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Freedom of Speech Barometer for May 2016

09.06.2020, 16:07

In May, IMI experts recorded 11 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine (January - 19, February - 18, March - 25, April - 18). Seven of them were the cases of physical aggression against journalists.

These are the data of the monthly monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information "Barometer of Freedom of Speech".

In May, the most often, the journalists faced obstruction of their professional activity (five cases) and denial  of access to public information (three cases).

Three of five cases of obstruction are related to lockdown declared because of coronavirus pandemic. In particular, in Zaporizhia on May 7, an unidentified man attacked several TV crews with national TV channels. The journalists were filmimg a story about the violation of quarantine rules at “Bakhchisaray” market. The person followed journalists as soon as they entered the market territory and insulted them in coqrse lqnguqge. Then he attacked the operators and tried to tear their face masks off and damage the equipment. The journalists had to protect themselves and the equipment with a pepper spray. 

In Lviv, on May 13, the journalists with Pershy Zakhidny TV channel were driven out from a hairdressing salon, they forbade them to film. The journalist Ksenia Pavlyshyn and the cameraman Yuriy Kish were going to shoot a story on lockdown easing and on beauty salons and hairdressers resuming its work.

On May 27, a number of journalists were denied access to the session of the Kryvyi Rih municipal Council, officials failed to provide any well-grounded explanation.

All three cases of denial of access to public information for journalists were recorded in Mykolaiv. The local authorities and law enforcement officers were involved in. Thus, the chairman of the Mykolaiv regional council Victoriya Moskalenko failed to reply to the information request of the journalist of the edition Prestupnosti.net about the amount of her salary.

Another request for information from Prestupnosty.net was left without reply, it was about renovation in the office of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Mykolaiv region Vitaly Hersak.

The director of the municipal enterprise of the Mykolaiv regional council "Mykolaiv international airport" Fedor Barna refused to disclose the amount of his salary to the edition "NikVesti". 

Eight male journalists and five female journalists faced pressure, while working this month.

Violations were recorded in seven regions of Ukraine. Most violations were recorded in Kyiv and Mykolayiv: three for each, in other regions there were one case for each of the regions.

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI has recorded a total of 91 violations of freedom of speech, 45 cases of obstruction, 11 cases of beatings and eight cases of threats.

Physical aggression

Beating - 1

1. Journalist with Pryamyy TV injured during assault on Ivan Honchar Museum

26.05.2020 A journalist with Pryamyy TV, Anna Dzioba, got hurt on May 26 during an assault by officers of the State Bureau of Investigation of the Ivan Honchar Museum in Kyiv, as Pryamyy TV reported.

According to the channel, the SBI officers forced the museum’s door, they used force against journalists and deputies. At the same time, the representatives of SBI didn't present any documents and illegally got into the building.

In a comment to IMI, the journalist for Pryamy Anna Dzioba said that she had bruises on her breasts after the incident.

According to her, the SBI representatives saw Pryamyy TV’s microphone in her hands, and a press table hung around her neck. 

“While the SBI representatives broke down the door to the museum, they started to push everyone out and a commotion started. I was detained by two SBI representatives in ammunition. Yes, there was nothing to breathe. And they hit me in the chest and abdomen with their elbows several times, ”the journalist said. 

According to her, after the incident, she wrote a statement to the police at the scene, and later went to the hospital to remove the beatings.

“After the broadcast, I went to the Pechersk department and wrote an explanation / supplement to the statement, because I saw bruises. Regarding injuries - bruises on the mammary glands. The next day, she removed the beatings at the Kyiv City Clinical Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination of Living Persons, ”Anna said.

Threats - 1

  1. The editor-in-chief of Novoe Vremya claimed that after NV published story on Portnov, his phone number was disclosed online

12.05.2020 The edior in chief of Novoe Vremya weekly Vitaliy Sych said that his phone was posted online after NV had published story on Andriy Portnov, ex-deputy head of Viktor Yanukovych's Presidential Administration. Then unknown people started writing and calling him with insults and proposals to sort things out. Vitaliy Sych told it on his Facebook page on May 12.

