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Press Freedom Barometer for October, 2013

07.11.2013, 19:29

ІМI registered the largest number of offences in the category «impeding to lawful professional activities of journalists» –  15 cases (in September – 11 cases, in August– 9, in July – 9) and «cyber crimes against journalists and media outlets» – 14 (in September – 4, in August - none). This data is provided by the Institute of Mass Information’s monthly monitoring «Press Freedom Barometer».

Also, in October there were 5 registered cases of threats and intimidation (compared to 4 in September) and 5 cases of beating and attacks against journalists (compared to 4 in September).

In addition, in October there was increase of censorship cases - 3 (in September there was 1). The political pressure somewhat decreased – 3 (5 in September, 4 in August, 1 in July). Also, IMI registered 1 case of journalist arrest.

Thus, since the beginning of the year IMI registered 74 cases of attacks and threats against journalists, 115 cases of impeding their lawful professional activities, 40 cases of censorship, and 39 cases of political and economic pressure.

In October, the most high-profile violations of the freedom of speech and the right for privacy were cyber crimes against journalists and civil activists. According to IMI data, from early September, mass phishing attacks against the e-mail boxes of well-known journalists and civil activists started, along with hacking of their online accounts, and in October this campaign aimed at discrediting them reached its peak.

In early September, IMI received first alerts about the phishing letters received by journalists. In particular, a narrow circle of journalists and activists received letters about a «lost and found thumb drive», which was allegedly left by journalists after a press conference (that is, it targeted a very specific group of people), they offered download links for «photos» from the lost drive, which in fact was a link to spyware. The link was to the site http://accounts.googie.com.cgl-bln.servlcelogin.authunit.ru/, created on 21.08.2013, registered to a private individual and protected by anonymity settings.

In the end of September, the journalists received a «notifications on opening of the criminal case» from the address of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. The file contained a spy virus that uploaded files from the computer, made screen shots, and cracked passwords. According to EFF experts, this phishing attack was from the same source.

In October, there was an unprecedented case when the executive director of IMI Oksana Romaniuk received a phishing letter supposedly from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, using which her computer was accessed illegally, and her personal correspondence was published.

In the same month, journalists and civil activists received letters from «Anastasiya Baburova» (this is a perished journalist of Novaya Gazeta from Russia), again with the elements of social engineering, as though the journalist feared that «mysterious hackers» would get her files with the investigation materials, so she shared them with the journalists and was offering to download them.

 

In October, Oleh Babayev, the mayor of Kremenchuk, continued pressuring the city mass media. For instance, on October 11 at the organizational meeting in the city executive committee Babayev was rude towards the journalists of the largest local mass media – TV company Vizyt and newspapers Programa plus and Telegraph, saying that they "produce shit" and comparing them to cancer. Babayev was unhappy with how the journalists of these mass media were covering the issues the war veterans were facing and the measures the city authorities took to support them. He also promised to “deal” with this “cancer” “in a different way”.

  The journalists of the mentioned media addressed the colleagues and the public and asked not to leave without attention this pressure against the journalists for their criticism.

 

In October, they continued to intimidate the editor-in-chief of the Internet edition Novosti Donbassa Oleksiy Matsuka. He received an email signed «arbiter of fates», full of faintly veiled threats.

 

Among cases of beatings, this month it was police officers, Berkut fighters, and young thugs, who attacked journalists and manhandled them.

In Odesa, during the confrontation under the Odesa oblast police administration building between supporters of the former MP Igor Markov and police officers, Berkut fighters manhandled journalists. The ones attacked were the Odesa TV company ATV cameraman Dmytro Bondarenko and a journalist from the same TV company.

In Kyiv, during the Opposition's action near the Kyiv City Council building, a cameraman of the 1+1 camera crew, when working in the crowd of protesters, received a hard hit with an elbow in the stomach from a young athletic man. Also, at Yevropeiska square in Kyiv, a major of police pushed the Novy Region journalist from the balustrade, from where he was filming the concert organized by the Party of Regions.

The predominant majority of cases of impeding in September was about journalists not being allowed to these or those events and officials prohibiting them from taking photos or recording video. An interesting example of this took place in Zaporizhzhya: the city mayor Oleksander Sin refused to speak with the reviewer of «Podrobytsi» (“Details”) of the Inter TV channel Roman Bochkala; when the media outlet's representative appeared in his office he called police at once.

In Ternopil journalists were ousted from the on-site meeting of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for the issues of transport and communications chaired by the Committee’s chairman Borys Kolesknikov in the premises of Ternopil National University of Economics. “Representatives of local and national media outlets had to leave the audience hall on insistence of the head of the press office of the oblast state administration Volodymyr Lekh, what we consider to be a gross interference with journalist activities. Even more so, as the work of the Transport committee was open, what was confirmed in his briefing the Committee head, MP Borys Kolesnikov”, - reads their statement.

Just as before, unknown malefactors spare no effort in disrupting the screenings of the documentary almanac "Open Access." In Truskavets, the screening was blocked by the blackout and the notification about the alleged bomb in the building. In Sumy, the screening was also canceled and its organizers were accused of provocations and of attacking the office of the Sumy branch of the Party of Regions. 

