Kramatorsk

Zakarpattia region: "Uzhgorod" newspaper.

Luhansk region: "Siverskyy Donets" crisis mediacenter.

Lviv region: "Zoria" newspaper.

Mykolaiv region: "Vecherniy Nikolaev," "Yuzhnaya Pravda," "Nikolayevskie novosti," "Promin," "Ridne Prybuzhzhia," "Berezan," "Holos Bashtanshchyny," "Ochakiv," "Visty Snihurivshchyny," "Den za Dnem," "Vpered," "Nove zhyttia," "Peremoha," "Prybusky visnyk" newspapers.

Odesa region: TRC "Odesa Life."

Poltava: "Hadiatsky visnyk" newspaper.

Kharkiv region: "Visnyk Velykoburluchyny," "Visnyk Kupyanshchyny," "Visnyk Balakliivshchyny," "Visti Barvinkivshchyny," "Dvorichansky  kray," "Obrii Izyumshchyny," "Trudova slava" newspapers, TRC "Sokil," "Objektyv" media group, TRC ATN, "Nakypilo" radio.

Khmelnytsky region: "Starkon City" newspaper, "Aktualno" (Aktualno dlya podolyan) newspaper.

Chernivtsi: "Chernivtsi!" newspaper.

The situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine for which the Ukrainian side is responsible

Physical aggression

Obstruction – 1

1. Ochakiv mayor bans Suspilne journalists from visiting the town

02.04.2022 Suspilne Mykolaiv correspondents were not let into Ochakov (Mykolaiv region) by the order of the mayor Serhiy Bychkov.

The broadcaster reported about it on their Telegram channel.

Journalists were not allowed to enter Ochakiv despite having accreditation from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and permits to film.

At the checkpoint, Suspilne's car was stopped by the military and the mayor was called to get permission for journalists to enter Ochakiv.

However, the military told reporters that they could not let them into the city on Serhiy Bychkov's orders.

The channel's correspondent Valentyna Hurova called the mayor to find out the reason why the film crew was denied passage into the city. But Serhiy Bychkov refused to talk to the journalists, noting that he did not know them, and offered to meet in Mykolayiv when he arrived, after which he hung up. The channel published a recording of the conversation on their Telegram channel.

Journalist Valentyna Hurova reported to IMI representative in Mykolaiv region that they will appeal to the authorities with the corresponding statement on violation.

Threats – 3

1. russian church parishioner threatens Chernivtsi journalist Halyna Yeremitsa with a brick

10.04.2022 Chernivtsi journalist Halyna Yeremitsa was threatened by a parishioner of the Moscow Patriarchate during the filming of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Mykhalcha, Chernivtsi region.

She announced this on her Facebook page.

As Halyna told IMI, the incident occurred on April 10 during a conflict between a priest and parishioners of the Moscow Patriarchate with the religious community of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. On that day, the religious community of the OCU was opening their church, which the MP considers their own. But, the journalist added, back on February 10, 2019, at the Religious Community Meeting, a decision was made to transfer the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the MP to the OCU.

According to the journalist, at first, the parishioner Fedko Georgy Mykolaiovych wanted to crush her equipment, and then, in the presence of police, attempted to throw a brick at her twice during the live stream.

"This person, in front of almost a hundred armed policemen, tried to hit me with a brick twice while I was holding a live stream!!! At first he wanted to break my streaming equipment when I was filming the MP parishioners trying to demolish the fence and break into the church – I immediately left, and then he attempted to throw a brick at me twice in front of the armed police!!! " Halyna Yeremitsa wrote on Facebook.

She told IMI that she had written a statement to the police about obstructing journalistic activities.

2. 061.ua photo correspondent receives threats over a post about "Stremousov's journalists"

13.04.2022 Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua photo correspondent Kateryna Klochko reported receiving threats after her Facebook post about the attempt of pseudo-journalists of collaborator Kyryl Stremousov to get to the volunteer's meeting with local authorities on the transparency of humanitarian aid delivery plans.

The journalist reported about it to IMI representative in the Zaporizhzhia region.

According to Kateryna, she had written a post about this meeting on April 5, after which she received threats about her personal details being leaked.