On May 11 NV came out with a story "Plagiarism was found in Portnov's dissertation". The publication referred to the decision of the Ethics Committee of the National Agency for Quality Control in Education which revealed that Portnov's dissertation had plagiarism.

As to Vitaliy Sich, immediately after publication his mobile phone number and numbers of investigative journalists Natalia Sedletska (Radio Svoboda), Anna Babinets (Slidstvo. Info) and Denis Bigus (BIHUS.info) appeared in the Telegram messenger. "The numbers were posted by Andriy Portnov himself and Oleksandr Dubynsky, MP from the Servant of the People faction," the editor-in-chief of NV wrote.

Then, in the evening, he received messages "with invectives and suggestions to sort things out with a certain Volodymyr (Sych, ..uck you shit, call back, we have to meet and sort things out)". 

"At night there were a couple of attempts to contact me through a video call from, I suppose, drunken fans of Portnov and Dubinsky. But in general they were few, five or six people. My favorite message came from a certain Igor Plytsyn. He politely asked if I was ashamed to sell Ukraine to Sores (litteraly),” Sych wrote.

Andriy Portnov and Oleksandr Dubinsky in their Telegram messengers posted the message of the Telegram channel "Secrets of the MP", with the phone numbers of four journalists. The message of the "Secrets of the MP" channel said: "Independent journalists" receive money at the US Embassy and from American companies. “Soros-puppy media, which defend the interests of the United States in Ukraine, whose aim is to create constant social tensions with purpose of theft of natural resources.

“Mrs Dubinsky and Portnov, who were offended by the investigation of Slidstvo.Info, in their telegrams put online my mobile phone together with the mobile phones of other my colleagues. Obviously with purpose they wrote to me, called me and envenomed my life in every possible way. Besides apparent inadequates, there have been some people writing to me with whom it was a pleasure to speak to. I converted them to our sect, ” Anna Babinets wrote on her Facebook page.

Obstruction of lawful journalistic activity - 5

  1. In Zaporozhye, journalists were attacked, as they were covering lockdown

07.05.2020 In Zaporizhzhya, on May 7, an unidentified man attacked several TV crews with national TV channels. The journalists were filming a story about the violation of quarantine rules at “Bakhchisaray” market, as 061.ua reported. 

The person followed journalists as soon as they entered the market territory and insulted them in coarse language. Then he attacked the operators and tried to tear their face masks off and damage the equipment. The journalists had to protect themselves and the equipment with a pepper spray.

As the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhya region told, among others there were TV crews of NTN, 112th and ICTV Channels.

Zaporizhzhya police department opened criminal proceedings for obstruction of lawful professional activity of journalists, as it is reported the website of police in Zaporizhzhya region.

"Police established that on the territory of the market of Zaporizhzhya district, the TV crews of national TV channels were filming the story about compliance with quarantine measures by commercial employees. An unknown person provoked a conflict involving the media professionals and hindered the cameramen to shoot the video”.

https://youtu.be/QxxguC7cCIc 

The police is probing into the case.

  1. In the Volyn Regional State Administration, the meeting was canceled due to the arrival of journalists

08.05.2020 On May 8, the Volyn Regional State Administration canceled a meeting on the shallowing of Lake Svityaz due to the arrival of the TV crew for Pershyy –TV Lutsk.

The IMI correspondent in the Volyn region reported it citing the editor-in-chief of the web-based edition Pershyy –TV.Lutsk Yuriy Rychuk.

Yuriy Rychuk told that the Volyn Regional State Administration did not even informed the press of the forthcoming meeting on shallowing the Lake Svityaz. The TV crew, journalist Victoria Prytulyuk and cameraman Mykola Husar, learned about it from their own sources. 

As the journalist Victoria Prytulyuk said, speaking to IMI, no journalists from other media attended the meeting. And the officials refused to hold the meeting in presence of the TV crew.

Adviser to the head of the Volyn Regional State Administration Emil Mikailov bluntly rejected the option the press could be present at the meeting. He suggested the journalist had to go to the receiving office and interrogated what was the reason for attending the meeting by the journalists.

