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Press Freedom Barometer for September 2013

15.10.2013, 20:59

In September, in Ukraine there was an increase in the number of threats to, and cases of intimidation of journalists, as well as cyber-crimes against mass media. This data is provided by the Institute of Mass information's monthly monitoring «Press Freedom Barometer».

In particular, according to the IMI data, in September there were 4 cases of threats (compared to 1 in August). Likewise, in September there were 4 registered cyber-attacks against mass media (in August there was none). Start of the new political season was also marked by mass phishing attacks against e-mail boxes of well-known journalists and civil activists, and hacking of their electronic accounts.

In September, ІМІ registered the largest number of violations in the category «impeding lawful journalist professional activities» – 11 cases (in August– 9, in July – 9). In addition, in September there was also an increase of economic pressure on mass media and journalists - 3 cases (in August– 1, July – 0, June - 1). Political pressure somewhat grew – 5 cases (in August – 4, in July — 1).

At the same time, there was an insignificant decrease in the number of assaults and battery against journalists – 4 cases (in August– 5, in July - 10). Still, there were 2 registered cases of attacks against mass media offices, while during summer there were no such cases.

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI identified 64 cases of assaults and threats against journalists, 100 cases of interference with lawful professional activities of journalists, 37 cases of censorship, and 36 cases of political and economic pressure.

The most heinous violations of freedom of speech in September was the pressure against the online media outletUkrainska Pravda, and the initiative of MPs of the parties "Batkivshchyna" and the Party of Regions concerning limitation of access to public information.

In the beginning of September, a clone of Ukrainska Pravda appeared online, whose design completely copied the design of the original. In five regions of Ukraine, unknown persons were disseminating a bogus Ukrainska Pravdanewspaper. In addition, job vacancies for the media agency and newspaper named Ukrainska Pravda appeared online. All this shows an all-out attack against the independent media outlet, and someone’s desire to reduce the credibility of UP in the eyes of readers.

In September, the public and journalists subjected to severe criticism the initiative of MPs, who registered in the Parliament a draft with amendments to the Law on access to public information, where it was proposed to consider confidential any data about individuals, and allow to publish this data only with consent of the individuals. The proposed amendments to the Law on access to public information would prohibit officials to communicate with individuals without an information inquiry, as well as take away from applicants the right to personally make digital or photocopies of official state documents. Officials are also allowed to ignore the requests, where the applicant's name, signature and postal address are not provided. As of the end of September, several authors of the «improvement» of access to information have already withdrawn their signatures under the draft law.

In September, the UNIAN management's retaliation of against the journalists, who earlier in the year were complaining about the censorship in the agency continued. In particular, the UNIAN management fired its correspondent in Brussels, Serhiy Voropayev, basing on clause 4 Article 40 of the Labor code of Ukraine (unauthorized absence without a good reason). UNIAN also did not pay its Brussels correspondent the advance, stating as the reason his absence at the working place. All the while, the correspondent continued to do his duties in Brussels, which can be confirmed by news articles signed by him in the agency news feed.

In September, the number of threat to journalists grew. In particular, threats and psychological pressure were applied to the journalists of the Novosti Donbassa online media outlet, Oleksiy Matsuka and Vitaliy Syzov. In particular, the journalists were under surveillance by unknown people because of their investigations. Later, unknown persons wrote a message to Matsuka in red paint on the door to his neighbor’s apartment, and attached to his car a cardboard box with a sex toy inside.

The list of threats also includes the case with the deputy of Luhansk oblast council from the Party of Regions, Arsen Klinchayev, who threatened to «put a curse» on the chief editor of the website 0642.ua Yana Osadcha.

In September, two attacks against the property of journalists were made - in particular, in the city of Nadvirna in Ivano-Frankivska oblast unknown persons shattered the windows in the house of the journalist, who was writing about seizure of lands in the area «Horodyshche» near the town of Nadvirna. Earlier, on September 13, the TV channel's editorial office received a call from an unknown individual with threats, who advised the journalist to dial down his interest in the topic, otherwise he would regret his actions.

In Sevastopol, on the territory of a private household, a car burned down. It was a Сhevrolet Lacetti, owned by the editor-in-chief of the media outlet Novyny Sevastopolia Oleksander Karliuk. The journalist was writing critical materials related to his advocacy activities.