"I wrote a post stating that people who had previously presented themselves as 'Stremousov's journalists' tried to attend this meeting between volunteers and the government officials on humanitarian aid to the ZRMA (Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration). Namely, it was Kostiantyn Kirichenko. It's easy to verify: videos of him posing as a 'Stremousov's journalist' have been posted on Serhiy Barskiy's YouTube channel. Our journalists know that in March 2022, Kirill Stremousov was in absentia notified of suspicion of treason for cooperation with the occupiers in Kherson. Volunteer Yulia, who was present at the meeting, demanded that a group of people, including Kostiantyn Kyrychenko, be allowed into the ZRMA building. I do not know Kostiantyn Kyrychenko nor Yulia personally," the photojournalist said.

According to Kateryna, people who called themselves journalists could not attend the meeting and were not allowed to enter the building. The photojournalist herself was not present at the meeting, but has watched the video recording of it.

The next day, Kateryna Klochko received two personal voice messages on Instagram from a user under the nickname ____yuliyaa_ who said that she was waiting for comments and explanations from the journalist about "the slander you wrote about me." The author of the message reminded the journalist that "such things are criminally punishable." The second message said that "all the comments on Facebook that you deleted are recorded on video." "I am also waiting for an explanation about the escobars, some groups, separatists, etcetera," the statement said.

Later, the journalist received two more messages from the same user demanding explanations.

"The thing is, there are no accusations against Yulia or anyone else in my post, so I do not understand what kind of 'slander' we are talking about, for which I am also threatened with criminal responsibility. I did not ask anyone for Yulia's address or anyone else's of those who were present near the ZRMA building or at the meeting on April 4. Maybe Yulia has mistaken me for someone, because in the messages, she also accuses me of deleting comments on Facebook, although I did not delete any of my comments under my post, and the comments about 'escobars and some groups' do not belong to me. Moreover, the accusations about the posts on my personal Facebook page being paid for are baseless," said Kateryna Klochko.

According to the journalist, on April 6 on Instagram, a user under the nickname staraya_zhenshina shared a story by ____yuliyaa_ containing voice messages and threatening to leak her personal details. In particular, they said: “Bear responsibility for your words!!! Or people will personally 'charge' you for your words, and believe me, your address and all the information about you is not so difficult to find!!! So far, I'm posting it this way, and if there are no answers – I will publish all your personal details, phone number, your home address and place of registration!! You will find your number here."

According to Kateryna, on April 11, she applied to the SSU with all the evidence. The police are currently investigating the threats to the journalist and promise to provide information on the state of affairs later.

It will be recalled that on March 4, Kirill Stremousov threatened "dissidents" in occupied Kherson with russian imprisonment. He also staged the interrogation of "Ukrainian activist" Oleksandr Tarasov.

On March 13, Kherson blogger-collaborator Kirill Stremousov was in absentia notified of suspicion of treason (Part 1 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). He was also in absentia notified of suspicion of treason committed by a group of persons upon prior conspiracy (Part 2 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). According to the investigation, on March 16, 2022, the suspect, acting with accomplices in the interests of the aggressor country, held an illegal meeting of the pseudo-government created by the occupiers, the Rescue Committee "For Peace and Order."

Back in 2020, the Commission on Journalistic Ethics announced a public condemnation of the Tavria News agency director, Kirill Stremousov, for the mass distribution of journalistic certificates to outsiders.

Konstantin Kirichenko is a Zaporizhzhia activist, an associate of Kherson collaborator Kirill Stremousov. Kirichenko calls himself either a journalist with the Tavria News agency, ID cards for which have been on sale for 600 hryvnias, or an authorized representative of the territorial community.

According to the IMI representative, the latter title comes from a part of the pro-russian destructive "community movement" that emerged in Ukraine before the Revolution of Dignity and was actively supported by Viktor Medvedchuk's "Ukrainian Choice."

3. Moscow priest declares war on BookInfo editor

25.04.2022 On Easter eve, Secretary-Archimandrite of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy (Moscow Patriarchate) Mykyta Storozhuk threatened to wage war against Serhiy Zaraisky, a journalist and editor of the BookInfo information portal, BookInfо reports.

