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Freedom of Speech Barometer for May 2022

07.06.2022, 17:05

49 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine have been recorded by the Institute of Mass Information in May. Of these, 45 were committed by russia against the media and journalists on Ukrainian territory.

These crimes include murder, wounding and abduction of journalists, shelling of filming crews and TV towers, threats, cyber attacks on Ukrainian media websites, disabling Ukrainian broadcasting, media outlets closing due to russian shelling, inability to work and print newspapers due to infrastructure destruction, and more. At the same time, IMI has recorded four cases of freedom of speech violations for which the Ukrainian side is responsible.

These are the monitoring data of the Institute of Mass Information.

Namely, on May 30, journalist of the French BFMTV TV channel Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was killed by russian shelling in Luhansk region. Two of his colleagues were also injured by the shelling – Maxim Brandstetter received a shrapnel wound to his left thigh and a concussion, Oksana Leuta suffered a concussion. The journalists were working on a story about evacuation from Lysychansk, they were in an armored evacuation vehicle during the shelling.

Two more journalists were injured as they came under russian fire on May 28 near the bridge to Severodonetsk (Luhansk region). British journalist Alex Chan Tsz Yuk was injured, and Ukrainian fixer Mykola Pastukh received a shrapnel wound to his right arm.

In May, the russian forces abducted Oleksiy Vorontsov, a Suspilne Kherson engineer, in the temporarily occupied Kherson. As of now, the premises of "Suspilne Kherson" are controlled by the occupying forces of the russian federation. The occupiers have repeatedly tried to find the files of the branch's employees in order to recruit, interrogate and obtain information from them. On May 21, it became known that the russian occupation forces had released Oleksiy Vorontsov. He is alive and at home in the temporarily occupied Kherson.

Journalists from Hromadske, the Estonian ERR, the Estonian Postimees, the German Welt, Zaborona, AFP, TSN, Radio Liberty, and ICTV have come under russian fire in the Donbas and in Kharkiv region.

IMI also recorded cases of threats that journalists received from russia. These were mostly letters sent to the editorial email addresses. In their letters, the russians threatened journalists with trials, imprisonment, and being held accountable for "russophobic fakes," and advised them to pack warm clothes for Siberia. Threats about the use of nuclear weapons became a novelty in May. In particular, such a threat was received by the editorial board of the Center for Investigative Journalism "Syla Pravdy." The letter threatened to fire such weapons on Halychyna and Volhyn. The text was accompanied by various images depicting russian soldiers.

In addition, the russians continue to carry out cyber attacks on Ukrainian media websites, although the intensity has somewhat decreased. In particular, in May, DDoS attacks on the websites of Odesa.Online and NikVesti, which worked intermittently for several days, were recorded.

russian crimes against journalists and the media have been recorded in eight regions of Ukraine. Journalists most often risked their lives in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where one journalist was killed, four were injured, and came under fire this month.

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

In May, IMI has recorded four cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine for which the Ukrainian side was responsible. These are cases of physical aggression against journalists: two cases of obstruction and threats.

Journalists were threatened, in particular, by a moscow patriarchate supporter and by unknown individuals. Namely, "Chetverta Vlada" journalist Alla Maksymchuk received a threat of "lustration" from a moscow patriarchate supporter. The incident occurred while the journalist was preparing a story about the community's struggle for the opportunity to go to a church controlled by the OCU, not the moscow church.

Serhiy Zaraiskyy, journalist from Chernivtsi and head of the BookInfo portal, said that an unknown person had threatened to kill him and destroy his home. According to the journalist, the threats came to his phone after the publication of the article titled "NABU should take a close look at Osachuk, Head of the Chernivtsi Regional State Administration, for forging the papers of military units and covering up smuggling schemes at the border."

Journalists in Kropyvnytsky and Zaporizhzhia have had their work obstructed. Namely, in Zaporizhia, law enforcement officers banned journalists from several media outlets (061.ua, correspondents from 1+1 and Channel 5) from filming civilian facilities destroyed by russian bombing. The journalists arrived at the site a few hours after the bombing. However, the police did not allow them to film despite the legal timing. It will be recalled that representatives of the authorities and of the Media Movement journalistic community agreed that journalists can publish photos and videos of military facilities 12 hours after the end of hostilities, and 3 hours later in the case of civilian facilities.

Violations have been recorded in four regions: Rivne, Kropyvnytsky, Chernivtsi, and Zaporizhzhia.

russia's crimes

Murders – 1

1. French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff killed by russian shelling in Luhansk region

30.05.2022 On May 30, journalist for the French BFMTV channel Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was killed in a russian shelling attack in Luhansk region.

Head of the Luhansk regional military-civil administration Serhiy Haidai announced this.

According to Haidai, russian troops fired on an evacuation vehicle that was on its way to pick up people.

The journalist received a fatal neck wound.

"Today, our armored evacuation vehicle was going to pick up 10 people from the region and came under enemy fire. Shrapnel from the shells pierced the car's armor, an accredited French journalist who had been covering the event received a fatal neck wound, a patrol policeman was saved by his helmet," Haidai wrote and announced the cessation of the evacuation.

Capturing and abduction of journalists – 1

1. russian occupiers abduct "Suspilne Kherson" engineer Oleksiy Vorontsov

16.05.2022 On May 16 in the temporarily occupied Kherson, the occupying forces of the russian federation abducted "Suspilne Kherson" engineer Oleksiy Vorontsov from his apartment. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

This was reported to the company's management by Oleksiy's wife, according to Suspilne.

The public broadcaster appeals to the Ukrainian authorities and the international community to comprehensively and in all possible ways facilitate the release of Oleksiy Vorontsov.

The company filed a criminal offense report to the Joint Center for Coordination of Search and Release of Persons Illegally Imprisoned as a Result of Armed Aggression of the Russian Federation and to the District Prosecutor's Office of Kherson region.

Suspilne notes that since March 2, 2022, the UA: Kherson team has been working remotely and is the one Ukrainian media in the region which continues to provide the residents of the temporarily occupied territories with truthful information.

As of now, the premises of "Suspilne Kherson" are controlled by the occupying russian forces. The occupiers have repeatedly attempted a search for the branch employees' personal files in order to recruit, interrogate and obtain information from them.

As IMI reported, the russian troops robbed the Kherson branch of Suspilne and are now setting up a propaganda channel.

On March 3 in Kherson, the occupiers took over the premises of Suspilne branch, the staff continues to work remotely. Armed men set up trip wires around the building. In addition, the occupiers, who had seized the television studio and the TV center, cut off the Ukrainian television signal.

The Kherson Regional Prosecutor's Office has launched a criminal investigation into the seizure and mining of the Kherson branch of Suspilne Broadcaster by russian security forces. The proceedings have been opened under Art. 341, part 1 of Art. 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: seizure of state or public buildings, facilities, as well as for violations of the laws and customs of war.

Wounded journalists – 4

1. Three journalists come under russian fire near a bridge to Severodonetsk. One injured

28.05.2022 Two foreign journalists and Ukrainian filmmaker Mykola Pastukh came under russian fire on May 28 near the bridge to Severodonetsk (Luhansk region). As a result of the shelling, Mykola Pastukh received a shrapnel wound to his right arm, and one of the journalists was injured.

Mykola Pastukh told IMI about this.

According to Mykola, he was working with foreign journalists Kaoru Ng (Hong Kong / UK) and Alex Chan Tsz Yuk (UK). Mykola was also filming a documentary about the work of foreign media at the frontline.

Journalists planned to cross the bridge to Severodonetsk and tried to find out if it was safe. At that time, the Ukrainian military approached them and warned of possible shelling. The shelling began just as they were talking to the military.

As a result of the shelling, Mykola was wounded, and Alex Chan Tsz Yuk was injured.

"It hit just as we decided to go back. A mine fell six or seven meters away from me. I received a severe shrapnel wound. I was wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet. However, the explosion blew my helmet off. Everyone had medical tourniquets, but they could not be applied to the part where I was wounded, because it was too high," Mykola Pastukh said.

Mykola is currently in hospital in Lviv, awaiting surgery.

2. Foreign journalist receives a concussion due to russian shelling

28.05.2022 Two foreign journalists and Ukrainian filmmaker Mykola Pastukh came under russian fire on May 28 near the bridge to Severodonetsk (Luhansk region). As a result of the shelling, Mykola Pastukh received a shrapnel wound to his right arm, and one of the journalists was injured.

Mykola Pastukh told IMI about this.

According to Mykola, he was working with foreign journalists Kaoru Ng (Hong Kong / UK) and Alex Chan Tsz Yuk (UK). Mykola was also filming a documentary about the work of foreign media at the frontline.

Journalists planned to cross the bridge to Severodonetsk and tried to find out if it was safe. At that time, the Ukrainian military approached them and warned of possible shelling. The shelling began just as they were talking to the military.