Physical aggression

 

Arrests, detentions – 1

1. In Uzhgorod, during the rally against construction the Zakarpattia online editor-in-chief was detained together with activists

05 October 2013 In Uzhgorod, at Narodna Square near the building of Zakarpatska oblast administration, police officers, using brute force, detained local activists who tried to stop illegal construction works. Along with them was detained Oleg Dyba, the editor-in-chief of the media outlet “Zakarpattia Online”, who was performing his professional duties. The All-Ukrainan Union “Svoboda” press service informed about this.

According to this message, before the detentions the activists and the city residents for the third time conducted their rally at Narodna Square, protesting against its reconstruction, “which was started to “launder” UAH 3 million from the local budget”.

“The local authorities' decree banned the five activists to enter the "construction site", although it cannot be a proper construction site, as it lacks the fence required by the construction standards. Those who were banned from entering the "construction site", included the lawyer, the activist of "Svoboda" Vitaliy Gregor, the editor-in-chief of the Zakarpattia online online media outlet Oleg Dyba, and other activists”, they said in “Svoboda”. All the detained activists were sent to the city rayon police station.

 

Threats, intimidation — 5

 

1. Kremenchuk Mayor was rude to local journalists, said they produce "shit"

11 October 2013. During the operational meeting in the city execution committee, the mayor of Kremenchuk (Poltavska oblast), Oleh Babayev was being rude to the journalists of the largest city media outlets – the Vizyt TV company and the newspapers Prohrama plus and Telegraph. Babayev said that they produce "shit", “Reporter” informs.

Babay is unhappy with how the journalists of these media outlets were covering the problems of war veterans and the measures taken by the city authorities to support the veterans. He blamed the journalists in disrespect to the memory of war veterans and those soldiers who never came home.

“You produce shit in your media. And you will sink in that shit", this was the mayor’s personal warning to the journalists from Programa plus.

The Kremenchuk city organization of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine considers the mayor’s behavior a form of psychological pressure against the local journalists and harassment for criticism. The Media Trade Union asked the professional journalist organizations of Ukraine for support, and also studies the opportunity of filing an official complaint to the law enforcement agencies concerning systematic Impeding of professional activities of journalists on behalf of the mayor, Oleh Babayev.

 

2. Unknown individuals warned Matsuka that it is his turn now to "leave the world of flesh for the kingdom of light"

16 October 2013. The editor-in-chief of the Novosti Donbassa online media outlet received a letter with threats from unknown individuals. This is what Matsuka told IMI.

“Dear friend! It is now your turn to leave the world of flesh for the kingdom of light and well-being. Recall all your deeds that you have done, those to whom you did good and those whom you abused in this life”, the letter to Matsuka says, signed “arbiter of destinies”.

The letter was received on October 16 at 19.45.

“Today in the evening, when I checked my e-mail, I saw a letter with direct threats to me. I addressed the police, and now investigation is on the way. I think these are the same people who tried recently to break into my office and ruin it, and also the same people who were leaving for me "presents" in the form of graffiti in my house and the box on my car”, said Matsuka.

“Also I think that these are the same people who were stalking me and my colleagues during the last two months”, the journalist mentioned.

 

3. An official threatens a journalist from Chernivtsi for her article about him keeping a Red Book lynx as a pet

 21 October 2013. A journalist from Chernivtsi Halyna Yeremitsa filed a complaint with the police about pressure and threats of physical harm from the local governmental official Serhiy Shekhter because of her article in the newspaper named “Lynx lives in…Velykyi Kuchurіv”. This is what she shared with HolosUA.

According to her, after the publication of her material in the Chernivtsi local newspaper Versiyi about the lynx that lives in the yard of a rich man near Chernivtsi, she started to receive threats.

«In the village of Velykyi Kuchurіv in Storozhynetskyi rayon, a man keeps a lynx. He keeps the predator caged, he said it was a present for him. He refused to talk about his occupation or work», the journalist told.

 Also, Yeremitsa informed, according to his neighbors, the lynx’ owner is very rich, he has a servant and he is a high-ranked official in another oblast. And after the story appeared in the press, he started to threaten the journalist over the telephone.

"On October 11, the lynx owner Serhiy Shekhter telephoned me and started to express his anger concerning the material that I published, he threatened to cause me physical harm», Yeremitsa said.

The journalist filed a complaint with the police with a demand to start a criminal case for obstructing her professional activities. Meanwhile, the local environmental prosecutor’s office resolved to confiscate the lynx and to release it into the wild.

 

4. The newspaper from Donetsk region "Pro Gorodclaims pressure and harassment against its employees

28 October 2013. The newspaper “Pro Gorod” (city of Torez, Donetska oblast) claims that its employees are being pressured and harassed, and also reports about the attack against the chief editor of the newspaper, Igor Abizov. The editorial office employees think these attacks are related to their professional activities. The newspaper published a declaration about this on its website.

The editorial office staff believes the harassment is due to series of publications about an enterprise providing utility services, private enterprise “Donbass industrial development”. These articles describe how the enterprise won tenders using corrupt city council officials, how they received condominiums as clients after the one-option tender, about bad quality of services, etc.

The harassment was in the form of buying out all copies of newspapers, telephone calls with demands to take materials off the web-site, cutting off the electricity cables leading to the office, calls with noise, surveillance over the office and of the editor-in-chief’s car. Also, the editorial office staff noticed that on October 4 on the web-sites stopotkat.net, uaport.net, censor.net.ua, kraina.nameh.ua slanderous articles were published about the newspaper editor-in-chief Igor Abizov, named «Igor Abizov, editor of the newspaper «Pro Gorod», became the main pervert of the city of Torez».