During a phone conversation, Storozhuk tried to provoke the journalist, demanded to meet him and asked where the portal's editorial office was located. When he heard a refusal again, he became angry and "declared war" on Serhiy Zaraisky.

The phone call, in particular, was preceded by a post on the BookInfo portal. "The day before the war, the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna eparchy hosted a ruscist propagandist and 'enemy of Nazis' Sergei Mudrov. There was also talk of Osachuk." The article, in particular, refers to an interview that Storozhuk gave to a pro-russian Belarusian propagandist.

In view of what Storozhuk had said during the phone call, Serhiy Zarayskyi publicly appealed to the Security Service of Ukraine to consider these threats as a direct interference with the journalist's professional activity and to inform BookInfo about the measures taken.

In a comment to IMI representative, BookInfo editor Serhiy Zaraiskyi said that Storozhuk was attempting a kind of provocation.

"The call was preceded by a series of publications on the portal, mostly reposts. Personally, I do not know Nikita Storozhuk, but I know that he is a very odious figure of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. He is a conflict-prone man, constantly at war with journalists. Our conversation lasted 15 minutes. During this time, he tried to convince me 10 times that we should definitely meet after the holidays. I flatly refused, telling him that I was not going to meet with an adherent of the Kremlin church in Ukraine. So Storozhuk began to say that he was critical of the activities of the head of the Chernivtsi RSA, believed that Osachuk (Serhiy Osachuk, head of the Chernivtsi Regional State Administration. – Ed.) was failing in his duties, and that he had a lot of information to share with me. He wanted to agree to a meeting and somehow make me curious. When I refused again, Storozhuk realized that the provocation was not successful and began to lose his temper. It was obvious from the tone of the conversation, the violent screaming. At the end of the conversation, Storozhuk said that he was declaring war on me, and hung up," said Serhiy Zaraysky.

The journalist notes that he would not have taken threats so seriously if it wasn't for the war, the role of the Moscow Patriarchate in Bukovyna, and possible provocations on their part.

The journalist also said that since the beginning of the full-scale war, he had received two phone calls from russian numbers, with the people calling offering him to cooperate and pressuring him, noting that they knew where his family lived.

"I also informed the SSU about this. In the conversation I was offered cooperation. They said: 'Well, you understand that everything is going to be as it should be. We will come, and it is better for us to be friends. Let's cooperate,' etc. I told them to go after the russian warship. But I was a little annoyed by these conversations because they said they knew where my family and relatives lived. So I consider Storozhuk's call in the same context. They know all pro-Ukrainian journalists, activists, and public opinion leaders well and are looking for opportunities for psychological pressure," Zaraysky noted.

Censorship – 1

1. "Priamyy," "Espreso" and Channel 5 announce that the BRT Concern has shut down their broadcast

04.04.2022 "Priamyy," "Espreso" and Channel 5 reported that the Broadcasting, Radio and Television Concern (BRTC) had switched off their broadcasting on the morning of April 4.

Espresso said that BRTC had switched off the channel's broadcasting on the T2 digital network "without any legal grounds, at its own discretion," as no government authorities had yet made the decision to close the channel. The channel also notes that they have not received any response to their attempts to ask the BRT Concern for an explanation.

The channel demands that the RRT Concern "stop anti-Ukrainian activities and act exclusively on the basis of the law."

"If the shutdown of the Espreso channel was a technical error, it must be corrected immediately and the broadcast must be resumed. Otherwise, the deliberate disconnection of the Ukrainian TV channel "Espreso" from the Ukrainian digital network T2 can be seen as participation in the war against Ukraine on the side of the Kremlin," the statement says.

In addition, the channel appealed to the authorities "to verify these facts and open criminal proceedings against officials of the BRT Concern for collaboration, treason."

"Espreso" emphasizes that it has always taken and continues to take a pro-Ukrainian position and focuses on war issues, "uniting the nation for a common victory and informing our viewers about official information from state authorities." The channel also reported that daily information blocks of foreign partners regularly appear on air: BBC News (UK), Radio Liberty, Voice of America (USA), France 24 (France). And they see it as a provocation to deprive partner countries of the opportunity to communicate with Ukrainians through their daily and weekly programs broadcast on Espreso.