As a result of the shelling, Mykola was wounded, and Alex Chan Tsz Yuk was injured.

"It hit just as we decided to go back. A mine fell six or seven meters away from me. I received a severe shrapnel wound. I was wearing a bulletproof vest and a helmet. However, the explosion blew my helmet off. Everyone had medical tourniquets, but they could not be applied to the part where I was wounded, because it was too high," Mykola Pastukh said.

Mykola is currently in hospital in Lviv, awaiting surgery.

3. French BFMTV journalist Maxim Brandstetter wounded by russian shelling

30.05.2022 On May 30, journalist for the French BFMTV channel Maxim Brandstetter (French citizen), along with the channel's fixer Oksana Leuta (Ukrainian citizen), was injured due to a russian artillery strike on Lysychansk.

This was reported to IMI by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

They were in an evacuation vehicle together with fellow BFMTV journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, who, as IMI previously reported, was killed by the shelling.

According to investigators, the other two French channel representatives were also in the armored car during the shelling. As a result of the shelling, Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff received a shrapnel wound incompatible with life, Maxim Brandstetter suffered a shrapnel wound to the left thigh and a concussion, and Oksana Leuta received a concussion.

The information about this event has been submitted to the Unified Register of pre-trial investigations as a criminal offense under Part 2 of Art. 438 of the Criminal code of Ukraine ("Violation of laws and customs of war").

We remind that journalist of the French BFMTV channel Frederic Leclerc Imhoff received a fatal neck wound while being in the armored evacuation vehicle. He was covering the evacuation of the local residents.

4. French BFMTV fixer Oksana Leuta suffers a concussion due to russian shelling

30.05.2022 On May 30, fixer for the French BFMTV channel Oksana Leuta (Ukrainian citizen), along with the channel's journalist Maxim Brandstetter (French citizen), was injured due to a russian artillery strike on Lysychansk.

This was reported to IMI by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

They were in an evacuation vehicle together with fellow BFMTV journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, who, as IMI previously reported, was killed by the shelling.

According to investigators, the other two French channel representatives were also in the armored car during the shelling. As a result of the shelling, Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff received a shrapnel wound incompatible with life, Maxim Brandstetter suffered a shrapnel wound to the left thigh and a concussion, and Oksana Leuta received a concussion.

The information about this event has been submitted to the Unified Register of pre-trial investigations as a criminal offense under Part 2 of Art. 438 of the Criminal code of Ukraine ("Violation of laws and customs of war").

We remind that journalist of the French BFMTV channel Frederic Leclerc Imhoff received a fatal neck wound while being in the armored evacuation vehicle. He was covering the evacuation of the local residents.

Shelling of journalists – 9

1. Hromadske crew comes under fire while filming a report about evacuation in Donetsk region

05.05.2022 Hromadske crew, under shelling by "Grads," filmed a report on how civilians of Lyman (Donetsk region) are being taken to Dnipro city, according to Detector Media.

The film crew included journalist Anastasia Stanko, videographer Kolyan Pastyko and driver Viktor Andrushchenko.

During the shooting on the road, three shells landed 200 meters away from the Hromadske team and the Lyman residents. Shortly after the evacuation of people, a russian missile hit the road bridge between Raihorodok and Lyman – the Hromadske journalists have traveled across it a dozen times. This route was also used to take the wounded out of Lyman.

In their report, the journalists focused on the work of the police, which evacuates people in need of assistance. "About twenty 200's, even more 300's," the policemen say of the losses during the full-scale war.

Every trip here is risky. "2014 was a walk in the park compared to this. Those who have been under the 'Grads' will understand," Dmytro Zaliznychnyk commented.

"Grads" hit the buses during evacuation. The police officers go to dilapidated houses in Lyman during intervals, when the russian occupiers reload their equipment. In the end, they manage to bring out a wounded man.

2. Estonian and German journalists come under russian fire in the Donbas

12.05.2022 Estonian ERR correspondents Anton Alekseev and Kristjan Svirgsden, Estonian Postimees journalists Jaanus Piirsalu and Dmitry Kotyukh, and German Welt correspondent Alfred Hackensberger came under russian fire in Donetsk region near Siversk, Detector Media reports.

A few kilometers away from the city, their cars had to stop because of the shelling.

"It was a UAV, we heard the whistling of a missile that fell and hit a residential area. And then it was the typical fireworks: individual bombs falling down for more than a minute," Alfred Hackensberger described the incident as he turned on the livestream from a safe place.

“From the place where we stopped, it was clear that the city was under heavy fire and many houses were already on fire. After lying under fire for 15 minutes, we decided to leave this unpleasant spot. Especially since the fragments of cluster munitions were already flying relatively close to us," Anton Alekseev said in his report.

No casualties of the shelling have been reported.

3. TSN filming crew comes under cluster bombing in Maryinka

12.05.2022 "1+1" TV channel's TSN filming crew came under cluster bombing in Maryinka, Donetsk region, during the filming, TSN reports.

The story goes that russian troops fire on the city every day from planes, helicopters, "Grads," and artillery.

“Within seconds, there are explosions are all over the central part of the city. Burly serviceman 'Hammer' orders us to lie down and not move. Explosive bits fall just in front of the journalists and the military. The cameraman captures the russians' crime on camera and the group, together with the military, urgently leaves the shelling," the story reads.

The journalists managed to talk to citizens who remain in Maryinka despite the shelling.

It was impossible to talk with them for a long time, because explosions were heard from Donetsk's direction again – the soldiers say that it was an enemy aircraft crushing the elevator and the industrial zone.

The TSN team that came under fire consisted of: Oleksandr Zahorodny, Ivan Holovach, and Vitaliy Ovsyannikov.

4. "Zaborona" journalists come under russian fire in Kharkiv region

15.05.2022 Journalists of the online publication "Zaborona" came under russian fire in Kharkiv region. No one was injured, the newspaper reported on their Telegram channel.

On May 15, "Zaborona" filming crew – cameraman Mykola Dondyuk, journalist Vira Myronova and photographer Ivan Chernichkin – came under heavy russian fire in the village of Cherkasky Tyshky, 25 km north of Kharkiv.

The shelling began during a video interview with a villager.

The publication also posted a video of the shelling.

Earlier, correspondents for Estonian ERR Anton Alekseev and Kristjan Svirgsden, as well as Postimees journalists Jaanus Piirsalu and Dmitry Kotyukh and German Welt correspondent Alfred Haberger, came under russian fire in Donetsk region near the city of Siversk.

The filming crew of "1+1" TV channel's TSN came under russian cluster bombing in the town of Maryinka in Donetsk region while filming a report.

5. ICTV filming crew comes under russian artillery fire in Donetsk region

18.05.2022 ICTV channel filming crew came under russian artillery fire in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region.

This was reported on "Fakty ICTV" website.

The enemy opened missile fire as journalists Tetyana Nakonechna, Yevhen Turta, and Oleh Tsymbalyuk were working on the story.

One of the missiles landed several dozen meters away. No one was injured.

6. AFP filming crew comes under fire on Bakhmut–Lysychansk highway

23.05.2022 AFP filming crew came under fire on their way from Bakhmut to Lysychansk, Hromadskе reports.

The according video was posted on Twitter on May 23 by the head of the AFP photo department in Greece, Aris Messinis, who had been in the car during the shooting. The video shows that the shelling is happening on both sides of the highway.

It is by this road that people are being evacuated every day, Hromadske reports. According to the publication, russian troops have been shelling the highway for more than two weeks. They are 7-8 km away from Popasna and are trying to cut this road to encircle the Ukrainian forces in Luhansk region. 

In addition, Aris Messinis published photos from the cities of Soledar and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

As IMI reported, on May 18, ICTV filming crew came under russian fire in Donetsk region.

Earlier, Estonian ERR correspondents Anton Alekseev and Kristjan Svirgsden, Estonian Postimees journalists Jaanus Piirsalu and Dmitry Kotyukh, and German Welt correspondent Alfred Hackensberger came under russian fire in Donetsk region, near the city of Siversk.

1+1 channel's TSN filming crew came under russian cluster bombing in Maryinka, Donetsk region, while filming a story.

7. Radio Liberty journalists come under fire while filming the hostilities in the Donbas

28.05.2022 Radio Liberty correspondent Maryan Kushnir and photographer Serhiy Nuzhnenko came under fire by russian troops near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on May 28. Journalists had been filming a story about the Ukrainian army's counterattack, and the positions of the UAF were fired upon by russian artillery.

This was stated by Maryan Kushnir in a comment to IMI.

He said that the blast had damaged the windshield of his car, which had been parked nearby.

"I was filming the Ukrainian military counterattacking. Artillery was firing at them. I was nearby, my car was nearby. In this hell, a shell landed nest to me. Damaged the glass. They didn't shoot at me purposefully. I have been in battles before. Obviously, there is shooting there. In fact, no one fired at me. Everyone was being fired on because it is the active phase of the hostilities. I was just there," he said, adding that the car was hidden, but it just so happened that a shell fell nearby.