In addition, the people who kept the office under surveillance, on October 25 at 22:30 attacked Abizov and tried to bully him into saying he was a pedophile while filming this on a camera.

The editor-in-chief filed complaints with the local police, yet the police seem to ignore them or investigate some episodes of the harassment as a petty crime like hooliganism.

Taking into account the fact that the criminals’ behavior becomes more and more threatening, the editorial office staff fears for their safety, so they addressed the oblast and central police authorities with their complaints.

 

5. In Kyiv, ICTV journalists were threatened with a gun during filming a news story about gambling machines

October 27, 2013. In Kyiv, during filming of the news story about the attack against a illegal gambling machines facility, one of the gamblers inside drew a gun. The filming crew of the ICTV channel's “Golovna Programa” was in danger, the channel site informs.

The accident happened near the subway station «Vasylkivska». The «Golovna programa»'s filming crew was accompanied by the activists who wanted to punish the owners of the illegal gambling facility. According to the documents, it was supposed to be a grocery store, but in fact that building was used for other purposes.

“When the security guard of the gambling parlor saw the guys who were coming at him with hammers, he locked inside. Yet they were not stopped by that, their hammers were big: they broke doors and windows, got inside, and started to break the gambling machines. Ten minutes of action, and after that the machines were brought out, to show the people what kind of facility was there”, the «Golovna programa» journalist Yuriy Mamon shared.

At this time one of the gamblers got emotional and drew a gun in despair for the lost money.

“He looked like he was drunk or under influence. Probably he slid some money into the slot, and the guys broke in when he expected to win. He drew the gun and started yelling, threatening to kill everyone. Yet he was successfully disarmed. After this, the police came, confiscated the gun, and took the “gunslinger” to the police station”, the journalist told.

 

Beatings, assaults - 5

 

1Kirkorov’s security guard hit LB.ua photographer on the head with a bottle

 11 October 2013. In Kyiv, Philip Kirkorov’s (well-known Russian pop singer) security guard used force against the photographer Oleksander Ratushniak, who was filming for the Like.LB.ua media outlet near the restaurant “Under Wonder”, LB.ua informs.

According to the media outlet, when Ratushniak was filming he was approached by one of the security guards who started to push him roughly and threaten with physical violence demanding to switch off the camera. Then this guard threw a bottle of water at Ratushniak and hit his head. The throw was so strong the bottle ricocheted into a girl who was smoking in front of the restaurant and from her into the restaurant window breaking it.

 Both police and an ambulance were called to the site. The doctors tended to Ratushniak’s wound and took him to a hospital for examination.

Ratushniak's statement was taken and the incident was registered in the register of prejudicial inquiries.

Later, the assailant was identified as a citizen of Russia Lev Zheteniov, Kirkorov's security guard.

 

2. In Odesa, in a brawl near the oblast police administration building, "Berkut" fighter started beating ATV cameraman

22 October 2013. In Odesa, during the confrontation under the Odesa oblast police administration building between supporters of the former MP Igor Markov and police officers, Berkut fighters manhandled journalists. This information came from Ukrainska Pravda with reference of the politician's press service.

According to them, the ones attacked were the Odesa TV company ATV cameraman Dmytro Bondarenko and a journalist from the same TV company.

Moreover, the Inter TV channel correspondent Andriy Anastasov informed that his colleague, cameraman Ihor Mikhanoshyn was injured in the brawl, too. Mikhanoshyn fell down in the crowd and injured his neck.

 

3. At the action near the Kyiv City Council, a thug hit the "1+1" cameraman

 

23 October 2013. During the Opposition's action near the Kyiv City Council building, a cameraman of the 1+1 camera crew was assaulted, TSN informs.

The journalists worked in the crowd of protesters, among whom there were quite a lot of athletically built young men. At the time, the cameraman was filming the speech of the Opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatseniuk, Vitaliy Klichko, and Oleh Tyahnybok, when one of the men standing in front gave him a hard hit in the stomach with his elbow. While the cameraman was recovering, the attacker and his comrades disappeared, as the action was about to end and the protesters were going their ways.

 To give it the context, in the morning due to the Opposition's planned protest action the building of the mayor’s office of Kyiv was under reinforced security before beginning of the city council’s session. The entrance to the mayor’s office was fenced with metal shields, with police officers behind them. The Opposition demanded the immediate unscheduled elections in the capital, and protested against the sessions of the Kyiv city council, which it believes to be illegal. During the previous session in early October, the protests turned into a big fight on Khreshchatyk street. The rally participants tried to get to the walls of the city council, where they were repelled by several Berkut special force operatives. Tear gas was used against the protesters.

 

 4. In Kyiv, the developer's representatives attacked journalists during the fight with the activists

 23 October 2013. In Kyiv, at Kopernik street, during a fight between the representatives of the developer that demolishes private garages at this street, and the activists, journalists were attacked, LB.ua informs.

Although the police stopped the fight and detained the developer’s employee who attacked photographers using a fire extinguisher, still they let him go, although there were many witnesses ready to testify on his actions. Also, the police officer refused to introduce himself. After that, the activists would not let the police officers leave the location.