In addition, Espreso calls on President Volodymyr Zelensky to intervene in the situation and help "end this lawlessness."

Channels Priamyy and Channel 5 called the BRTC's decision to shut them down illegal because "there is no document that would give the BRT concern grounds to turn off TV channels from broadcasting at night." The channels also stressed their pro-Ukrainian and patriotic positions and adherence to the principle of a unified state information policy.

The channels note that they have every reason to believe that "there was an illegal night sabotage in form of a shutdown, which is the responsibility of the BRT Concern's head Kyrylo Danilov."

"It is noteworthy that Kyrylo Danilov used to run Privat TV Dnipro (Channel 9), which is part of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky's media empire. It will be recalled that Kolomoisky was once an apologist for friendship with russia and in an interview with The New York Times in 2019, he said: 'russian tanks will be located near Krakow and Warsaw. Your NATO will soil their pants and will have to buy diapers.' It is known that US sanctions have been imposed on Kolomoisky," the statement said.

The channels appealed to Volodymyr Zelensky "as a guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the illegal actions of Kolomoisky's team in power and their possible incitement to russia, because such actions violate the principle of unity."

The channels are demanding that the BRTC resumes their broadcasting immediately, and the government is urged to remove the head of the BRT Concern from office.

As IMI reported, on March 20, Pryamyy and Channel 5 supported the presidential decree on the launching of a united information telethon "United News #UArazom" and stated that they wanted to get enough time on air to broadcast programs on a single telethon platform on a parity basis with other project participants.

On March 19, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to launch a united telethon “United News #UArazom.”

It is recommended that the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting implement this.

Mykola Kniazhytskyi, a member of the European Solidarity faction, criticized the presidential decree, saying that the decision was illegal, UP reports.

"Only Inter, Plus, Ukraine, and ICTV, which run a joint marathon, have the right to speak on air. Enemies in power are pushing the president not to fight russia 24, which has been launched in Melitopol, but to fight Ukrainian patriotic channels, which, unlike Inter, did not support the OPFL and did not glorify the aggressor. This is illegal and unfair," he wrote.

Adviser to the head of the President's Office Mykhailo Podoliak in a conversation with UP assured that the presidential decree does not provide for the closure of any TV channels.

Legal pressure

Illegal searches – 1

1. Chornomorsk police searches a journalist's house while looking for saboteurs

10.04.2022 On April 10 in Chornomorsk (Odesa region), the police searched the home of local journalist Olga Levchuk, according to "Izbirkom."

According to Olga Levchuk, the police were conducting a search for sabotage groups and went to various houses, but, according to neighbors, everything was limited to checking documents and a cursory inspection.

"In the house of the journalist (who immediately reported this), a police officer named Dmytro also wanted to check her belongings, laptop and camera. When she demanded a search warrant, they stopped what they were doing and the police did not provide any documents for the search," writes the media outlet.

According to Izbirkom, the MONP in Odesa region has not yet commented on the case.

Olga Levchuk plans to appeal to the State Bureau of Investigation, the leadership of the police and the prosecutor's office. "She believes the actions of the police are connected with her criticism of the military administration for making use of the services of people who have expressed their sympathy for the russian federation," the newspaper said.

According to the publication, an explosion occurred in Chornomorsk on April 9. Later, the head of the Odesa military administration, Maksym Marchenko, said that the explosion had occurred in a non-residential building. Law enforcement officers are checking the sabotage theory and looking for perpetrators.

The day before, the enemy struck the village of Krasnosilka in Odesa region with Bastion missiles.

A resident of the village of Isayevo, Berezivskyi district, Odesa region, died in a missile strike on April 7.

Freedom of speech protection

The government's reaction to freedom of speech violation – 1

1. Law enforcers open a case after Chernivtsi journalist receives threats

15.04.2022 Chernivtsi region police opened criminal proceedings after local journalist Halyna Yeremitsa had received threats.

A communication officer of Chernivtsi region police shared this with IMI.

According to the police, the information has been submitted to the URPI and preliminarily qualified as p. 2 of article 171 of CC of Ukraine – Preclusion of legal professional activities of journalists. The police investigators are conducting a pre-trial inquiry and identifying the circumstances of the incident.