Maryan Kushnir provided IMI with the video he had filmed with his colleague that day.

As IMI reported, on March 11, Maryan Kushnir suffered a concussion as a result of a russian attack in Kyiv region.

8. The occupiers start shelling Bakhmut as journalist records an interview with local residents

28.05.2022 In Bakhmut (Donetsk region) on May 28, the russian occupiers opened fire while Oleksiy Matsuka, journalist and editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian foreign language broadcasting channel UA, was recording his conversation with local residents.

The journalist reported it for Dom channel from the site.

Two Bakhmut residents had been telling the journalist how they survived in a wartime city. And at that moment, the sound of an explosion came.

No casualties were reported, as there was a shelter nearby.

9. TSN filming crew comes under the enemy's fire during a live report

29.05.2022 The TSN filming crew came under russian missile fire near Bakhmut in Donetsk region, TSN reports.

This happened on May 29 during a live report performed by journalist Oleksandr Zahorodniy and cameraman Ivan Holovach.

The journalist was speaking on air about the shelling of the Bakhmut–Lysychansk highway, by which the locals are trying to escape the fire, but fall into traps. About the difficult conditions in which they manage to break through.

At this time, enemy missiles began to hit the place where the filming crew was. The filming crew began to take cover in a shelter. While lying down already, the journalist had to finish the broadcast.

Oleksandr Zahorodniy and Ivan Holovach were not injured during the shelling.

As IMI reported, in early May, "1+1" TV channel's TSN filming crew (Oleksandr Zahorodniy, Ivan Holovach, Vitaliy Ovsyannikov) came under cluster bombing in Maryinka, Donetsk region, while filming a report.

Persecution of journalists, threats, intimidation – 13

1. Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua receives new threats from rf

03.05.2022 On May 3, the editorial office Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua received another rhymed letter with threats sent from the russian federation.

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

The threats came from mail.ru email service and were sent by user "Irina Chukarova." The letter threatens criminal liability: "Russian troops are liberators, their operation saves lives and stability, and you, propaganda spreaders, will not escape criminal responsibility!"

We remind that earlier, the editors of the 061.ua website had already received similar threats – on March 25, March 26 and March 28, April 3, 4, April 7-11, April 17, April 25.

2. russian occupiers threaten Kharkiv media and attack their websites

04.05.2022 A number of Kharkiv journalists received personal threats from the russian occupiers, and DDoS attacks are being carried out on the websites where they work.

The editors of KHARKIV Today, Slobidsky Krai, Nakypilo, InsiderNews, and 057.ua reported this to IMI representative in Kharkiv region.

"Or website is constantly under DDoS attacks. Once, a letter came from some scammers, i think they were threatening to bring the website down and were demanding $ 5,000. Roskomnadzor wrote to us, demanded to remove a post and threatened to block the website in russia, although they have already blocked us back in 2018, I believe," a KHARKIV Today journalist said.

A letter about a criminal case being opened and threats of interrogation and imprisonment was received by the edoitorial team of the Kharkiv city website 057.ua. In addition, the journalists are receiving calls from russian phone numbers threatening personal violence.

The published videos and photos of russia's crimes in Ukraine have led to threats against three members of the Nakypilo media group, as well as a DDoS attack on the website. The editorial team received the following message: "You didn't get it the first time, so we'll say it again. We will continue to bring down your websites unless you stop the pipeline of fakes about russia."

Slobidsky Krai and InsiderNews also suffered attacks on the websites. "Nobody wrote to us, there has been an attempt to hack the website's admin account in late February – early March. And then Roskomnadzor just blocked the website in russia," commented the editor-in-chief of InsiderNews.

All media outlets have taken additional digital security measures and continue their fight in the information field.

3. russian hackers threaten Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua again

05.05.2022 Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua received threats from the Noname057(16) hacker group again. Yet another email arrived on May 5 from an inbox.ru address.

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

The sender of the letter signed as "Alexandrovich Tsisar." The letter contains a rhyme with the Latin letters used as symbols of the russian occupiers. "V is for VICTORY, Z is for OURZ! Game's over for you and your lying propagandist mouths! Regards from NoName057(16)!" the email reads.

4. Volyn journalist receives identical threats three times

08.05.2022 Volyn.Online website editor Maryana Metelska received rhymed threats, which she had already received from the hacker group Noname057(16).

She told this to IMI representative in Volyn region.

She last received such an email on May 8, where she was being threatened with imprisonment.

"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 editorial team of Volyn.Online had received a poem of the same content on April 25.

On May 5, the editorial mail received the following message: "V is for VICTORY, Z is for OURZ, game's over for you and your lying propagandist mouths." The same letter had been received on April 24 this year.

On May 3, a letter stating that the russian troops were "liberators" was sent to the editors. The editors had already received an email about it this spring.

In addition, in April, the editorial office was threatened that their website would be "brought down," as was the case with Racurs.ua and Konkurent news agencies.

5. Two Volyn media outlets receive threats about accountability for "russophobic fakes" from russians

09.05.2022 The editors of Volyn.Online and Konkurent news agency received threats from the Noname057(16) hacker group again.

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

Namely, on May 9, the editorial office of Volyn.Online received an email in russian with the following text: "Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers defeated the Nazis in 1945, and we will defeat the neo-Nazis in 2022! We are doing the right thing! The enemy will be defeated! Victory will be ours!"

According to journalist Maryana Metelska, this is the 15th email they've received from the "russian world" representatives. However, they do not always write new threats. Maryana Metelska has received the same threats from Noname057(16) three times.

Konkurent editor Andriy Luchyk said that on May 9, they received threats of the following content: "All of Hitler's accomplices had to answer for their actions. Don't you think that you will also have to answer for your russophobic fakes, discrediting the actions of the russian armed forces and lying to your own audience? And, perhaps, very soon."

According to Luchik, the editorial office has already received a dozen letters from the russians.

Earlier, russian hackers had threatened to "down the websites" of Racurs.ua, "Konkurent" news agency, and "Volyn Online".

6. Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua receives emails with new propaganda talking points

09.05.2022 On May 9, the editors of the Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua received an email from russians that contained a new rethoric. It mentions "Western donors" and "supervisors from the Ukrainian secret services."

This was reported by the staff members to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

Namely, an email from "Alexandrovich Tsisar" with the subject "Must be read", sent from the mail inbox.ru, reads:

"The money you receive for inciting hatred against russians will not save you. Your supervisors from the Ukrainian secret services and the government will forget you as soon as their own skins are in danger. Your Western donors, curators, and sponsors will not help you, either. You will just be thrown away as used things that aren't needed anymore." The letter was signed by the hacker group NoName057(16).

Earlier, russians had threatened a number of Volyn and Zaporizhzhia media outlets with imprisonment, interrogation, and torture.

7. Zaporizhzhia website inform.zp.ua threatened by russian hackers

10.05.2022 The editors of Zaporizhzhia website inform.zp.ua have received three new threatening letters between April 30 and May 5. Two of them were signed by the hacker group NoName057(16). This was reported by the editor-in-chief of the website Eric Brynza to IMI representative in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The letters came from mail.ru addresses. Namely, the letter dated April 30, from the sender Cheslava Solovei, says: "You didn't get it the first time – we'll say it again. We will keep downing your websites until you stop the pipeline of fakes about russia." The signature contained a link to the Telegram channel of the hacker group Noname057(16).

On May 2, the editorial office received another letter, this time from Iryna Chyurakova, with rhymed threats. The message read: "Russian troops are liberators, their operation saves lives and stability, and you, propaganda spreaders, will not escape criminal responsibility!"

And on May 5, the editorial mail received another threat from hackers Noname of the following content: "V is for VICTORY, Z is for OURZ! Game's over for you and your lying propagandist mouths! Regards from NoName057(16)!"

According to the website's editor-in-chief, threatening emails from russia come systematically. To reduce the flow of threats, the editorial office decided, in particular, to block all messages from unknown numbers on Telegram.

8. russians send threats to Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua again

15.05.2022 On May 15, the editors of the of Zaporizhzhia city website 061.ua received another threatening email from russia, warning them of criminal responsibility under russian law.

The website's staff reported this to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

Namely, the letter from user "Salavat Golovenkina" reads: “Have you heard that the Ukrainian authorities have already been issued a secret order to move all gold and currency reserves out of the country? Soon Zelensky will run away. And all those who supported the Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime, including informational support, will be held accountable for their crimes under the law of the russian federation. Get ready, propagandists!”

We remind that earlier, the editors of the 061.ua website had already received similar threats – on March 25March 26 and March 28April 3, 4April 7-11April 17April 25.

The editors have also been repeatedly threatened by NoName057(16) hacker group.