The great majority of cases of impediment in September was related to not providing the journalists access to certain events, and officials forbidding filming or photographing. In particular, the journalists were not allowed to attend the meeting of the initiative group on conducting of the referendum on Ukraine entering the Eurasian Economic Commonwealth, conducted by the Communist Party of Ukraine and «Ukrainskiy Vybor». Also, journalists were not allowed to visit the sessions of the Verkhovna Rada committees without special permits, and in Kherson the officials did not allow the journalists of the Khersonskie Vesti online media outlet to attend the city council session, arguing that an online media outlet is not a real media. The most absurd case of impeding the journalist activities took place in Lviv, when the director of the public utility company «Tsentralne» Oksana Yadchyshyn called police because journalists of the ZIK TV channel asked her to give a comment «outside the reception hours.»

Just as before, unknown persons keep trying to disrupt screenings of the documentary almanac "Open Access" in any way possible. For instance, in Cherkasy during the film screening there was a blackout and the police was looking for explosives. And in Kyiv, a group of 30 unknown persons sabotaged the entire screening by using smoke flares and misinformed the police that the building had a bomb planted in it.

Physical aggression

 

Threats, intimidation - 4

 

1. Journalists of "Donbass news" noticed they are under surveillance

September 16, 2013. The editor-in-chief of the online media outlet “NovostiDonbassa” Oleksiy Matsuka claimed that he and one other journalist are under surveillance by unknown persons. According to him, the surveillance over them started since the end of August – since they started writing the investigation materials, in particular those about the corruption in the governmental bodies. The journalists publish their materials on the media outlet's website and on the Donetskaya Pravda website.

As Matsuka said, unknown persons follow them systematically, openly, using automotive vehicles and communication devices. Matsuka mentioned that they saw several times that “unknown persons were following the journalists, although the journalists did intentionally change their regular routes as they suspected surveillance”. In addition, some of the stalkers were noticed at different times near the buildings where the journalists reside.

The journalists started to attract such attention after they won a grant from the international Renaissance Foundation to conduct a series of regional investigations, and a grant of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The journalists say such «interest» is caused purely by their professional activities.

 

2. Party of Regions member threatens violence against female journalist’s daughter

September 27, 2013. The Deputy of Luhanska Oblast Rada from the Party of Regions Arsen Klinchayev threatened the chief editor of the 0642.ua website Yana Osadcha to use violence against her child and «to place a curse» if she refused to remove from the website the article that he did not like. According to Osadcha, Arsen Klinchyev gave her a day to take down the article from the website. The journalist officially asked the prosecutor’s office to take measures due to the fact of these threats.

 

3. Unknown individuals left a message in red paint on the door of Matsuka’s neighbor’s apartment

September 26, 2013. In Donetsk, unknown individuals left a message for Oleksiy Matsuka, the chief editor ofDonbass News, on the door of his neighbor. They wrote with red paint, ‘Lesha Matsuka, I love you’.

In his comment for the Institute of Mass Information, Matsuka also shared that representatives of the police and the prosecutor’s office came to his place. A criminal investigation was initiated under Article “Hooliganism.”

4. Cardboard box attached to a car of the Donbass News chief editor.

September 27, 2013. A cardboard box was attached to the car of the chief editor of Donbass News. He informed about this on his Facebook page.

“Today the day started with me finding a box attached to my car, and inside there was a dildo. These are the “delicate” methods used by people who bully us”, wrote Matsuka.

 

Assaults, beatings – 4

 

1. In the Carpathian region, unknown persons shattered the windows in the house of the journalist, who wrote about land seizure

September 17, 2013. In the town of Nadvirna, Ivano-Frankivska oblast, in the morning unknown persons shattered the windows in the house of the chief editor of the TV and radio company "Nadvirna", Vsevolod Kyselevsky. As the complainant informed, such actions are caused by the fact that he was actively covering the topic of land seizure in the area of «Horodyshche» near the city of Nadvirna. The confirmation of this is the fact that on September 13 the TV channel's editorial office received an anonymous call with threats, requesting that the journalist worked “not so actively” on developing the topic mentioned above, “otherwise he would regret his actions”.

 

2. In Sevastopol, journalist's car was burned because of his critical materials

September 20, 2013. At night of September 20, in Balaklavsky rayon of Sevastopol on the territory of a private household a car, Сhevrolet Lacetti, owned by the editor-in-chief of the Novyny Sevastopolia media outlet Oleksander Karliuk, burned. According to the Novyny Sevastopolia data, the car owner stated that at half past three in the morning he heard an explosion and the sirens wailing.

"Oleksander Karliuk claims that he is well aware of the identities of those, who ordered this crime, and that this is not the first attempt at setting his car on fire. During a long period of time, because of the advocacy activities of the NGO "Za Spravedlyvist" (For Justice) and more and more critical materials being published on the media outlet's website, a whole series of the supposititious inspections has been organized, criminal cases based on anonymous accusations have been opened and closed, the private house has been illegally cut off electricity for five months already, and Karliuk personally has received threats of physical violence", reported the media outlet.