 

5. In Kyiv, major of police pushed journalist from balustrade

26 October 2013. On October 26, at Yevropeiska square in Kyiv, a major of police pushed the journalist from the balustrade, from where he was filming the concert organized by the Party of Regions, the information agency “Poriad z vamy” informs.

As the agency informs, the policeman without any grounds demanded the journalist get down from the balustrade, impeding his work. At that the police officer did not introduce himself, and did not show his ID on demand. Following this, the police officer went up the balustrade and pushed the journalist down from there.

 The agency “Poriad z vamy” demands the Ministry of Internal Affairs publish the full name of the police officer at fault, and bring him to criminal responsibility for impeding the journalist’s work. The relevant complaint was filed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs by Mr.Ruliov.

 

Impeding lawful professional journalism activities — 15

1. In Lviv region, journalists were forbidden from taking photos of Yanukovych's helicopter

October 01, 2013. During the president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych's visit to the Yavorivskyi firing ground in Lviv region, the journalists were not allowed to photograph the helicopter that delivered the President, ZAXID.NET informs.

As the media outlet writes, after the military exercises, some of the journalists decided to take a picture of the helicopter. Viktor Yanukovych was not inside at that time.

The journalists from Lviv were approached by the presidential security and without any explanations asked to erase the photos they made. There were no actual conflicts, but some of the journalists erased the photos, the media outlet writes.

The President, after watching the military exercises at the firing ground, said that transition to a professional army is the requirement of the time. «We have to do this, and we will do this », he said.

 

2. Police would not let journalists leave Kyiv City Council, says the rally participants storm the building

02 October 2013. The journalists, photographers and camera operators are unable to leave the building of Kyiv City Council. All doors of the building are locked. Police does not let them go and give the reason for this that rally participants are allegedly storming the building. Although no storming is taking place by this time, and the majority of opposition supporters have gone home, informs the Visti newspaper.

For the context, on October 2 the supporters of opposition made several unsuccessful attempts to storm the building of Kyiv City Council. The City Council has 119 issues on the agenda, mainly of social nature. Yet, among them there are also six land allocation issues – including the issue of allocating money for additional construction of entryways to the new bus station at Teremky, for finalizing the reconstruction of the reception area of Oleksandrivska hospital, as well as heat insulation for hospital and their preparation for winter.

 Also, money was supposed to be allocated for renovation of the city ambulance station, construction of housing for socially vulnerable strata of population and for the city targeted program "Development of e-government in Kyiv."

 

3. Correspondents of the movement "Chesno" were not allowed to the session of the Parliamentary committee

 04 October 2013. Correspondents of the movement "Chesno" (“Truthfully”) Hanna Hrabarska and Sergiy Andrushko were not allowed to attend the extramural session of the Verkhovna Rada Committee for the issues of agrarian policy and land relations. They were pushed out by a security guard. The MPs ignored the journalists’ demands to stop violation of their rights. This information comes from the movement’s Facebook web-page. The given reason was that the winery where the session was held was a sensitive facility with restricted access (although representatives of the Parliament TV channel ‘Rada’ were allowed there).

 

 4. In Uzhgorod, basing on the court chairman's oral command, the journalists were not allowed to attend the court session

09 October 2013. The activists and journalists, as well as Oleh Kutsyn, assistant of the MP from "Svoboda" Valeriy Cherniakov, were not allowed to attend the court session of Uzhgorod city rayon court on the case of activists, who were detained on October 5 at Narodna square, Zakarpattya online informs.

According to the media outlet, this was due to an oral command by the chairman of the court, Vyacheslav Domnitskiy.

 

5. In Zaporizhzhia, Party of Regions member did not allow the journalists to their seats, because “they write bad things about the Party of Regions”

 

13 October 2013. In Zaporizhzhia, the first vice head of the city organization of the Party of Regions Anatoliy Striganov would not let the correspondent of the online media outlet 061 Oksana Sanfirova to the seats, from where the journalists were filming, and explained that it was because the media outlet wrote bad things about the Party of Regions, informs the website 061.

As the media outlet writes, on that day the city hosted a large-scale reconstruction of liberation of the city. Journalists of some media outlets were allowed to film the event from the seats. Yet, when the correspondent of 061 asked if she could come up to the seats, activists of the Party of Regions asked for Striganov’s permission. The latter, when he learned which media outlet the correspondent represented, said: “But this is an oppositional media. No, we will not let you through, you write bad things about the Party of Regions!”

In the comments for the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Sanfirova said that the seats were in fact reserved for veterans, yet various other people, including journalists, were allowed there for filming.

 “For filming, the journalists started to ask to let them to those seats, in particular, they let through “Novy Region”. When I asked to let me through, activists of the Party of Regions said that they need to ask their boss. He was standing right there, and asked my journalist ID. Seeing it, he said that 061 is an oppositional media outlet. “No, we will not let you through, you write bad things about us”, - shared Sanfirova.

 

6. In Odesa, military enlistment office employees attacked the journalist who filmed the protest action

14 October 2013. In Odesa, employees of Prymorskyi military enlistment office tried to detain the correspondent of the portal “Odesa.Comments” Andriy Kolisnychenko for filming a protest action at Pyrogovska street and to take away his camera, the media outlet’s site informs.