9. russians begin to threaten journalists with nuclear weapons

18.05.2022 The editors of the "Syla Pravdy" Center for Journalistic Investigations received threats about nuclear weapons from russia.

This was reported by "Syla Pravdy" manager Yuriy Horbach to the IMI representative in Volyn region.

The email in russian arrived to the editorial office on May 18: "You Banderites, Galicia and Volyn are our Russian land of the Ruriks. Your building is surrounded by FBS commandos! Resistance is useless! Come out with your hands up and put your hands on the ground! One attempt to sick the Jewish devil on our souls – and you're all dead! We will rip you apart and burn you with napalm, run you over with tanks! If the OUN-UPA resists, we will strike Galicia and Volyn with nuclear weapons, which we have and you don't!"

The sender of the letter is Pavel Ivanov-Ostoslavsky. The text was accompanied by various pictures depicting russian soldiers.

According to Horbach, this is the first time that the editorial team received such a letter.

Earlier, threats have been received by the editorial offices of Volyn.Online, Rakurs.ua, Konkurent news agency, and Konkurent TV. Most threats had to do with imprisonment, torture, and interrogation.

10. Zaporizhzhia website 061 receives threats of trials and imprisonment from russia again

20.05.2022 The editorial office of Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua received a new batch of threats from russia. Journalists are being threatened with lawsuits under russian law and with imprisonment for spreading "anti-russian fakes."

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

Thus, on May 20, the editorial office received a letter from the bk.ru email service from Galimdzyan Tsvetnova with the following content: "By spreading anti-russian fakes against russia, you are paving the way to a prison cell for yourself, dear propagandists. You will not escape responsibility with all the severity of russian law."

The next day, May 21, the editorial office received another email with the topic "Responsibility is not far off!" from "Maram Kiryutina." The letter was sent from the list.ru email service. "You are all in the hands of russian law enforcement officers as accomplices in the crimes of the so-called Ukrainian authorities against civilians. When the russian army comes to your cities, you will have to answer to the court for all your offenses," the email said.

We remind that earlier, the editors of the 061.ua website had already received similar threats – on March 25, March 26 and March 28, April 3, 4, April 7-11, April 17, April 25, May 15. The editors have also been threatened by NoName057(16) hacker group.

11. Zaporizhzhia website inform.zp.ua threatened from russia again

24.05.2022 The editorial mail of the Zaporizhzhia website inform.zp.ua received another threatening message from russia. The employees of the online publication were told that russian law enforcement officers already have their personal details.

The website's editor-in-chief Eric Brynza told this to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

According to him, an email from user "Raurd Zhukanova" has arrived from the inbox.ru email service on May 21. The email with the subject "Heads up, they are coming for you soon!" reads: "The personal details of all employees of your media have are long in the hands of russian authorities. That is why you will soon be held accountable for all the crimes you have committed in support of Zelenskyy's Banderite junta!"

According to the editor-in-chief, the number of such threats has decreased. If earlier, the editorial office used to receive them almost every day, now the number of such letters has significantly decreased.

We remind that the inform.zp.ua publication had been receiving threats from the russian federation regularly.

12. russians threaten 061.ua journalists with jail, advise them to pack warm clothes for Siberia

25.05.2022 The editorial office of Zaporizhzhia website 061.ua received another batch of threats due to its journalistic activities. This time they were advised to start packing their warm clothes for Siberia. The editors reported this to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzhia region.

On May 25, the journalists received a letter like this from user Ulyana Gordeeva, sent via list.ru email service. It read: "None of those journalists and media workers who serve the criminal regime of Ukraine will escape punishment for violating the law on journalistic activities! You have a prison term waiting for you! Start packing your warm clothes: it's not so hot in russian prisons in the North and in Siberia!"

We remind that earlier, the editors of the 061.ua website had already received similar threats – on March 25March 26 and March 28April 3, 4April 7-11April 17April 25May 15May 23. The editors have also been threatened by NoName057(16) hacker group.

13. Roskomnadzor demands that "Vilne Radio" delete content about the russian army's crimes

26.05.2022 Roskomnadzor demands that "Vilne Radio," which broadcasts in Bakhmut (Donetsk region) and the neighboring settlements, remove content about the russian army's crimes against civilians during the first month of the full-scale invasion. The russian institution's demand was expressed in an email to the editorial office, sent on April 14.

"They threatened to block our website," "Vilne Radio" editors said on their Facebook page.

The journalists note that after Roskomnadzor's letter, the number of readers from russia has significantly decreased.

"Yes, a lot of russians who probably liked to see quality content used to follow us," "Vilne Radio" said, adding:

“We can advise russians who want to read up-to-date and truthful information to follow our Telegram channel t.me/DONregion and set up a VPN. (you can learn how to do it here: cutt.ly/KH9iZQm)."

It should be noted that the russian register of banned websites currently contains information about the block of only one of "Vilne Radio's" articles, which was mentioned in Roskomnadzor's email.

It will be recalled that in March, the editorial office of "Vilne Radio," which broadcasts in Donetsk region, received threats via email.

Shelling and seizure of TV towers – 1

1. The occupiers shell a TV tower in Orikhove, Zaporizhzhia region

25.05.2022 On May 25, the russian occupiers shelled a television tower located in Orikhiv town, Zaporizhzhia region.

This was announced by the spokesman of the Defense Forces in the Zaporizhzhia area, Colonel Ruslan Tkachuk, in his rundown on the Defence Forces' activities in deterring and repelling russian armed aggression in Zaporizhzhia region.

According to the website "Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine," the TV network is broadcasting more than 20 all-Ukrainian and regional TV channels. Among them are Suspilne Zaporizhzhia, TC "TV-5," and TRC "Alex."

Attacks on media offices – 1

1. KHARKIV Today office damaged due to the war

31.05.2022 The office and press center of the KHARKIV Today news agency was damaged in the first days of the full-scale russian war against Ukraine.

This was announced by the publication's editor-in-chief Yulia Ageyeva.

According to her, on February 24, the editorial staff did not go to work. And on March 2, the KHARKIV Today office and press center were damaged by missile strikes on the center of Kharkiv. There was no one in the building, so the journalists were not injured.

"The shock wave from the explosions in the buildings of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs shattered all the windows; one of the windows facing the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was ripped out of the wall together with the frame. The shards cut into furniture, some equipment and documents in the editorial office. In the press center, the interior doors and their doorframes were ripped out. All the houseplants died during the frost, and it is unknown what happened to the communications," Yulia Ageeva said.

A few days later, the surviving equipment was removed. Now the editorial team works remotely within the Kharkiv region. The head of the press center evacuated to Poltava, where he is doing volunteer work.

Cyber crimes – 2

1. Powerful cyber attack impedes the work of Odesa.Online media outlet

05.05.2022 On May 5, the editorial office of Odesa.Online received an email with a threatening message from representatives of the NoName057(16) hacker group, after which the publication suffered a cyber attack.

This was announced to IMI representative Odesa region by the media project's manager Vadym Tyutyukin.

The editorial office was warned that "your game is over." On the same day, a powerful DDoS attack began, which has been impeding full operation of the website for the second day in a row.

“We inform you that today, your russophobic and deceitful resource odessa.online was attacked by hackers from NoName057(16). Until you stop your malicious activities of discrediting the actions of the russian federation and inciting hatred against russian citizens on the pages of your website, your resource will continue to fall under our DDoS attacks!" the letter to the editors said.

2. "NikVesti" website is down due to a DDoS attack

18.05.2022 On May 18, Mykolaiv online publication "NikVesti" suffered a DDoS-attack.

The website's editor-in-chief Oleh Derenyuha reported about it to the IMI representative in Mykolaiv region.

According to him, the attack has been ongoing since 15:22, the technicians are working to solve the problem. The publication also turned for help to their partners – Google's Project Shield system.

"As of 3:22 p.m., the NikVesti website is under a DDoS attack and out of function. Exactly two hours later, at 5:22 p.m., the overload on the server has tripled. We are working to resolve this issue. We have also contacted our partners. 'NikVesti' is connected to Google's Project Shield system, which protects media from digital attacks," Oleh Derenyuha said.

He does not deny that the source of the attack is the russian federation.

"It is possible that someone in russia is upset with our content. Last night, for example, we received an official warning letter from Yandex, stating that they are forced to turn off 'NikVesti's' news because the publication with the intercepted conversation between russian soldiers is violates their rules and contains obscene language," Oleh Derenyuha said.

As of 6:18 p.m., the NikVesti website is still unavailable.

Blocking Internet access to media – 1

1. Svoi.city website blocked in russia

09.05.2022 Roskomnadzor has blocked the Ukrainian online magazine Svoi.city in the russian federation. This was announced by the website's coordinator Gayane Avakyan.

"We have been blocked in russia! It has finally happened! So we are doing everything right!" Gayane wrote.

On the other hand, Gayane noted, their publication was read by many people in russia and it was where they received truthful information about the war in eastern Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, the number of users from russia has tripled.