"Adviser to the head of the Volyn Regional State Administration Emil Mikailov said that we hadn’t to attend that meeting. However, he did not justify why. I asked on what were the grounds. At first, he first said he did not want to be filmed. Then he added that we hadn’t be there and we must go to the secretariat. I said that we wouldn’t go out, because there was no ban and the issue was not classified information. The Deputy Head of the Regional State Administration Anatoliy Kostyk intervened and said: "If they want to take pictures, let them doing it, thereby making it all three ring circus, "said Victoria Prytulyuk.

According to the journalist, Emil Mikailov recovered his temper after these words and started talking about the shallowing of the lake. However, the head of the State Ecological Service in Volyn region, Oleksandr Kraliuk, intervened and said that some unscheduled inspections of blueberry growing enterprises would be carried out, and the matter contained some classified information there, so he would not voice anything.

On May 8, the Volyn Regional State Administration's Facebook page reported that the meeting on shallowing Svityaz was canceled due to arrival of the TV crew of Pershyy - TV.Lutsk TV channel, which would be related to Volodymyr Bondar, a deputy of the regional council whose business was associated with blueberry plantations near Lake Svityaz. The next meeting is expected to be held behind closed doors.

"This decision was made by the participants of the meeting, as the meeting was planned to discuss, in particular, some classified information concerning the probable causes of the shallowing of the Shatsk Lakes," the regional state administration said.

Representatives of law enforcement agencies, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor's Office of the Volyn Region, the Regional Office of Water Resources, the State Ecological Inspectorate in the Volyn Region, the Department of Agro-industrial Development and the Department of State Ecology also rejected to discuss the shallowing of the lake, as some sources at the Regional State Administration said.

IMI lawyer Ali Safarov stressed that the issues of shallowing the Shatsky Lakes should be held open-door, in compliance with access mode procedure. After all, in accordance with the second part of Article 20 of the Law of Ukraine “On Information”, any information shall be considered as public one, except that which is an information with limited access, according to the law.

He mentioned the fourth part of Article 21, according to which next information is not to be considered as the information of limited access: 1) on environment, quality of food and household items; 2) about accidents, catastrophes, dangerous natural phenomena and other emergencies that have occurred or may occur and threaten the safety of people.

"Thus, concealment of this information from the public and from journalists is illegal and may entail administrative (according to Article 212-3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Ukraine) or criminal liability (according to Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine)," said the lawyer. .

Oksana Prokopchuk-Movyak, adviser to the head of the Volyn Regional State Administration on media issues, said in a comment to an IMI representative that they had not announced a meeting for the press because of lockdown. Also, they thought not think no journalists would come to the meeting that they had not notified in advance.

"This time, we did not hang a piece of paper on the door informing that the meeting was closed-door. So, journalists freely entered the office, "she said.

Oksana Prokopchuk-Movyak also noted that if the meeting had taken place, those present would not have been able to discuss every issue they had planned, because of the journalists present there.

"The meeting ipso facto could take place, but without discussion, as scheduled. Because not all information should be voiced in the press. It could be some details that can not be disclosed publicly until the trial is over, or something else," - noted Oksana Prokopchuk-Movyak.

An IMI spokeswoman asked how the next meeting was planned to be held and whether there would be an online broadcast.

"We are unable to gather journalists for all sittings or to broadcast everything online. Because most of them are a kind of discussion, and we inform citizens about the results of our activities, precise plans or agreed projects. Because, unfortunately, not all projects can be sustained by the regional budget, and the infrastructure development in the region is partly funded by the state budget and co-financed from local budgets. So many ideas remain on standby, "she added.

IMI lawyer Ali Safarov noted that if the restrictions were due to lockdown, the functionaries must have issued a separate order or other document, which set the quarantine restrictions and clearly defined the way to obtain information for the press.