We remind that Halyna Yeremitsa had filed a complaint to the police regarding the proclusion of journalist activities. The media worker had been threatened by a Moscow patriarchate parishioner while filming a report on the premises of the OCU Church of Assumption of the Holy Virgin in Mykhalcha village.

According to Yeremitsa, the parishioner attempted to crush her equipment and, consequently, with the police present during the broadcast, made two attempts to throw a brick at her.

In her comment to the IMI representative, Halyna Yeremitsa stated that after the incident she has also received threats on social media from unknown persons.

The journalist community's reaction – 6

1. Media Movement and CJE call on the President to restore the broadcasting of "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5

08.04.2022 The Media Movement and the Commission on Journalistic Ethics call on the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to intervene in the situation with the shutdown of "Espreso," Pryamyy, and Channel 5, explain the reasons for it, and restore their broadcasting. This is said in the Media Movement's statement.

Here is the full statement:

On April 4, the Broadcasting, Radio and Television Concern (BRT Concern) stopped the broadcasting of "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5 on the T2 digital network.

We recognize that during wartime, certain restrictions on freedom of speech are acceptable if they are imposed in the interests of national security, territorial integrity, or public order so as to prevent riots or crimes – such rules are established by the Constitution of Ukraine and the European Convention on Human Rights. However, we are not aware of any activities of these channels that can be interpreted as the aforementioned grounds for limiting their operation.

According to our observations, these channels have been dedicating a significant part of their airtime to broadcasting the United News telethon, in accordance with the President's decree, and the rest of the time the TV channels' own broadcasting was patriotic and did not go beyond the principles of a unified information policy.

To date, we do not know the reasons for the shutdown of the three TV channels, and nobody has explained them publicly at the request of media representatives.

The Media Movement and the Commission on Journalistic Ethics call on the President of Ukraine, as the guarantor of constitutional rights, including the right to freedom of speech, to intervene in this situation and explain the reasons for shutting down the TV channels, if there are any, and to help resume their broadcasting or include them into the production of the United News telethon.

As reported by IMI, on April 4, Channel 5, Priamyy, and "Espreso" announced that the Broadcasting, Radio and Television Concern (BRTC) had switched off the TV channels on the T2 digital network on the morning of April 4. The channels said that the shutdown was illegal because there was no document that would give the BRTC grounds for shutting down the TV channels, and that neither the National Council nor the Ministry of Defense, which regulates martial law, nor the National Security and Defense Council or any other authorized state body did not take any decisions to shut the TV channels down.

The digital television provider Zeonbud, which is currently subject to the state-owned BRT Concern, is unaware of the reasons for the shutdown of the "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5.

The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting has stated that it has not decided to shut down the Priamyy, Channel 5, and Espresso and is not mandated to do so.

2. "Espreso," "Priamyy," and Channel 5 ask Zelenskyy to respond to their shutdown

08.04.2022 The staff of "Espreso," Priamyy and Channel 5 ask the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to respond to the actions of the leadership of the state Broadcasting, Radio and Television (BRT) Concern, which, in their opinion, violates the constitutional rights of the channels.

This is stated in an open appeal of TV channels.

"We, the employees of the TV companies, appeal to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy with the message that the state BRT Concern threw three national broadcasters off the air without warning at a time when, in particular, the information war with russia is ongoing. We emphasize that this shutdown with no official grounds for it is a violation of the signed written agreements with the channels. And also obstruction of lawful professional activity of journalists, which constitutes violation of Art. 171 of the CCU. The state concern illegally deprived the television companies' multimillion audience of the right to receive information," the statement says.

The channels call on the President, "as the Guarantor of the Constitution, to pay attention to the actions of the leadership of the state BRT Concern, which violate the constitutional rights of the channels."

"We are convinced that only by adhering to a single information policy will we be able not only to repel the enemy's information onslaught, but also to bring us closer to Ukraine's common victory over the aggressor," the statement said.

3. "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5 call on the government to restore their broadcasting

14.04.2022 The staff of Espreso, Priamyy, and Channel 5 called on the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the mandated state bodies to restore the TV channels' broadcasting.