 

3. In Uzhgorod City Council, the mayor's security and thugs assault journalists. Police protects thugs.

September 28, 2013. In Uzhgorod, on September 28, on the Day of the City in the office of the Uzhgorod City Council the mayor's security guards and athletically-looking thugs assaulted journalists and female students and also threatened to kill. The police, commanded by the vice-head of police of Uzhgorod City Department of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs lieutenant-colonel of police Viacheslav Grygoriev, protected not the journalists or regular civilians, but the «thugs» of a very telling appearance clothed in track suits, informs Zakarpattia Online.

As the media outlet described it, several journalists, civil activists and locals intended to enter the assembly hall of the Uzhgorod City Council, where the celebrations dedicated to the Day of Uzhgorod were starting. Although the event was not invitation-only and was described in the celebration plans as the "Festive City Popular Assembly", police officers at the entrance immediately stopped those, who were deemed, for the non-disclosed reasons, unwanted at the event, informs the outlet.

The police officers, both uniformed and in civvies, first were trying to body block the entrance to the assembly and later, when several high city officials approached the entrance, just pushed them aside using brute force. In the process, the journalism student of Uzhgorod National University Yulia Dub even got several blows in the stomach.

Several journalists, who were covering the celebration event, and public activists participating in the flash mob at the entrance rushed to the girl's cries for help. They tried to find out from the police officers the reason for blocking the entrance to the City Council for an open event and for using force. The questions were left unanswered. Instead, when they tried once again to advance to the City Council lobby, the police got reinforced by young men of a telling appearance wearing track suits, who could not have cared less for civility or manners.

As Journalist Oleg Dyba, who got injured during the incident, shared: “... the police officers were watching as the goons, in particular, Yuriy Bohash, the personal driver and security guard of the City Mayor Victor Pogorielov, who is a known member of Adylov's gang, were manhandling the girls and the journalists, and was not taking any action. They did not respond either to the thugs' actions nor to the cries to police for help. Yuriy Bohash threatened to kill me, but my address to the police and, in particular, to Mr.Hrygoriev, received no response”.

 

4. In Kyiv, unknown perpetrators use smoke flares to disrupt the screening of the "Open Access"

On September 27, in Kyiv unknown perpetrators tried to disrupt the screening of the documentary almanac “Open Access”, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Kinopanorama cinema theatre.

Before the screening started, someone brought to the cinema hall a group of 30 persons who looked like they were homeless. The group was accompanied by two men in Berkut uniform.

These unknown people occupied the two first rows in the hall. Some of them were drunk, some were smoking right there, some were yelling: "Where's the movie?", “There will be no movie.”

These people had simple printed badges that read "Press", «Maidan», or «Correspondent».

The police was called to the site. Two police officers arrived and started to escort the "homeless journalists" out. In the process of this, someone threw the smoke flares in the hall.

The screening was stopped and resumed only after 8 p.m.

Around 9 p.m. the Ukrainska Pravda journalist Sergiy Leshchenko wrote on Facebook about another provocation: the police received a call that a bomb was planted in the building and so the explosion lab experts arrived to the scene. So, the screening was stopped.

 

Assaults on media outlet offices – 2

 

Assaults on media outlet offices – 2

 

1. In Dnipropetrivska oblast, Novomoskovsk, unknown persons seazed the TV and radio company "Samar"

September 5, 2013. Employees of the TV and radio company “Samar” in the town of Novomoskovsk (Dnipropetrovska oblast) stated that the TV and radio company underwent a raider seizure. They made a statement about this, which was published by the editor-in-chief of the TV and radio broadcasting company “Samar” Anna Riabikina. As the statement notes, the incident took place on September 4, between 7 and 8 a.m.

"A group of suspicious people broke into the building of the TV and radio broadcasting company, and, using force, committed a robbery: they stole a package of documents, keys from the rooms, and a large sum of money. Entrances were blocked, and they tried not to allow the employees and the managers to their workplaces," the statement described.

According to Anna Riabikina, during the raid against the channel, a man with guards came in and introduced himself as the new director. He did not specify his name, but he said that he had a new package of documents and the seal registered in the city of Lviv. As recalled by Riabikina, he said: «Do not be afraid, we will conduct an assembly tomorrow, and we will explain everything». Later, he was taken by the police to give testimony.

The TV and radio broadcasting company «Samar» is a private channel, which was founded by the present director general of the channel, Vitaliy Posternachuk, Serhiy Leonov and Victor Zaskalko. According to Riabikina, there was no conflict between the channel owners, although Leonov supposedly wanted to sell his share.