"If there is no document of the kind, then restrictions as to access to information and journalists' access to the premises are not related to quarantine. Article 25 of the Law of Ukraine "On Information", any journalist who submitted one’s press card, has right to enter the premises of the entities of power and public events they held, "- said the lawyer. According to Ali Safarov, the event can be held closed door only in cases provided by the law, and this certainly does not apply to the environment.

  1. 1 + 1 blamed head of the Odessa Regional State Administration for attempt to expel journalists with the help of the National Guard

13.05.2020 The head of the Odessa regional state administration, Maksym Kutsiy, ordered the National Guard to expel the TV crew of “Secretni Materialy” program, just after a question asked by journalist about a tender for purchasing ambulance cars. This was reported by Detector Media with reference to 1 + 1 TV channel’s press service.

Journalists of the "Secret Materials" program Yevheniy Kuksin and Yulia Chervonenko were to film a story exposing corruption schemes surrounding the purchase of ambulances by the Odessa Regional State Administration. They had to record a comment with Maxim Kutsy. 

“To record the comment, the head of the regional state administration invited journalists to his office. But when journalists began to ask questions about the tender for the purchase of ambulances, the head of the regional state administration refused to comment and called the National Guard. In addition, the head of the regional state administration tried to seize the cameraman's phone by force, by means of which he was filming, ” the  broadcaster’s press service reported.

Eugene Kuksin released the video of the incident. The head of the Odessa Regional State Administration called the journalist's question "provocative" and his office a "restricted area facility." He asked the cameraman to stop filming and to delete the record, then tried to pick up the camera. “I forbid you to film me now and please delete this record. You ask provocative questions. Please stop recording. I will call the National Guard now, "Kutsiy said.

The editorial board of “Secretni Materialy” is going to lodge a complaint to law enforcement agencies for obstruction of lawful professional activity of journalists (Article 171 of the Criminal Code).

The story about corruption schemes in the Odessa Regional State Administration will be released in the program "Secretni Materialy" on the TV channel "1 + 1" on May 13, at 7:00 pm.

The head of the press service of the Odessa regional state administration Denis Sokolov told the representative of IMI in the Odessa region Pavel Kolotvin that the video with the head of the regional state administration was recorded by journalists on May 8, but the video was broadcast on an external Telegram channel. 

“The incident happened just after the weekly briefing, at which the leadership of the regional state administration reports on its work, answers questions from mass media. The TV crew introduced themselves as journalists of one of the TV channels who wanted to record a comment on another topic. Showed press cards. As I found out later, they really are employees of this TV channel. However, the video was released on a third-party telegram channel after a few days of media attacks on anonymous resources, ”Denis Sokolov said. 

According to him, the TV crew asked to explain several issues concerning Covid-19, and then asked some provocative questions. “I don't know what question was asked precisely that Maxim Kutsy answered. I was not present at that moment, "Denis Sokolov said.

The head of Odessa regional administration Maksym Kutsy apologized to the journalists for the row and added that they were almost ready to transmit new ambulance cars to health workers. Kytsyy told it on 14 May at the press briefing at the motor pool of Odessa emergency center, as Suspilne reported.

  1. In Lviv, TV crew with Pershyy Zakhidny was driven out from hairdressing salon, its employees forbade them to take pictures

13.05.2020 In Lviv, the journalists with Pershy Zakhidny TV channel were got out from a hairdressing salon, they forbade them to film, as Zaxid.net reported. 

The incident occurred on 13 May in the hairdressing salon "Glamor" on the Soborna square in Lviv. 

The journalist Ksenia Pavlyshyn and the cameraman Yuriy Kysh were going to shoot a story on lockdown easing and on beauty salons and hairdressers resuming its work.

The video, taken by journalists, showed the journalists entering the hairdresser shop and asking permission to film. But they were denied to take pictures: the hair studio employees shouted at them and rudely kicking them out of the room. One of the hairdresser's employees used strong language.

The film crew left the premises and called the police. The journalists filed a complaint about fact of obstruction of their professional activity.

On May 14, the police probe into the fact.

According to Yaroslav Zhukrovsky, media lawyer and host of the Pershy Zakhidny TV, such an aggressivity would be caused by the fact that they have been violating some lockdown measures in the hair salon.