This is stated in a joint letter from the TV channels that were sent to the President, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Cabinet of Ministers members, Verkhovna Rada, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, the National Security and Defense Council, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, and all the mandated state bodies.

The channels consider it illegal to shut down their broadcasting, because "there is no valid document that would give legal grounds for the BRT Concern to disconnect us from the air." Also, according to the TV channels, no decision has been approved by the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting or by the court.

"Such arbitrary actions of the BRT Concern can only be viewed as sabotage to the enemy's benefit – as colluding with russia, as they spread doubt about Ukraine upholding the principles of free speech and media independence that are at the core of the Association Agreement Between Ukraine and the EU," the letter says.

The channels' staff notes that from the first day of the full-scale russian invasion, they have been reporting reliable information about the war and adhering to the principle of a unified state information policy. In particular, the letter says, "the lion's share of our airtime was transferred to the broadcast of the joint national telethon." And the rest of the air time is devoted to their own programs and shows.

"We appeal to you, Mr. President, as well as to all mandated state bodies to protect freedom of speech in Ukraine, not to stray away from the European direction and give Ukrainian citizens the opportunity to watch patriotic Ukrainian TV channels staffed by professional journalists who, together with you, oppose russia as a terrorist state and its propaganda machine on a separate information frontline. Bring the TV channels back, do not kill freedom of speech and Ukraine's European future," the letter reads.

4. "Espreso," "Priamyy," and Channel 5 appeal to EU over being shut down

15.04.2022 The staff of TV channels "Espreso," "Priamyy," and Channel 5 issued an open letter to the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Matti Maasikas about being banned from digital broadcasting.

The letter is posted on the "Espreso" website.

In this letter, the channels state that on April 4, the Broadcasting, Radio and Television Concern shut them down "illegally and arbitrarily."

"Shutting down the broadcasting of our channels is illegal, as there is no valid document that would give the BRT Concern legal justification for driving us off the air. Neither there has been any decision made by the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine – the only institution that has the right to approve decisions regarding the broadcasting of television channels. Such arbitrary actions of the BRT Concern can only be viewed as sabotage to the enemy's benefit – as colluding with russia, as they spread doubt about Ukraine upholding the principles of free speech and media independence that are at the core of the Association Agreement Between Ukraine and the EU," the letter states.

The channels also believe that the continuation of such a situation "is not likely to create a conductive background for the Eurocommission's favourable assessment of Ukraine's conformity with the criteria for EU membership in regards to freedom of speech, as well as for Ukraine being granted candidate status quickly, which we, the journalists, fully and unconditionally support."

"Taking the aforementioned information into account, we appeal to you and, through you, to the European community with a request to facilitate the restoration of the violated rights of our channels and our journalists, as well as further addressing of problematic issues related to securing the freedom of speech and the media in Ukraine," the letter reads.

5. The media can publish photos and videos of military facilities 12 hours after the end of hostilities – statement by the government and Media Movement

27.04.2022 The media can publish photos and videos of military facilities 12 hours after the end of hostilities, 3 hours later in the case of civilian facilities.

This agreement was reached by representatives of the authorities and the Media Movement journalist community, according to a joint statement of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the media.

Representatives of the authorities and the Media Movement journalist community agreed that in order to comply with all the necessary security conditions, journalists can gather information on the ground immediately after the shelling. At the same time, the publication of photos and videos taken by media representatives and journalists about the events at the site of hostilities is allowed after 12 hours for military facilities and after 3 hours for civilian facilities," the statement said.

Military administrations are encouraged to provide more information to the media about the destruction caused by the enemy's actions no later than one day after the event.

At the same time, journalists are reminded to maintain a balance between the press's access to events and state security during the war. Therefore, the media and journalists are urged to strictly follow order №73 of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Valery Zaluzhnyy of March 3, 2022, which establishes the procedure for admitting media representatives to military facilities in the area of hostilities during martial law.

In particular, the order defines the action algorithm for the armed forces' commanders as well as commanders of the UAF military units and subdivisions when working with representatives of civilian media. The procedure for accreditation of journalists of national and foreign media and work rules of mass media representatives in combat zones are also defined.