The russian prosecutor general's office approved the decision to block the website on February 24, 2022 – the day of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine, – but the first block occurred on March 17.

"They used a block mask – all the pages of the website together with the domain and subdomains are blocked," Gayane Avakyan said in her comment to IMI representative.

The online magazine "Svoi.Sity" tells about the lives of people in eastern Ukraine on both sides of the front line, about the lives of migrants, about Ukrainian refugees abroad. The authors of the magazine write manuals for solving legal problems faced by migrants and residents of the occupied territories.

Disabling Ukrainian broadcasting – 3

1. In Mariupol, the occupiers are spreading propaganda under the name and logo of "Priazovsky Rabochy" newspaper

11.05.2022 In Mariupol, the occupiers use the name and logo of the newspaper "Priazovsky Rabochy" to spread propaganda. The editor-in-chief of the publication Olena Kalaitan wrote about this on her Facebook, Detector Media reports.

"Today I learned that in Mariupol they are giving out an alleged fresh issue of 'Priazovsky Rabochy' together with the 'humanitarian aid' – with our logo on it, but, of course, not our Ukrainian content.

"Well, our editorial office has predicted in advance that the occupiers would use the trust of our readers over the years and the credibility of the 'Priazovsky Rabochy' newspaper, which we have been – and are – diligently developing and preserving.

Dear readers, I ask you not to read all that the collaborationist government is now publishing as our position: the Ukrainian editors of 'Priazovsky Rabochy' have nothing to do with any line of this newly published newspaper," the statement reads.

The last issue of this newspaper was published on February 23. After the start of the full-scale russian aggression, Olena Kalaitan sent a letter to the chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine stating that the publication was suspending its publication and that any further use of the brand would be illegal.

As IMI reported, "Priazovsky Rabochy" newspaper is one of the media outlets in Donetsk region which ceased their work due to the occupation.

2. The occupiers connect Berdyansk to three russian radio stations

27.05.2022 Crimean engineers have connected the russian-occupied Berdyansk (Zaporizhzhia region) to three russian radio stations.

This was reported by the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration (ZRMA).

According to the ZRMA, in addition to this, radio "Krym" is broadcasting the news from the occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, which the propagandists call "liberated," every hour.

"And finally, about the rubbish promises of the russian occupiers. On their propaganda resources, the invaders promise to develop a system of subsidies for farmers, create a new system of taxes, supply of products and raw materials, and also announce that Zaporizhia and Kherson regions will switch to russian license plates," said the military administration.

It is also reported that in Berdyansk, the occupiers are persuading the locals to switch to the russian operators' mobile networks. At the same time, the Ukrainian mobile connection is being jammed by the russian military.

3. In occupied Izyum, the invaders issue a propaganda leaflet, but they are not sure about the title

31.05.2022 A propaganda leaflet has been issued in occupied Izyum (Kharkiv region). In it, the occupiers urge locals to go to work and promise them a "bright future."

Anna Chernenko, a journalist from Kharkiv, told this to the IMI representative, citing local residents.

"But for now they're offering to work for rations. At the same time, they encourage the locals to go out and build a new life with great pathos. And that same 'newspaper' reported that the so-called mayor of Izyum had already been elected, although even the local collaborating authorities had not heard of any such so-called elections," the journalist noted.

According to Anna Chernenko, the locals write on social media that the leaflet was issued by a security guard from one of the local banks.

"There is even some strange business with the title of this 'newspaper:' one page says that it is 'Izyumsky Telegraph,' and another says that it is 'Izyumsky Vestnik.' That is, they haven't made up their minds yet not only on the mayor, but also on the title of the newspaper," the journalist said.

According to the leaflet, the self-proclaimed mayor is Vladyslav Solokov. According to the Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center, Sokolov is a former law enforcement officer. He was a candidate for the post of Izyum mayor in 2020 from the Nash Krai party. During his run, he stated that he was the head of the sector for individuals' assets banking security in PJSC KV Oschadbank.

Media whose shutdown due to russian occupation became known in May – 9

1. Modern culture magazine "SHO" closes down

Due to the full-scale russian-Ukrainian war, the literary magazine "SHO" was forced to close down.

This was announced by the publication's editor-in-chief Oleksandr Kabanov on his Facebook page, Chytomо informs.

"Now my employees and I are completely out of work. War and Putin, god damn him. There has never been such a unique and large-scale educational project, dare I say, in the whole world. The magazine had been published in Russian and Ukrainian for 17 years. Full color, hard cover, all over Ukraine and beyond. It was the work of my whole life," he wrote.

The publication's website continues to operate.

SHO Magazine is a russian- and Ukrainian-language magazine dedicated to literature and culture. It had been published in Kyiv since 1995. The publication had been created as a humanitarian project aimed at expanding the Ukrainian cultural space.

"Thank you to everyone who was there and to those I wrote about. It was my crystal temple and my city of sin. Keep text notes about yourself, it is the history that lasts forever. It's endless," wrote one of the magazine's contributors, Oleksandr Proletarsky.

The "Kyivsky Lavry" International Literary Festival was also held by the magazine.

Zaporizhzhia region: "Zaporizka Pravda," MIG, "Avoska" (a separate appendice to MIG), "Panorama" newspapers, "Akimovsky Vestnik" website.

Kropyvnytsky: "Vechirnia Hazeta" newspaper.

Odesa region: "Porto Franco" newspaper, A1 TV channel.

THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH SITUATION IN UKRANE FOR WHICH THE UKRANIAN SIDE IS RESPONSIBLE

Physical aggression

Threats – 2

1. moscow patriarchate supporter threatens lustration upon Rivne journalist

19.05.2022 "Chetverta Vlada" journalist Alla Maksymchuk received a lustration threat from a moscow patriarchate support.

This is reported in "Chetverta Vlada's" article "The Spiritual Front: how a Rivne region community defends their church, occupied by the Orthodox christians of the moscow patriarchate."

The incident occurred while the journalist was preparing a story about the community's struggle for the right to go to a church controlled by the OCU and not the moscow patriarchate.

The story is about the struggle of the believers in the Korets community, who had switched from the moscow patriarchate to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019 and officiated their ownership of the church. Despite this, the people are facing oppression and cannot attend their own church, as it is ruled by a priest of the moscow patriarchate.

While working of the story, Alla Maksymchuk tried to get a comment from one of the ardent supporters of the moscow patriarchate, Volodymyr Burcheni. However, instead of an answer to her question, she heard a threat:

"After the war is over, we will conduct a lustration, and I will save your number, and where you are, and how you are, I will save the text messages that you write to me, I will save them. Do you agree? We will have it, there will be a lustration."

"I don't understand a thing, what does lustration have to do with this, I am a journalist."

"There will be a lustration, and we will find out what you are and where you are from, and all that."

The journalist said that she was trying to get a comment for the sake of a balanced story. However, in the story, no representative of the MP, including the priest, justifies their position. "I made the conclusion that this man could not even give arguments for his support of the moscow patriarchate, so he resorted to some kind of manipulations," Alla Maksymchuk said.

As IMI reported, in April, the day before Easter, the Secretary Archimandrite of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy (moscow patriarchate) Mykyta Storozhuk threatened to declare war on journalist, head of the BookInfo news portal Serhiy Zaraisky, according to BookInfo.

On April 10, Chernivtsi journalist Halyna Yeremitsa was threatened by a moscow patriarchate parishioner while filming on the territory of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Mykhalcha, Chernivtsi region.

2. BookInfo editor reports receiving threats of being murdered and having his home destroyed

31.05.2022 Serhiy Zaraisky, a journalist from Chernivtsi and the editor of the BookInfo portal, said that an unknown person had threatened to kill him and destroy his home.

He announced this on his Facebook page.

According to the journalist, the threats arrived to his phone number after one of his publications.

"Fifteen minutes after the publication of my article on the BookInfo Internet portal that I run, titled 'NABU should take a close look at Osachuk, Head of the Chernivtsi Regional State Administration, for forging the papers of military units and covering up smuggling schemes at the border,' I received three phone calls, at two or three minutes interval, from an unknown person threatening to kill me and destroy my home. I consider these threats quite real," he wrote.

In a comment to the IMI representative, Serhiy Zaraisky said that the unknown person used obscene language with numerous insults and directly stated: “I will come back and kill you! I will burn down your house, I will burn down the office!"

Also, the journalist added, the unknown person told him: “Why do you write so much about Osachuk and Muntyan? There is a war going on now! What, you have nothing else to do? You have nothing to write about? Why are you riling the people up?"

Serhiy Zaraysky notes that this is the first time in over 20 years of his journalistic work that he has received direct death threats. Immediately after the threatening calls, the journalist filed a statement to the authorities. The media outlet also addressed the Independent Media Union of Ukraine and counts on the support of their colleagues.