 

7. In Donetsk, access to the International Summit exhibition was granted only to the journalists from Yanukovich’s pool

 17 October 2013. Journalists that worked at the International Summit in Donetsk on October 17 were not allowed to follow the President Viktor Yanukovich to the exhibition, “Komentari” informs. Only the pool journalists who arrived together with Yanukovich were allowed to pass. The mass media representatives, who worked at the event, also were told that there would be no traditional press conference of the head of the state.

 

 8. In Donetsk, a security guard of the store snatched a camera out from the journalist’s hands 

 21 October 2013. In Donetsk, a security guard of one of shoe stores snatched the camera from the hands of the journalist of the Vgorode online media outlet Vlad Bespalov, Novosti Donbassa informs.

The journalist arrived to the site to sort out the conflict between the security guard and the store’s client who did not want to leave his backpack in the deposit box at the entrance. Yet, the security guard insisted that filming inside the store was forbidden, because it was “private property”, as the stickers at the entrance declared, and later snatched out the camera from the journalist’s hands. The police officers who saw the scene did not intervene.

 

9. In Ternopil, journalists were ousted from the on-site meeting of a Verkhovna  Rada committee 

 21 October 2013. Ternopil journalists are indignant with the fact that on October 18, the journalists were ousted from the on-site meeting of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for the issues of transport and communications chaired by the Committee’s chairman Borys Kolesknikov in the premises of Ternopil National University of Economics. This was the content of the petition filed to the head of Ternopil State Oblast Administration Valentyn Khoptian, Pro Vse informs.

The journalists declared that they denounced the practice of obstructing the journalists' work, and they demand information on whose initiative the open session was closed for the journalists, and they demand a briefing, where the person in fault would apologize to the journalists for the outrageous violation of the legislation in effect (Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (deliberate obstruction of lawful professional activities of journalists).

 

 10. In Zakarpattya, two drunk men were obstructing the work of the Inter filming crew

 21 October 2013. On October 21, the filming crew of the Inter TV channel, journalist Maryna Koval and cameraman Yuriy Kovaliov, were attacked by two unknown men in the village of Siurte of Uzhgorodskyi rayon, Zakarpatska oblast. Maryna Koval informed IMI about this herself. The reason for the attack is unknown, the men were drunk and threatened the journalists.

 

11. In Mariupol, gambling machine facility employee was impeding the work of journalists who were filming

 24 October 2013. In Mariupol, an employee of a gambling machine facility was impeding the filming crew of the local TV channel, TV7 – Anton Komarov and cameraman Yevhen Tur – in their attempt of filming inside the facility. The channel informed about this in the story it broadcast.

The employees of the facility were frightened by the crew's visit, and one of them tried to obstruct the cameraman’s work. The journalists, to avoid further conflict, called the police.

 

12. Security guard did not let the Fokus journalist attend the International Black Sea Economic forum

24 October 2013.

An officer of the Department of State Security did not let the journalist of the Fokus magazine, Dmytro Orlov, attend the opening of the International Black Sea Economic forum, where the prime minister Mykola Azarov was giving a speech, and for which the journalist was accredited. Orlov informed Telekrytyka of this fact.

 According to Orlov, he received accreditation for the International Black Sea Economic forum through the PR agency “PRP” and came to the location in advance, in 15 minutes before the opening. Yet at the entrance a security guard did not let him through. The guard, who eventually showed the ID of the Department of State Security Andriy Haponenko, threatened the journalist and stalled him at the entrance for half an hour, causing him to be 15 minutes late for the opening.

 

13. Zaporizhzhya mayor called police when Inter journalist came to his office

 24 October 2013. The mayor of Zaporizhzhya Oleksander Sin refused to speak with the reviewer of «Podrobytsi» (“Details”) of the Inter TV channel Roman Bochkala; when the media outlet's representative appeared in his office he called police at once, Golos Zaporozhya informs.

The mayor's press service published on the website of Zaporizhzhya city council a statement that the filming crew of the TV channel tried to make their way into the office by force in spite of the press secretary's protests, when the mayor was busy. Thus they had to call the police. Yet the journalists call this story a blatant lie.

“We came to the city mayor’s office, because we were preparing the story about the “overseer” in Zaporizhzhya, Yevhen Anisimov. According to mass media, Oleksander Sin is connected with the case of the “overseer”'s gang, and we wanted to receive his comments on this. At the official's reception desk, they told us he was busy. We calmly waited until his assistant came out of his office, we informed again about our visit, and entered Sin’s working room. I greeted him, introduced myself and informed him what media outlet I represent. Yet, the mayor, paying no attention to me, chose to call the police”, Bochkala told.

“After this, the mayor’s assistant returned to the office and tried to block the camera, impeding my professional activities. And when security guards showed themselves in the room – we left, as it became clear that Oleksander Sin has no intention to comment or answer any questions”, the journalist said.

14. In Poltava, journalists were not allowed to the concert dedicated to Komsomol

 29 October 2013. In Poltava, journalists were not allowed for the concert dedicated to an anniversary of establishment of Komsomol, Kolo informs.

As the media outlet describes it, the security was letting in only those who had a special badge. Without it, even journalists with ID from editorial offices were not allowed in.

 

15. In Odesa, journalists were allowed to Klitchko's press conference only after his personal interference

31 October 2013. In Odesa, unknown individuals tried to disrupt the press conference of the leader of the party «UDAR» Vitaliy Klitchko. Also, the journalists were allowed into the press conference hall only after Klitchko interfered personally, UNIAN informs.