“In our opinion, this reaction was caused by the fact that there were more than 10 people in the room, not all workers wore face masks and gloves, as it was due under lockdown rules. All this is recorded in our video. The TV crew's staying there and the conversation indoors have been also filmed. We handed over all video materials together with the complaint to the police. Because if anyone prevents journalists from fulfilling their professional activities, they should be held accountable, ”Yaroslav Zhukrovsky said.

  1. Several journalists have been denied access to the session of Kryvy Rih municipal council, for the 2nd time during lockdown

27.05.2020 On May 27, a number of journalists were denied access to the session of the Kryvyi Rih municipal Council, officials failed to provide any well-grounded explanation, as Detektor Media reported.

The police did not react to the actions of security guards. When the journalists asked the police to intervene, they replied that the journalists could file complaint. According to Detector Media, the complaint was lodged by blogger Oleksander Likarenko. The edition is expecting confirmation of this report from the Kryvyi Rih Police Department.

The elected members of the municipal council deputies Mykola Dektyaryov and Serhiy Popovych inquired the Secretary of the council Serhiy Malyarenko about denial of access for the press. Malyarenko mentioned coronavirus and said that the journalists could watch the online broadcast of the sitting. He did not cite any document statuating the ban for the press to attend the meeting.

This is the second incident of the kind during lockdown period. On April 22, representatives of the Kryvyi Rih Municipal Guard pushed Sofia Skyba, editor-in-chief of Pershyy Kryvorizskyy news agency, and journalist Maksym Bovchalyuk out of the Kryvyi Rih municipal council, where the standing commissions were meeting. They addressed issues related to the allocation of land for the construction of religious buildings and the transfer to private ownership of real estate in the historic center, the issue of redistribution of funds aiming to counter coronavirus. The session of the city council was held in the inner yard of the council building. The territory of the backyard of the city executive committee can allow journalists to work without hindering each other.

The police then opened criminal proceedings for obstructing the professional activities of journalists (Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), but within a month no one was declared a suspect.

Censorship. Access to information

Access to information - 3

  1. Prestupnosti.net reported that the chairperson of the Nikolaev regional council ignored their request

13.05.2020  The chairperson of the Mykolaiv regional council Victoriya Moskalenko failed to reply to the information request of the journalist of the edition Prestupnosti.net about the amount of her salary. The journalist for Prestupnosti.net Yulia Akimova told it to the representative of IMI in Mykolaiv region.

According to the journalist, on April 8 she sent to the governor the RFI concerning the size of a her salary, her assistants and members of the staff of the Mykolaiv regional council. On April 14, Yulia Akimova received an answer with a list of all staff and assistants to the head of the regional council, but without any data of their salaries. Victoria Moskalenko requested 20 working days for more detailed reply (the term came to its end on 7 May).

“On May 7, I tried to contact Victoria Viktorivna, but in the receiving I was redirected to the administrative office, where they did not pick up the phone, and Moskalenko's mobile phone did not answer either. On May 12, I was referred from the office to the Citizens' Appeals Department, where I was told that the answer was awaiting the signature of Moskalenko. The bureaucratic circle was closed. In Moskalenko's secretariat I was told that the chairman of a regional council had it in mind, everything was good and the answer would be sent already today, that was yesterday. But I never received an answer, ”Yulia Akimova said.

The journalist added that the edition prepared the administrative suit for violation committed by the chairman of the Mykolaiv regional council Victoria Moskalenko.

As IMI reported, the Central district court of Mykolaiv fined the chairman of the Mykolaiv regional council Victoria Moskalenko for the sum of 1700 hryvnias, having found her guilty of commission of the administrative offense provided by article 188-40 Code of Administrative Procedure (failure to fulfill legal requirements of the regional representative of the commissioner). We will remind, the regional representative of the commissioner in the Mykolaiv region Svitlana Odintsova sent four letters to Victoria Moskalenko, reacting to the complaint of the journalist of the local edition "Nikvesti" Kateryna Sereda, and in the period from December 13, 2019 till the end of January 2020 tried to obtain from the Mykolaiv regional council documents and explanations of responsible persons regarding violation of the law on access to public information. However, Moskalenko did not comply with the legal requirements of the regional representative of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner.