As IMI reported, in April, the day before Easter, the Secretary-Archimandrite of the Chernivtsi-Bukovyna Eparchy (moscow patriarchate) Mykyta Storozhuk threatened to declare war on a journalist, editor of BookInfo information portal Serhiy Zaraysky, according to BookInfo.

Obstruction – 2

1. Kropyvnytsky journalists denied access to a city council meeting

12.05.2022 "Suspilne Kropyvnytsky" filming crew was not allowed to attend a meeting of the Kropyvnytsky City Council which took place on May 12.

Journalist Oleksandr Smetanko reported this to the IMI representative in Kirovohrad region.

According to the media outlet, despite the lack of a traditional announcement on the council's official website, the channel had information about the meeting and deployed a filming crew to cover the event. However, the journalists were not allowed into the meeting hall, with "agreed-upon restrictions" being mentioned as the reason.

The IMI representative asked the City Council to provide an explanation as to what was the reason for not allowing journalists to the deputies. Within a few days, we received a response from the legal department of the council, which was passed on through a representative of the "press office" Serhiy Yakunin. “Given the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, in order to protect the lives and health of persons who participated in the session, the information about the time and place of the sixth meeting of the ninth session was not published, no online stream was carried out, and no mass media representatives were  invited," the response reads.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko, having studied the "comment" provided by the council, noted that the answer did not explain the reasons for not allowing journalists to the meeting hall. To this end, a decision should have been made in advance to hold a so-called closed session. "If such a document is not available, and the response of the City Council does not indicate its existence, the situation with Kropyvnytsky journalists can be described as a violation of the law on access to information," said the lawyer.

2. Zaporizhzhia authorities prevented the media from filming buildings destroyed by the occupiers

25.05.2022 In Zaporizhzhia, law enforcement officers prevented journalists from several media outlets (061.ua, Channel 1 and Channel 5 correspondents) from filming civilian facilities destroyed by russian bombing. Journalists arrived at the scene a few hours after the bombing, but were not allowed to film.

This was reported by Zaporizhzhia journalists to the IMI representative in Zaporizhzia region.

We remind that on May 25 at about 5 am, four russian missiles were fired on Zaporizhzhia. One missile was shot down by Ukrainian air defense. The bombing has damaged one industrial facility, a bank, one of the largest shopping malls and more than 60 private homes in two parts of the city. Three hours after the bombing, journalists arrived at "Aurora" shopping mall to film.

According to 061.ua photo correspondent Kateryna Klochko, the police did not allow them to film on the spot, even the long shots. “We were there at about 8 am, standing in front of the ribbon that surrounded the mall, but filming from behind it was also not allowed. The police did not allow us to film even the houses nearby, where the windows have been blown out," she said.

Also, according to Klochko, the situation happened to them again near the private sector in another area which was badly affected by the missiles:

The journalist also noted that they had waited for more than an hour for a permission, but only were able to get it when they called the spokesman of Zaporizhia Regional Military Administration, Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ivan Arefyev. "We saw him there and started calling. He allowed those of us who were holding cameras to film near the shopping mall. We also called him in the private sector, he was there and escorted us. But it wasn't right away, we waited for about an hour near the shopping mall, and at least two more hours in the private sector," said Kateryna Klochko.

Channel 5 journalist Denis Rozenkov said that he and the cameraman were near "Aurora" shopping mall at about 7 am, then other Zaporizhzhia and foreign media outlets arrived. "Before leaving, the head of ZRMA told us, 'Please shoot from a distance while the investigative actions are ongoing.'" In fact, we did not manage to do this. I fully support the work of the police and the Security Service who detained all "onlookers" and forced them to delete the videos from their phones. But we are not "onlookers." We have certificates from the Ministry of Defense, some of us have taken courses at the department, where they taught us what, where, when and after what time things may be shown on air, what can and should be filmed. We have papers from the JFO, which are issued by the SSU only in the capital and in Kramatorsk. We have editorial certificates and passes from ZRMA. But Zaporizhzhia policemen and SSU officers repeatedly offered some of us to, excuse me, shove those certificates up somewhere to those who issued this document to the reporters," said the journalist.

According to him, it was forbidden to shoot anything until about 10.30. “Ruslan Tkachuk, a spokesman for the Defense Forces of the Zaporizhia Region, was at the site of the bombing of the mall. I personally heard them send him, excuse me, to hell, too, and tell him to look for ZRMA spokesman Ivan Arefyev. It is good that we managed to call Ivan, who finally took the cameramen and photographers to see the place. At that time, the picture we had was quite weak, because the avenue had been almost entirely cleaned up, as there were no people working in public utilities, rescuers and other services near Aurora," the journalist said.

According to Denis Rozenkov, in the private sector, they were forbidden to film even on the streets that go parallel to the place where the missile had hit. “It is very annoying that there is a clear time frame, there are rules about what we do not show and what we do not talk about, but we still need to do our job. Namely, we need to show that the city is not just fighting, but that it has rescue services that, for example, put out fires. There are communal services that clean up the rubble, there are many other things. In the end, we filmed it all secretly, from a car or in some other way, which is simply unacceptable in these conditions," the journalist said.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko considers such actions as interference with journalistic activity. “The state has not established a clear regulatory ban on filming the places where the missiles hit. However, there is a joint statement from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Defense and the media, but it also says that 'journalists can gather information on the ground immediately after the shelling. At the same time, publishing photos and videos of the events taken by media representatives and journalists at the site of hostilities is allowed after 12 hours in the case of military facilities, and after 3 hours in the case of civilian facilities," said the IMI lawyer.

As IMI reported, on March 28, Ukrainian and foreign journalists, as well as media and public organizations and movements, called on the authorities to take immediate steps to end the harrassment of journalists and to work out clear regulations for covering russian shelling attacks.

The authorities and the Media Movement later agreed that journalists can publish photos and videos of military facilities 12 hours after the end of hostilities, and 3 hours later in the case of civilian facilities. A joint statement has been issued by Media Movement, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Freedom of speech protection

The authorities' response to freedom of speech violations – 3

1. Zhytomyr security guard who threatened a journalist with a bat notified of suspicion

06.05.2022 Zhytomyr region authorities notified a Zhytomyr resident of suspicion for threatening Oleksandr Kryzhanivskyi, a journalist with the Anti-Rating investigation program, and interfering with filming the buildings on Teteriv riverbank.

Zhytomyr regional prosecutor's office reports about it.

The suspicion note was issued under Part 1 of Art. 345-1 (threat of violence made against a journalist due to performance by this journalist of his/her lawful professional activity) and Part 1 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (willful preclusion of lawful professional activities of journalists).

According to the investigation, in August last year, a 63-year-old suspect, calling himself a security guard of private property, forbade the journalist to film a story about the construction of private houses on Teteriv riverbank in Zhytomyr.

"He aggressively threatened the journalist with physical violence, attacking him with a wooden bat with a metal part on it and using obscene language. Thus, the person involved in the case prevented the journalist from performing his professional duties during the filming of private houses built on land plots in the riverbank zone," the prosecutor's office said.

As IMI reported, on August 19, 2021, in Zhytomyr, during the filming of the Anti-Rating investigative journalism program, a security guard of private buildings on the Teteriv riverbank attacked journalist Oleksandr Kryzhanivsky with his fists and threatened him.

Alexander said that they were filming the house where the deputy of the city council and the chairman of the budget commission Yuriy Moiseyev lived.

“We came to shoot the material for a program about building construction on Teteriv riverbank. We learned that the city council deputy and chairman of the budget commission Yuriy Moiseyev has a house here. This information was confirmed to us by a security guard. We also spoke amicably to one of the neighbors, Leonid Krieger, who did not mention who lived next door. At first, the security guard did not interfere with the filming, but when we talked on the phone with one of the owners – the man attacked me, first with obscene swearing and fists, then with a bat. No one was injured, the cameraman and I did not risk our lives and left. I did not call the police. I published information about this situation on my social media, after which I received a call from the prosecutor's office and was told that the case had been opened. Yuriy Moiseyev confirmed in a telephone conversation that he has been living in the house we were filming for about two months now," the journalist said.

Zhytomyr District Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal investigation into the threat of violence against journalists (Part 1 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

2. Prosecutor's Office issues a suspicion notice to the lawyer who attacked "Skhemy" cameraman in Chabany

30.05.2022 On May 30, the Brovary District Prosecutor's Office issued a suspicion notice to a lawyer for attacking the cameraman of the journalist investigation program "Skhemy" (Radio Liberty) Borys Trotsenko in Chabany (Kyiv region) in March of 2019.

This was announced by the Kyiv Regional Prosecutor's Office and the Department for the Protection of Society and State Interests of the National Police of Ukraine.

The lawyer is suspected of deliberately beating a journalist because of their professional activities (Part 2 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

According to the investigation, the "Skhemy" cameraman had been filming the premises of the village council in Chabany, Kyiv region. The lawyer attacked the cameraman and hit the video camera, breaking it. Having examined Borys Trostenko, doctors diagnosed him with a possible concussion.