Before the press conference began, near its venue, the building of the press center “Parytet”, people gathered with posters with provocative slogans. Here are some of them: «Sober Odesa without Klitchko», «Odesa does not need a champ like that», «Sports + alcohol = UDAR», «UDAR is a strike the Odessites’ liver», etc. From the very start, there were 2 groups (around 40 individuals) of young people, later approximately the same number of older people joined them. Some had pumpkins with them (traditional Ukrainian sign of rejecting a proposal).

In addition, as one of the press conference organizers told, in half an hour before the press conference electricity in the building was out, and came back on later. «Surprising things were happening. I received a phone call from my colleagues who told me that they received a leaflet with an offer to come to the building of our press center to «exorcise the devils that Klitchko is». At that, the leaflet had contact phones numbers: one of them belonged the organization «Molodizhna Yednist» (“Youth Unity”), but the other one was ours!», the center representative explained.

In addition, some people were not letting the journalists into the building after Klitchko came in. One of the correspondents, when he was trying to make a photograph with his cell phone, the phone was blown out of his hands. The representatives of the media could get in only after personal intervention of the leader of «UDAR».

 

Censorship. Access to information

 

Censorship – 3

 

1. In Simferopol, smoke flares were used to disrupt the screening of the film about Pussy Riot

 02 October 2013. In Simferopol, a group of unknown masked malefactors disrupted the screening of the film «The Showcase Proceeding: Pussy Riot’s History», which was conducted at the Simferopol art center «Karman». This information comes from the Crimean public activists Oleksiy Arunian and Oleksandra Dvoretska on their pages in social networks, Radio Svoboda informs.

According to Arunian, at the beginning of the screening, several unknown people of athletic build broke into the art center and started to beat people who were there. The organizers managed to close the door to the audience hall. The assailants tried to break the door, but failed.

As Arunian informed, the malefactors managed to throw a smoke flare into the hall and beat two volunteers who were not in the hall. Also, two spectators who were going to the screening, suffered.

Ambulance and police were called to the location. The organizers and members of the Cinema Club filed formal complaints to the police based on the fact of the assault, informs the Argumenty NedeliKrym news media outlet.

The documentary «The Showcase Proceeding: Pussy Riot’s History» directed by Mike Lerner and Maksim Pozdorovskin is about the members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who became well-known after the scandalous event in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and are now serving a prison time.

The Head of the public relations department of the Chief Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Olga Kondrashova in the comment for Telekrytyka stated that they received the complaint about the assault, the application was registered in the Unified register, and was identified as a hooliganism case. «The police conducts all necessary measures to identify the people and facts pertaining to the disruption of the screening», the speaker of the Crimean police said.

In June, at the art center «Karman», unidentified individuals tried to disrupt the screening of the almanac «Open access» by throwing a smoke flare into the audience hall.

 

2. In Truskavets, the screening of "Open access" was disrupted with a blackout and "fake-bombing" of the building

 26 October 2013. In Truskavets, in 5 minutes before the screening of the almanac Open access was to begin at the premises of the "People’s House", the electricity went out. Ukrainska pravda received this information from the journalist and activist of the movement "Stop Censorship", Natalia Sokolenko. The screening of the film was planned for 6 p.m.

According to Sokolenko, on the eve of the screening the local department of the power supply network received an order on urgent replacement of certain devices, which caused interruption of power supply.

After the film screening organizers used backup electricity sources and showed the first novel about Mezhyhirya, the chief of the local city police, lieutenant colonel Malysh, appeared. He said that there was a bomb in the audience hall and asked everybody present to leave the building, the journalist told.

 

3. In Sumy, Party of Regions member accused organizers of "Open Accessscreening of provocations

 31 October 2013. In Sumy center of Party of Regions, they accuse the organizers of screening of the almanac “Open Access” in an attack against the party office. Natalia Sokolenko, the co-organizer and activist of the movement "Stop censorship!", informed about this.

 According to her, the screening was planned in the office building at 61 Petropavlivska street, where one of the offices belongs to a local branch of the Party of Regions. Yet, on the day of screening the organizers were informed that there was a blackout there, so they decided to hold the screening outdoors.

At the same time, the Party of Regions published on its website some materials about an attack being prepared against their office in Sumy. In the evening, according to Sokolenko, one of the deputies of the Party of Regions told the journalist about provocations by the screening organizers, his jacket smeared with an egg.

Yet, according to the activist, the screening organizers neither threw any eggs, nor provoked or planned an attack against the office of the “Party of Regions”. Around 250 persons came to see the almanac at Soborna Street near the monument to Taras Shevchenko, she added.

 

Indirect pressure

 

Political pressure — 2

1. In Feodosia, entrepreneurs were rallying against the Kafa newspaper, accusing it of censorship

17 October 2013. In Feodosia, near the office of the local newspaper Kafa a spontaneous rally took place. Its participants accused the newspaper of a bias in reporting about the conflict between entrepreneurs, who peddle on the sea front, of promotion of the party «Democratic Alliance» and its Feodosia leader Sergiy Mokreniuk, and of censorship, the media outlet's website informs.

These protesters with megaphones refused to tell their names, they just informed that they were entrepreneurs, but from their proclamations it became clear that they supported the entrepreneur Oleksiy Tymoshenko, who had been a party to the conflict that had led to a rally under the city council on September 20.