In October 2019, the journalist addressed to the chairman of the Myjkolaiv regional council with an information request concerning use of budgetary funds. However, the head of the regional council responded to the request only two months later, after the case was considered by the court.

  1. The chief of Administration of SBU in Mykolaiv region refused the journalist in request concerning renovation in his office

15.05.2020 Vitaliy Hersak, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine in Mykolayiv region, dismissed the information request sent by Anatoliy Chubachenko, Editor-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Media Group news agency (Prestupnosti.net), on conditions of renovation works in his office.

Anatoliy Chubachenko posted the answer of May 15 with a refusal on his Facebook page, as Prestupnosti.net reported.

The journalist told, late March in a corridor and an office of the chairman of the administration of SBU in the Mykolaiv region renovation works were carried out. However, no information on purchase could be found in the ProZorro state purchases system, so they addressed a request to the head of the SBU Department.

In reply signed by Vitaly Gersak said that the information about the renovation works (grounds for it, expenses, sources of funding for repair work) was of the category of information with limited access.

"The requested information falls under paragraph 10.6 of the List of information that constitutes official information in the Security Service of Ukraine ... and belongs to the category of information with limited access ... Thus, your request shall be rejected," - the response read.

In the comment of the representative of IMI in the Mykolaiv region the editor-in-chief of Prestupnosti.net Anatoly Chubachenko noted that he expected that the management of Security service of Ukraine would pay attention to such actions of the head of the Mykolaiv administration.

“I judge negatively such deeds of the head of the Administration of SBU and I expect that superiors of Hersak will take note that he is transgressing the law and will take appropriate measures. As for seizure of the court and the appeal against denial to reply to the request of information, the final decision has not been made yet, ”Anatoliy Chubachenko said.

  1. Director of Mykolaiv airport refused to disclose amount of his salary to NikVesti

26.05.2020 The director of the municipal enterprise of the Mykolaiv regional council "The Mykolaiv international airport" Fedor Barna refused to disclose the amount of his salary to the edition NikVesti. 

This is said in the reply signed by the director of the enterprise to the information request of the local edition NikVesti, as the representative of IMI in Mykolaiv region told.

On 19 May, NikVesti addressed to the "The Mykolaiv international airport" the request of information asking to inform about the amount of monthly salary received by the director of the municipal enterprise Fedor Barna for the period from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019, and also from January 1 to May 18, 2020, indicating separately the amount of salary for each month, as well as bonuses, wage premiums, pecuniary aid and other extra charges he had been receiving, and to provide data on number of work days, business trips and vacations.

For his part, Fedor Barna refused to provide that information to journalists, justifying it, in particular, with "the lack of legal obligation." Denying to provide such information, Barna also noted that the journalists did not indicate in the request what they needed that information for.

“Your request has a requirement to provide an information that does not relate to the terms of supply of goods, services and prices for services under the statutory activities of the enterprise. <...> You do not specify how the information you requested is necessary for the realization of your rights, freedoms and legitimate interests. And in this case, the company does not violate any of your rights and legitimate interests, ” read the response signed by Barna.

IMI lawyer Ali Safarov, commenting on this situation, noted that the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information" in part five of Article 6 stipulated that one could not limit access to the information on the disposal of budget funds, possession, use or disposal of state, communal property, in particular to copies of relevant documents, conditions under which these funds have been received or property, surnames, names, patronymics of individuals and names of legal entities that received these funds or property.

The Mykolayiv International Airport, as stated in the text of the reply letter, is a municipal company, and thus it disposes of utility funds and property. Thus, this utility company is the manager of public information not only in the terms of supply of goods, but also on the disposal of budget money and communal property, "- said the lawyer.

He added that the denial of access to public information must meet the requirements set out in Article 22 of the Law of Ukraine "On Access to Public Information", but in this case the letter from the management of municipal enterprise did not meet these requirements.