The issue of choosing a measure of restraint is currently being resolved.

As IMI reported, on March 6, 2019, while filming in Chabany village, Kyiv region, the filming crew of the "Skhemy: Corruption in Detail" program, consisting of journalist Kateryna Kaplyuk and cameraman Borys Trotsenko, was attacked. The incident took place at the Chabany village council. The man injured the cameraman and broke the video camera. After the examination at the hospital, doctors diagnosed Borys Trotsenko with a concussion.

In July 2020, the police dropped the case for the obstruction of the work of "Skhemy" journalists. They were attacked in the spring of 2019 in the village of Chabany in the Kyiv region during the filming of a story about the allocation of state land managed by the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine to private owners. The police stated that reason for dropping the case was "the expiration of the pre-trial investigation period." "Skhemy's" lawyers were going to contest the decision. Subsequently, on May 31, 2021, proceedings were opened on the grounds of a criminal offense under Part 2 of Art. 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

3. Security guard who prevented a journalist from filming a luxury building will face trial

31.05.2022 Prosecutors of the Zhytomyr Regional Prosecutor's Office have filed an indictment against a Zhytomyr resident for threatening Oleksandr Kryzhanivsky, a journalist with the Anti-Rating investigation program, and obstructing the filming of the buildings on the Teteriv River embankment.

Zhytomyr Regional Prosecutor's Office announced this.

The investigation and the according examinations lasted for more than nine months.

According to the investigation, in August last year, a 63-year-old suspect, calling himself a security guard of a private land, forbade the journalist to film a story about the construction of private houses on the Teteriv riverbank in Zhytomyr.

"The defendant… threatened to beat him, swinging a wooden stick at him and swearing obscenely," the Prosecutor's Office stated.

As IMI reported, on August 19, 2021, in Zhytomyr, during the filming of the Anti-Rating journalist investigation program, a security guard of private buildings on the Teteriv riverbank attacked journalist Oleksandr Kryzhanivsky with his fists and threatened him.

Zhytomyr District Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal investigation into the threat of violence against journalists (Part 1 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

On May 6, 2022, Zhytomyr region authorities notified a Zhytomyr resident of suspicion for threatening Oleksandr Kryzhanivsky, a journalist with the Anti-Rating investigation program, and interfering with filming the buildings on Teteriv riverbank. The suspicion note was issued under Part 1 of Art. 345-1 (threat of violence made against a journalist due to performance by this journalist of his/her lawful professional activity) and Part 1 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (willful preclusion of lawful professional activities of journalists).

The journalistic community's response – 4

1. Human rights organizations demand to release Iryna Danilovych, abducted in Crimea, to be released

09.05.2022 Several human rights organizations demand the release of citizen journalist Iryna Danilovych who went missing in Crimea. This is said in the organizations' statement published on ZMINA website.

Namely, the organizations appeal to the international community and foreign governments to:

  • demand that the russian federation urgently identifies the whereabouts of Iryna Danilovych and releases her, as well as all other victims of enforced disappearances in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol;
  • increase diplomatic, economic, and other pressure on the russian federation to accelerate the deoccupation of Crimea, Donbas and all other territories of Ukraine;
  • impose personal sanctions on russian officials and members of the occupation administration involved in the enforced disappearances and other gross human rights violations in all occupied territories of Ukraine.

Here is the full text of the statement:

On April 29, 2022, activist and citizen journalist Iryna Danilovych went missing in the occupied Crimea while returning home from work. On the same day, Russian security forces searched Iryna's house in the village of Vladyslavivka near Feodosia, where she lived with her parents, and seized her phone and equipment.

The representatives of the occupying power showed a search warrant but did not give Iryna’s parents a copy of the document. In addition, security officers did not inform them of the daughter’s whereabouts, only stating that she was allegedly arrested for 10 days for passing some “non-confidential information” to a non-governmental organization. As of May 7, the ninth day after she went missing, it is known nothing about where Iryna Danylovich stays and in what status.

The law enforcement agencies of the occupying power do not take effective measures to search for Iryna Danilovych. Iryna’s father and lawyer filed a report on the abduction with several agencies in Crimea but received no response. In addition, there is information that a video capturing the moment of Iryna being abducted appeared, but Russian law enforcement agencies for a long time refused to attach this video to the case file and provide her father with a copy.

The abduction of Iryna Danilovych has signs of enforced disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. During the search, Russian security officers informed Iryna’s parents about her arrest, but for nine days in a row they have not provided information about her whereabouts, charges brought against her, and the place and time of possible court hearings in her trial. In addition, the detainee does not have access to a lawyer, as a result of which she is deprived of legal aid.

Iryna Danilovych worked as a nurse. She was also a citizen journalist, covered the problems of the health care system in Crimea and disseminated information about the war in Ukraine. Before the war, Danilovych cooperated with several media and human rights initiatives (InZhyr-Media, Crimean Trial) and ran her own project, Crimean Medicine Unwrapped, speaking about the rights of health professionals. Danilovych also took an active part in the trade union movement and headed the Crimean branch of the Alliance of Physicians. Hence, Danilovych was subjected to administrative pressure and was fired from the substance misuse department of the Feodosia Medical Association. She was threatened with a lawsuit because of her trade union activities.

As a reminder, the Russian Federation has imprisoned 13 Crimean journalists. These are Crimean Tatar citizen journalists Osman Arifmetemetov, Marlen Asanov, Asan Akhtemov, Remzi Bekirov, Tymur Ibrahimov, Server Mustafayev, Seyran Saliyev, Ruslan Suleymanov, Rustem Sheikhaliyev, and Amet Suleymanov, as well as journalists Oleksiy Bessarabov, Vladyslav Yesypenko, and Nariman Dzhelyal. Dzhelyal is the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a former journalist.

While the main attention of the international community is focused on the mass atrocities of Russian troops on mainland Ukraine, the reprisals pursued by the Russian occupying power in Crimea remain virtually unnoticed. Arbitrary searches, arrests, torture in places of detention, sentences in politically motivated criminal cases and other gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed on the occupied peninsula.

The abduction of Iryna Danilovych in Crimea amid large-scale enforced disappearances in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and other occupied regions of Ukraine testifies to a real threat to life, health, and freedom of civil society activists, human rights defenders, and other people in all territories temporarily controlled by Russian-occupation forces. In 2014-2021, according to CrimeaSOS data, 44 people became victims of enforced disappearances in the occupied Crimea, the fate and whereabouts of 15 of them are still unknown.

In view of the above, we call on the international community, including UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe Steering Committee on Media and Information Society, PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, PACE General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, representatives of the EU, European External Action Service, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and International Committee of the Red Cross, within all their possible powers and mandates to:

  • Demand that the Russian Federation urgently determine the whereabouts and release Irina Danilovych and all other victims of enforced disappearances in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
  • Assist the Government of Ukraine in finding and investigating cases of enforced disappearances in the occupied territories.
  • Provide comprehensive support to victims of enforced disappearances, their relatives, as well as victims of other gross human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • Continue to monitor and document human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the occupied Crimea and include their regular reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine.

We call on the governments of foreign countries to:

  • Increase diplomatic, sanctions, and other pressure on the Russian Federation to accelerate the de-occupation of Crimea, Donbas, and all other territories of Ukraine.
  • Impose personal sanctions on Russian officials and employees of the occupation administration involved in enforced disappearances and other gross human rights violations in all occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • Provide comprehensive support to victims of enforced disappearances, their relatives, as well as victims of other gross human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in all occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • Use the mechanism of universal jurisdiction to prosecute persons involved in enforced disappearances, torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in all occupied territories of Ukraine.

The statement was signed by: CrimeaSOS, Regional Center for Human Rights, Human Rights House Crimea, Human Rights Center ZMINA, Center for Civil Liberties, Institute of Mass Information, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, Cherkasy Human Rights Center, Open Dialogue Foundation, Regional Council of Ukrainians of Crimea, Taurian Humanitarian Platform, Human Rights Center "Action," Crimean Human Rights Group, "Almenda" Civic Education Center, Sova Expert Group, Association of Relatives of the Kremlin Political Prisoners, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Union of Internally Displaced Persons, Crimean Center for Business Cooperation "Ukrainian House," National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

2. The media community calls to exclude pro-russian hosts from participating in national telethons

12.05.2022 Ukrainian journalists and human rights groups are calling for the exclusion of hosts who have previously played along with the enemy's rethoric and used to spread kremlin propaganda for many years.

This is stated in an address to the President of Ukraine and the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine regarding the participation of hosts who used to distribute pro-russian propaganda in the "United News," FREEDOM, and other telethons that call themselves "national."