The Kafa's editor-in-chief Oleksiy Baturyn came out to the rally participants to ask them whether these entrepreneurs contacted the newspaper to have their point of view reported, too, before accusing the media outlet of censorship. The protesters said they did not as they saw no use in doing so. They also declined the editor's proposal to review the coverage published in the newspaper's issue No.112 as of September 23-24 to see what they saw the bias in.

 

2. The TVA staff accuses the National Council of forgery and demands that the General Prosecutor's Office investigate the officials' actions

24 October 2013. The staff of the TVA TV channel accuses the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine of forging documents and intentional destruction of the channel, and demands that the General Prosecutor's Office investigate the actions of its officials. The staff informed about this in its statement as of October 24, which was published on the website of Molody Bukovynets.

 

 

 

Legal pressure

 

Lawsuits and complaints against journalists and media outlets — 2

 

1. Kerch.FM Journalist is being sued for her investigation on money extortion in kindergartens

 21 October 2013.

In Kerch, the kindergarten No.6 and its head, Olga Voron, sue against the journalist of the Kerch.FM website Iryna Sedova for harm caused to honor, dignity and business reputation. The case started because of the article named «Kindergarten teacher told about forced money extortion in kindergartens», it was published in April this year, Kerch.FM informs.

After the article was published, the prosecutor’s office discovered that the catering was organized with violation of children’s rights not only in the kindergarten No.6, which is the claimant, but also in other communal kindergartens.

Sedova thinks that the people behind the court case against her are high officials of the city council: «Everyone knows very well that starting from August 1, the authorities of Kerch started a war against us. The attempts of the illegal pressure were stopped thanks to the law enforcers and Central Crimean authorities. Now, the officials and their subordinates want to drown us in lawsuits. I am ready to answer for each word I wrote in that article, as it raises an important social issue that remains unresolved by the Kerch authorities until this day».

According to her, in the editor’s office there are photographs and video recordings proving the fact that the parents and the kindergarten teacher really said those things to the journalist.

As the media outlet writes, according to part 2 of Article 29 of the Law of Ukraine «On Information», the subject of social interest is information that proves the possible violation of human rights, or misinformation of the community. From the materials gathered by the journalists we can see that the administration of kindergartens that demands from parents to donate charity contributions for children’s meals is misinforming the community.

The first court session is held on October 21, at 13:30. The case is considered by Judge Zakharova.  

 

2. Court found the editor-in-chief of Zakarpattia online guilty of disobedience to police and fined him for UAH 138

22 October 2013. Uzhgorod city rayon court found the editor-in-chief of the online media outlet Zakarpattia online Oleg Dyba guilty of persistent disobedience to police officers and fined him for UAH 138, the media outlet informs.

At the previous court hearing on October 16, the judge Igor Ivashkovych stated that the police charge sheet, which was used as a source of evidence in the case, was not admissible for the decision as it did not state the nature of the offense. So, the court returned the charge sheet to Uzhgorod city police department for proper execution.

After that the case was transferred to the judge Oleg Prydachuk, who familiarized himself with the police officers' charge sheets in the course of the hearing. As the media outlet informs, according to the charge sheets (which were identical for several police officers) during the events on October 5 on Narodna Square Oleg Dyba allegedly was using foul language at police officers, threatening them  with dishonorable discharge from the force, trying to hit them, pushing them and pulling at their uniforms, and after he was manhandled he kept resisting, tried to flee and was detained by police and brought to Uzhgorod city police department.

At the hearing, the testimonies of two city communal workers, whose names were not mentioned in the charge sheet, were heard. These testimonies did not mention Dyba.

After that the court gave a hearing to Dyba himself, who explained that the entire time he was on the site he was filmed by local police officers that were recording the situation, and moreover he was filming the event himself.

Dyba claimed he was working there as a journalist, what “was clearly recorded by the mentioned video materials.” He stated he did not interfere with the communal services' work on Narodna Square and came to the site already when the police started to detain activists.

Moreover, Dyba pointed out that there were a lot of journalists from different media outlets working on the site, and the video materials clearly show that he was the only one police officers were trying to mess with by pushing him. Also Dyba claimed that when police officers started to manhandle him he never resisted, used no foul words, threatened no one and generally did nothing of what he was accused of in the charge sheet. 

 

Online pressure

 

Cyber-crimes against journalists and media outlets – 14

 

1. A video from the mailbox of Medianiania journalist was made public online

06 September 2013.

A video from the mailbox of Olesia Savenko, Medianiania journalist, was made public online. The video appeared on a Twitter account, which was specifically started for such purposes and promises a lot of sensational materials.

 

2. Phishing attacks reported to the Institute of Mass Information

11 September 2013. Phishing emails aimed at journalists are being reported их листів. In particular, a narrow circle of journalists and civil activists received an email about a «found thumb drive», which was allegedly left by journalists after a press conference (that is, it targeted a very specific group of people), that offered to follow a link to «photos» from the thumb drive, which contained spyware. The link was to the website http://accounts.googie.com.cgl-bln.servlcelogin.authunit.ru/, which was created on August 21, 2013, registered to a private person and protected by anonymity settings.

 

3. Journalists and civil activists received an email with a mysterious proposal to «follow the White Rabbit»

17 September 2013. Journalists and civil activists received an email with a mysterious proposal to «follow the White Rabbit», if they «serve the law and truth», and to follow the link that contained a spy virus. This message used elements of «social engineering» directed at a certain target audience.