In addition, it should be noted that the second part of Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information” stipulates that the requester has the right to demand the information from the information controller, regardless of whether this information concerns him personally or not, without explaining the reason for submission of this request. Thus, based on the above, in this case there are signs of illegal refusal to satisfy the request for access to public information, "- said the lawyer of IMI.

Ali Safarov reminded that failure to provide, untimely provision or illegal refusal to satisfy a request for access to public information is an administrative offense under Article 212-3 of the Code of Ukraine "On Administrative Offenses".

Legal pressure

Other cases of legal pressure - 1

  1. Poyarkov was charged for "threats to Zelensky"

28.05.2020 On May 28, the blogger Serhiy Poyarkov has been indicted within criminal proceeding for threats to assassinate the president Volodymyr Zelensky, as Detektor Media reported.

"You would see the eyes of the SBU investigator, who sloughed off of communication with me today and transferred it all to the prosecutor's office again. Today is a holiday in the SBU, they finally got rid of this case," Poyarkov told the publication.

Serhiy Poyarkov is accused of a crime under Part 1 of Article 346 ("Threat or violence against a statesman or public figure") of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This article entails a punishment of up to five years in prison.

According to Poyarkov, the case has been under investigation since October 2019 because of one of his parodies on the YouTube channel, which mentioned the president Volodymyr Zelensky. In January 2020, the SBU pressed suspicion of threatening to assassinate the head of state to Serhiy Poyarkov. On January 29, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv, choosing a measure of restraint, released Serhiy Poyarkov on personal bail.

Sergei Poyarkov denied that his actions were criminal: "There was no crime or attempt. Parody cannot be considered as a crime."

He claimed that President Volodymyr Zelensky twice testified in the case: "Zelensky testified back in October that he was terribly frightened by my vlogs, he was afraid and believed that my parodies had a mortal threat to his life. Then, in March he also testified and said he was scared when I showed samples of parodies of Western presidents. He has an hysterical fear when he is parodied. "

At the same time, the president’s spokeswoman Yulia Mendel could not comment on the information that Zelensky testified twice in this case. "We don't have that information. It's kind of nonsense," she told Media Detector.

Poyarkov found this case was artificially made. "I am sure that this will be the most caricatured trial in the history of Ukrainian jurisprudence. I am confident that in the course of court hearings we will be able to overshadow the Quarter 95," he said.

In addition, the blogger suggested that the Ministry of Internal Affairs refused to investigate the case, so it was handed over to the SBU, although the article on threats is not under SBU’s juridsiction. Oleksandr Lytvyn, lawyer with the Center for Countering Corruption, confirmed that the case under this article had to be probed by the National Police (a unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs). "The SBU often takes away the cases it wants, but this article is not under its jurisdiction," he told asked by Detector Media.

Poyarkov does not reject the option, he would file complaint for official malfeasance.

Poyarkov told that his vlog for which the case has been initiated, is still available on YouTube, the video platform did not block it (video timecode from 5:33 to 6:20).

Earlier, Serhiy Poyarkov was also the host of the Pryamyy TV channel where conducted the author's program "Poyarkov’s News". The program no longer comes out. Its latest edition on the website and YouTube of Peyamy TV is dated of January 10.

On January 9, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting fixed an unscheduled inspection of Pryamyy TV channel following a complaint by citizen Kasyanenko against host Serhiy Poyarkov, who insulted the president Volodymyr Zelensky. It was about the edition of the program "Poyarkov’s News" of December 27, 2019, in which the host called Volodymyr Zelensky a "little weirdo", a "Kryvyi Rih bedwetter", and his father - stupid.

Protection of freedom of speech

The government's response to violations of freedom of speech - 1

  1. Court in Lviv issued sentence to person charged with setting ablaze car of journalist for Radio Svoboda

25.05.2020 On May 25, the Halytskyi Court of Lviv ruled in the case of Jakob Sarakhman, 19, accused of setting ablaze the car of Radio Svoboda journalist Halyna Tereshchuk. The court sentenced him to five years in prison with a three-year probation period, as RFE/RL reported.