This is first of all about Vasyl Holovanov, Tigran Martirosyan, Natasha Vlashchenko, Tetyana Honcharova, Nazar Dovhyy, Volodymyr Poluyev, Anna Stepanets, Anastasia Dauhule.

According to the address, these hosts have promoted kremlin narratives about Ukraine being ruled externally from the US, "discrimination" against the russian language, the "civil war" in Donbas, the legitimacy of russia's occupation of Crimea, and more.

"As none of them have publicly acknowledged the fact that they have been playing along with the enemy for many years, the continued participation of these hosts on air may be used as an indult by them," the address says.

The authors of the address call on the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, and the owners of TV channels participating in national telethons to exclude these hosts from the air.

"Now we have the chance to clear out the Ukrainian media space and to set up an institute of reputation to protect Ukraine from repeating the story in the future," the statement said.

The address is open for signing, send your full name and the media or organization you are affiliated with to [email protected]

Here is the full text of the address:

The address of Ukrainian journalists and public organizations to the President of Ukraine and the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine regarding the participation of hosts who used to spread pro-russian propaganda in the "United News," FREEDOM, and other media marathons that call themselves "national."

With the beginning of the full-scale offensive of the Russian Federation, state, public and private TV channels of Ukraine were able to unite to confront the enemy on the information front. The joint news was a new and unique experience, when during the war, the media has not been subjected to severe censorship, but continued to spread information that is important to the people, from the course of the hostilities to human tragedies and victories.

However, the national telethons, including the foreign-language channel FreeDom and other media marathons that call themselves "national," are attended by TV hosts who, until recently, had been working for pro-russian TV channels. The information policy of these channels was based on the promotion of kremlin narratives about US external governance in Ukraine, the "discrimination" of the russian language, the "civil war" in the Donbas, the legitimacy of russian occupation of Crimea, and more. Various methods have been used for this, from fake US Congress hearings to marathons about "soroslings", talks of "US biolabs" and even attempts at teleconferences with russia. These hosts are, first of all, Vasyl Holovanov, Tigran Martirosyan, Natasha Vlashchenko, Tetyana Honcharova and Nazar Dovhy, Volodymyr Poluyev, Anna Stepanets, Anastasia Dauhule. We are concerned about the participation of these people in the telethons designed to be a unified information weapon against russian fakes and propaganda.

Ukraine has been resisting russian aggression for more than two months. At the same time, the authorities are working out mechanisms for the future restoration of Ukrainian cities and infrastructure. In order not to repeat the mistakes of the post-Maidan period, when some politicians and activists soon felt their own impunity and began to spread pro-russian narratives and outright fakes on TV channels, manipulating the public opinion and the emotions of Ukrainian citizens, we call on the National Council, MCIP, and the national telethons to exclude these hosts from the air, ensure the audit of these people, and, before that, give a public assessment of their participation in the "United News," FREEDOM, and other media marathons that call themselves "national." We propose to contact the monitoring organizations, which are ready to provide the National Council and the MCIP with analytical information on the activities of these TV hosts between 2014 and 2022.

As none of them have publicly acknowledged the fact that they have been playing along with the enemy for many years, the continued participation of these hosts on air may be used as an indult by them.

We count on a prompt response from the Ukrainian authorities, first and foremost the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko.

Now we have the chance to clear out the Ukrainian media space and to set up an institute of reputation to protect Ukraine from repeating the story in the future.

3. Ukrainian media community calls to revoke the Pulitzer prize of the journalist who denied the Holodomor

16.05.2022 The Association of Ukrainian Media, Journalists and Public Organizations "Media Movement" issued an address to the Pulitzer Prize Committee to revoke the award of Walter Duranty, who headed the Moscow bureau of The New York Times in 1922–1936. In his writings, Duranty denied the Holodomor and publicly supported Stalinist propaganda.

Here is the full text of the address:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, the Ukrainian journalists who signed this petition, are grateful to the Committee for noting our work in covering the Russian-Ukrainian war and countering Russian propaganda. This award is a great honor for those of us who have clearly seen the difference between "freedom of speech" and "Russian propaganda" all these years since 2014, when Russia attacked Ukraine.

At the same time, this award was the impetus to turn to you in regards to Walter Duranty. The journalist, a longtime head of the NYT office in Moscow, won Pulitzer in 1932 for a series of manipulative reports from the Soviet Union. In these reports, he justified the existence of concentration camps, explained the need to destroy the enemies of Soviet power, and justified the need for Stalinist totalitarianism. In his articles, Walter Duranty later supported Soviet propaganda and denied the Holodomor in Ukraine, which starved more than 6 million of our citizens to death.

The reasons why Mr. Duranty covered Stalin's horrific totalitarian regime and the entire USSR in this way may warrant a discussion. But there is no doubt that his apologetic reports, which were even rewarded by the Pulitzer Prize, had a profound effect on the way the United States and the rest of the world perceived the Soviet dictatorship. And it was these reports that helped establish Stalin as a 'wise' politician, and not as a bloodthirsty tyrant and Hitler's accomplice in World War II, in the eyes of the international community.

In 2003, the Committee considered a similar request in detail and decided to uphold its decision. At the same time, we draw your attention to the fact that the current war between Russia and Ukraine is a consequence of the uncritical attitude of the Western world to the Russian tradition of totalitarianism. And Mr. Duranty's work has been very helpful in putting a mask of humanity and civilization on this regime, a mask that was often seen as its true face. We do not doubt the stylistic perfection of his texts. But, in our opinion, even the most impeccable reports do not deserve an award if they are based on lies, manipulation and justification of mass murder.

The esteemed Committee commended Ukrainian journalists "for courage, endurance and bravery in reporting the truth." We now call on you to show courage by acknowledging Mr. Duranty's mistake and revoking his award.

Sincerely,

Members of the Association of Ukrainian Media, Journalists and Public Organizations "Media Movement."

4. Ukrainian media workers call to expel the Russian Union of Journalists from the International Federation of Journalists

19.05.2022 The Association of Ukrainian Media, Journalists and Public Organizations "Media Movement" appealed to the International Federation of Journalists to expel the Russian Union of Journalists from its ranks, Detector Media reports.

Here is the full text of the address:

"We appeal to the International Federation of Journalists with regards to the unjustified nature of the membership of such an organization as "Russian Union of Journalists" in its ranks. This issue has already been raised at the IFJ in early March by a number of representatives from northern European countries. After the Russian aggression against Georgia in 2008, and against Ukraine in 2014, it became clear, and from 2022, abundantly clear that Russia is not just a totalitarian state, but also systematically violates international law and the sovereignty of neighboring countries. At the same time, such a policy of the Russian Federation was not met with adequate resistance from representatives of the country's civil society, including journalists.

Since 2000, Russia has de-facto been ruled only by Putin; he is the personification of modern Russian government, which has remained unchanged for decades, and whose opponents are being sent to the next world in the most brutal way. The "Russian Union of Journalists" is financed from the state budget of the Russian Federation annually with a sum of almost 100 million rubles (see, for example, Annex 24), i.e., this structure is dependent on the Russian dictatorial regime. While, according to the IFJ Constitution of 2019–2022 (subparagraph “g,” paragraph 3), one of its goals is to maintain the societal function of journalism as a pillar of democracy and freedom, in the case of the "Union of Journalists," this alleged journalistic union is being funded by a totalitarian regime.

At a time when Russia ranks around 150th in the freedom of speech rating, we do not see an adequate response to this state of affairs from the Russian Union of Journalists, including a proper response to censorship and harassment of the remnants of genuine journalism by the Russian authorities.

After all, such a large-scale and long-lasting aggression cannot take place without some support from Russian society. One may question the extent to which opinion polls reflect the level of Russian society's support for aggression against Ukraine, but both on social media and in the Russian media, we are seeing an influx of chauvinism permeating the Russian society. In the Russian society, it is considered normal to view Ukraine as a non-state, and Ukrainian culture and identity as second-rate or non-existent / artificially created (and this is typical not only for the government, but also for opposition figures). The Third Reich situation is clearly being repeated, with totalitarian power at the top and a society thirsting for a geopolitical revanche at the bottom.

Journalism should present different points of view, but it should not rebroadcast government propaganda and hate speech (as reflected in subparagraph "n" of paragraph 3 of the IFJ Constitution). We believe that the Russian Union of Journalists has failed this task, as it has not responded properly to the rise of Russian chauvinism and the government's indulgence in such processes.

In view of the above, we believe that the "Russian Union of Journalists" should be expelled from the International Federation of Journalists on the basis of subparagraph "b" of paragraph 15 of the IFJ Constitution. We call on the domestic authorized representatives of the IFJ (Serhiy Tomilenko of NUJU and Serhiy Shturkhetsky of IMUU) to include an according item in the agenda of the IFJ Congress, which will take place from 31.05 to 03.06 in Oman!"

Media Movement is a community that brings together journalists from leading Ukrainian media, investigative journalists, and experts from media NGOs.

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