 

4. Journalists received a notification that messages with malware were originating from their email accounts

18 September 2013. Journalists received another notification — this time it was that messages with malware were originating from their email accounts and a proposal to enter their password to prove their identity. http://email-google.ru/ServiceLoginAuth

 

5. Journalists received «notification about opening of the criminal case» from the email of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

20 September 2013. Journalists received a «notification about opening of the criminal case» from the email of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine . The attached file contained a Trojan virus that uploaded files from the computer, made screen shots, and cracked passwords. According to EFF experts, this phishing attack came from the same source as the previous ones .

 

6. Journalists received a notification that spam was coming from their emails

01 October 2013. Journalists received a notification that spam was coming from their emails, and a proposal to «confirm» their personal data and enter their password at a fake website.

 

7. A proposal in English came as though from the email of one of the leaders of a media NGO to follow a link and read some sensitive information on GoogleDocs

08 October 2013. A proposal in English came as though from the email of one of the leaders of a media NGO to follow a link and read some sensitive information on GoogleDocs. This link contained a virus aimed to phish out personal data.

 

8. Hackers attacked М1 TV channel's website

08 October 2013. The official website of the М1 TV channel was attacked by hackers. This news came from the TV channel's press office. According to them, the channel's specialists took urgent actions in response to the hackers' attack and in just one hour the website's operation was completely restored.

The channel's staff believes this incident took place in connection to the project «5 Randoms». It happened near the closing time of another round of the project «5 Randoms», which is about correctly guessing the combination of five numbers, names of performers and names of songs randomly drawn on Friday. The winner gets an iPhone5. So it seems like somebody was trying to mess with the draw. According to Tetiana Mulkidzhanova, head of the M1's digital department, this somebody failed.

 

9. Oksana Romaniuk filed a police report that her computer was hacked and her private correspondence was made public

09 October 2013. The Institute of Mass Information's executive director Oksana Romaniuk filed a police report with a request to initiate a criminal investigation of the threats made to her and violation of her right to privacy.

According to her, her home computer was illegally accessed and her private correspondence was made public.

«Unknown persons threaten to make my entire correspondence public. I believe this to be nothing but pressure on me and on my family. Moreover, I believe this cyber-assassination to be a part of an unprecedented wide-scale campaign against civil activists and independent journalists. I turned to international organizations, embassies and demand an immediate convocation of the Interdepartmental Working Group headed by Darka Chepak, otherwise this pressure will keep mounting up, as these authors of online publications warned us very clearly that they will keep posting materials about civil activists and journalists», said Oksana Romaniuk.

 

10. Journalists and civil activists received a fake message from the deceased Russian journalist Anastasia Baburova's email

10 October 2013. Journalists and civil activists received a message from Anastasia Baburova's email (this was the Novaia Gazeta journalist in Russia who perished), again with elements of social engineering, as if the journalist were afraid of some «mysterious hackers» getting to her investigation files, and that is why she would share them with other journalists and offer to download them.

 

11. Unknown hackers hacked Chornovil's gmail account

18 October 2013. Unknown hackers hacked the email account of the civil activist, journalist Tetiana Chornovil. She shared this on her blog on Ukrainska Pravda.

According to her, in the three months since she created her Gmail account she received 20 messages, seven of them real, and the rest were just attempts to phish out her password using different ruses or to get her to run a Torjan. Chornovil ignored these messages but on October 16 her account was still hacked: she checked her email and saw a message that 4 hours ago the password was changed, that is, it happened at 5 a.m., when she was sound asleep. She also saw that the most recent message she received was marked as “read” and she knew she never opened it.

According to her, it was to this address that she was supposed to receive a photo of the firing watch tower, which had been taken down on the UPA day on Yanukovych's hunting grounds. She believes it was this photo that the hackers were after.

She had to go to the hunting grounds again in an attempt to make another photo, but the site was heavily guarded and she only managed to get a photo of poor quality.

 

12. Another phishing letter with a request to confirm the password and login sent to a narrow circle of journalists and activists

20 October 2013. This same narrow circle of journalists and civil activists received another phishing letter with a request to confirm their password and login.

 

13. Hackers attack web portals owned by Markov

24 October 2013. The online portal of the TV channel ATV and the news portal Taimer, which are directly connected by the arrested former MP Igor Markov, stopped working. The Taimer administrators confirm that they are under a DDoS attack and connect this with the events around the MP's detention, Segodnia informs.

 

14. Three Mykolaiv website under DDoS attack

 27 October 2013. Three Mykolaiv websites owned by the information agency «Ukrainian Media Group» underwent a DDoS attack. This was reported by Novosti-N with a reference to a Facebook update of the editor-in-chief of the Prestupnosti.NET media outlet Anatoliy Chubachenko.

 The attack targeted the websites  Prestupnosti.NET, NikLife and Mykolaivsky Futbol.

As Chubachenko shared with Telekrytyka,  the DDoS attack started about a week or two ago. Due to regular attacks, on October 27 the hosting company these three websites owned by “Ukrainian Media Group” are using got them offline.

Also he informed that earlier, on Saturday, October 26, an email came to the Prestupnosti.NET editorial inbox with a proposal to pay them money if they took down an article about the Minister of Social Policy Natalia Korolevska. Anatoliy Chubachenko added they did not take down the materials about Ms. Korolevska. 

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