"He has been sentenced to a suspended sentence. If he does not violate his duties, if he is present at simultaneous interrogations, in court proceedings in criminal proceedings against other persons and testifies against them, if he does not commit any crime during this period, so during this probation time it will be considered that he completed his sentence.  This agreement was made with somehow upfront. Jacob Sarahman did not reimburse even part of the material damage for the time being. Since we understand, he is unable to do it, as a Christian, the aggrieved person agreed to accept this agreement, and he sincerely repented of", said Oleh Mytsyk, the victim's lawyer.

According to the investigation, Jakob Sarahman, student at Lviv Polytechnic University, admitted that on the night of January 30, he set ablaze the car of correspondent for Lviv Radio Liberty Halyna Tereshchuk. Proceedings were opened against him under Article 194 ("Intentional destruction or damage to property") of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

"I am conscious of my guilt and I am strongly regret of this act. I understand that I did some bad things, I am ready to reimburse. I apologized to the person. It turned out that everyone can be in trouble," said Jakob Sarahman.

Two other people are involved in the arson case - Mykhailo Cherdak, major of the Frankivsk district police in Lviv, who is in hiding and wanted, and an unemployed, previously convicted Vadym Dmytrenko. According to Lviv journalists, the man is known in the criminal world. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against these two suspects under Article 347 ("Intentional damage to a journalist's property") of the Criminal Code.

By now, the investigation has not named the motive for the crime to the victims - Halyna and Vasily Tereshchuk.

"I still do not know the motives of the crime. For the first time today I saw in court a man who set fire to a car. But he is the lowest link in this chain. There were people who ordered this crime. the victim, journalist Halyna Tereshchuk.

The investigation into the arson of the car of the journalist of Radio Svoboda continues.

As IMI reported, at midnight on January 30, a car belonging to Radio Liberty journalist Halyna Tereshchuk was set on fire in Lviv.

Crimea - 1

  1. In Crimea, the owner of the ATR TV channel Lenur Islamov was charged

25.05.2020 The controlled by Russia Supreme Court of Crimea has begun to consider essentially a criminal case against the owner of the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR and one of the active participants in the civil blockade of Crimea in 2015, Lenur Islamov. He was charged on May 25. The lawyer Oleksiy Ladyn told it to the correspondent of the Krym.Realii (RFE/RL).

Ladyn said, the Russian prosecutor's office in Crimea accused Islamov of three crimes: "forming an illegal armed group", "preparing and committing sabotage acts", as well as "public calls to violate Russia's territorial integrity."

"The first court hearing on the merits took place. The prosecutor announced the indictment, supporting it in full. The prosecutor's office found that my client's guilt has been proved. The defense did not admit guilt in full. Assessing not only the indictment but also the criminal case, I have the impression that the actions committed against my client are not confirmed by the evidence in the case file, "Ladin commented.

Earlier, it was reported that the board of the Russian-controlled Supreme Court of Crimea has begun consideration of a criminal case against Islamov. It is stated that he is accused of "organizing an illegal armed formation, committing sabotage," as well as six episodes of Art. 280.1 of the Criminal Code of Russia - "Public appeals to take action aimed at violating the territorial integrity of Russia."

Islamov told Krym.Realii that he does not intend to personally attend the court sessions of the Supreme Court of Crimea. He called the Russian trial against himself in the Crimea a rigged one.

The Russian FSB opened a criminal case against Lenur Islamov in October 2015 and declared him federal wanted.

In December 2015, the court in Crimea seized Islamov's property on the peninsula. On December 21, Natalia Poklonskaya, then the Russian prosecutor in Crimea, said Islamov had been charged in absentia with sabotage. Islamov himself called all these decisions illegitimate.

ATR TV channel stopped analog broadcasting on the territory of the annexed Crimea since April 1, 2015, because the broadcaster did not get Russian license. Broadcasting resumed on June 17, 2015: the TV channel moved to Kyiv.

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This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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