Only accredited media representatives may be admitted to military facilities in the area of ​​hostilities, with the permission of the unit commander. The order also approved Work rules for media representatives in combat zones, which media representatives personally look through when they are being issued a press pass.

In case of violation of these rules, the accreditation of the media representative will be revoked.

"We urge journalists to avoid disclosing information that could lead to the enemy's awareness of the actions of the Defense Forces and negatively affect carrying out the assigned tasks," the statement said.

It is also reported that the Ministry of Culture together with the Ministry of Defense will hold regular meetings with media representatives to establish a systematic dialogue and promote the professional activities of journalists during martial law.

As IMI reported, on March 28, Ukrainian and foreign journalists, as well as media and non-governmental organizations and movements, called on the authorities to take immediate steps to end harassment of journalists and to develop transparent rules for covering russian shelling.

6. Channel 4 asks the people not to equate their staff with their owner Kovalyov

28.04.2022 Channel 4 staff asks the people not to equate their employees with the behavior of the channel's owner Oleksiy Kovalyov.

This is said in a statement issued by the TV channel on April 28.

According to the statement, from the first days of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine, the owner of the channel Oleksiy Kovalyov has not been in touch and did not provide any support to the channel or its employees.

"Oleksiy Kovalyov, as the owner, could have provided financial assistance to the company, but he did not get in touch with us. Nevertheless, the media know that Kovalyov is now in the occupied territories in the Kherson region. There, Oleksiy runs a Facebook page freely, communicates with journalists of various online publications and reports that he cares about his constituents and his agribusiness, and that he has communicated with the occupiers," the statement reads.

The channel reminded that the Servant of the People faction had suspended Kovalyov's membership and suspects him of treason due to his stay in the occupied part of the Kherson region.

"Unfortunately, Oleksiy Kovalyov's behavior also casts a shadow over our team, so we ask the society not to equate Channel 4 employees with Kovalyov's behavior," the statement said.

At the same time, the staff noted that since its inception, the channel has always worked for Ukrainians within the framework of pro-Ukrainian rhetoric. And from the first days, it joined the united telethon and began to broadcast United News on its frequency to counter the enemy's propaganda.

The channel also noted that since the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion, the channel has been deprived of the opportunity to earn on advertising and has now accumulated a lot of debt: some taxes, rent, service providers, but above all, the employees of the channel no longer receive wages.

As IMI reported, on April 28, the Servant of the People faction in Verkhovna Rada suspended the membership of MP Oleksiy Kovalyov and appealed to the Prosecutor General and the head of the Security Service to initiate a case to investigate his stay in the temporarily occupied part of Kherson region. The deputy is suspected of treason.

The Speaker of Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk stated that he did not know the whereabouts of Oleksiy Kovalyov, Servant of the People faction member who bought Channel 4 in 2021, or what he was doing.

In late December 2021, it became known that Oleksiy Kovalyov bought Channel 4 from former People's Deputy Dmitry Dobrodomov.

Oleksiy Kovalyov said that his family decided to buy Channel 4 to "make it even better, more powerful and more popular."

Crimea – 1

1. Citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych arrested in Crimea

29.04.2022 In the occupied Crimea, russian security services arrested citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych. This was reported by ZMINA, citing its own sources.

She was detained on April 29 on the way from Koktebel to Feodosia, as Iryna was going home from work. The journalist's house in Vladislavivka village near Feodosia was searched, her phone and laptop were confiscated.

The security services did not leave a copy of the ruling, but, according to Danylovych's relatives, the document referred to "ties with a foreign state and 10 days of arrest."

Iryna Danylovych worked as a nurse and ran a social media page, as well as several blogger columns on various websites dedicated to the rights of healthcare workers and the healthcare issues on the peninsula.

The detention of citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych in the occupied Crimea shows signs of enforced disappearance. KrymSOS analyst Evheniy Yaroshenko reported this.

"The case of Iryna Danylovych has all elements of enforced disappearance. She had been previously detained by the occupying law enforcement officers. For five days now, her family has not learnt anything about her whereabouts, as well as the place and time of possible court hearings against her. The detainee does not have access to a lawyer," Yaroshenko said.

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