 

2. Three unidentified men tried to break in the office of the Novosti Donbassa online media outlet

On September 24, 2013, three unidentified men tried to break in the office of the Novosti Donbassa online media outlet. The Institute of Mass Information received this report from the Novosti Donbassa editor-in-chief Oleksiy Matsuka. According to him, men in black bombers tried to break open the office door.

Matsuka has no idea who would want to break in the office but connects it to the surveillance over him and his colleague Vitaly Syzov.

“I believe every journalist in Donetsk is in danger. Last week we were followed, and today they already resort to violent actions”, said Matsuka.

“Those unknown men on their way here met the janitress and asked her where our office was and whether there were a lot of people in it”, added Matsuka.

As Matsuka informed later, both police officers and representatives of the city prosecutor's office came to their office. He submitted complaints to both institutions.

 

Impeding lawful professional journalism activities – 11 instances

 

1. In Donetsk, the administration of college called the journalists of Channel 5 and "Inter" spies, and did not allow them to film

September 4, 2013. The administration of Donetsk art college was interfering with the work of camera crews of Channel 5 and TV Channel “Inter”, the Channel 5 correspondent Yulia Bozhko informed.

According to her, they were filming a story near the dormitory, but the director Yuriy Konosh and the lawyer of the college, seeing this, demanded to stop filming and threatened with a lawsuit.

“We were filming the story concerning the publication of Verzilov (deputy of Leninska district council of Donetsk, who keeps a blog in “Donbass News” - Editorial Note.) about lack of equipment in the art college dormitories. We were filming in front of the dormitory, not on its territory, interviewing the ex-superintendent, who was telling about how she noticed inconsistencies between reality and the documents in the items that are supposed to be on the balance sheet and items that are lacking. The college administration came out and not asked, but demanded to stop the filming. There were the director of the art college and the lawyer. The lawyer threatened with lawsuits. They had a harsh conversation with deputy Verzilov, and called the police,” she told.

Journalists were not harmed in this conflict, yet the lawyer of the college called them American spies, although they showed their journalist IDs.

 

2. In Chernivtsi, journalists were not allowed to enter the oblast state administration and oblast council without prior notification

September 5, 2013. Chernivtsi oblast state administration and oblast council issued an order, which banned all visitors who did not secure prior notification, from visiting the administrative building where the oblast state administration and oblast council are located. The order on amendment to the Provision on access control for the administrative building was signed on July 11 by the first vice head of the Chernivtsi Oblast State Administration, Georgiy Halytsia and the head of Chernivtsi oblast council Mykhailo Haynychera.

Employees of the oblast administration and council, MPs, deputies of the oblast council, heads of rayon state administrations, rayon councils and heads of city councils of oblast scale are free from this requirement.

 

3. In Lviv, State Treasury official attacked the cameraman of the local TV channel

September 06, 2013. In Lviv, the head of the record-keeping department of the chief administration of the State Treasury Service of Ukraine in Lvivska oblast Victor Baydiukov assaulted the cameraman of the TV company Lviv-TV Vadym Dmytriv. The TV channel journalists were filming the story about the picketing of the State Treasury by public utility services employees due to non-payment of salaries.

The incident took place in the premises of the State Treasury, where the TV channel filming crew arrived together with the picketers. The man who introduced as the representative of the Lviv oblast treasury attacked the cameraman and tried to break the camera. This official did not present his ID on the journalists' request.

Due to this, the journalists submitted to the police a complaint on impeding journalist activities. They also filed to the Treasury's administration a request for public apology and punishment of the employee for abuse of power.

 

4. Journalists were not allowed to visit the congregation of the Communist Party of Ukraine discussing the referendum

September 8, 2013. The journalists of TVi, TV and radio broadcasting company «Era», Radio Freedom, Channel 5, newspaper «Den», online media outlet Ukrainska Pravda and others, were not allowed to the congregation of the initiative group on conducting of the referendum concerning Ukraine’s entrance to the Eurasian Economic Commonwealth.

The congregation was conducted in Kyiv, at the Spartak stadium, on the initiative of the Communist Party of Ukraine and «Ukrainsky vybir».

«They demanded accreditation the journalists of these editions did not have», wrote Natalia Sokolenko. She reminded that according to Ukrainian laws, no accreditation must not be an obstacle for journalists to visit an open affair.

The leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Petro Symonenko mentioned that the organizers were offering accreditation for the event in advance. «Caring about security of the congregation participants, we provided accreditation until Thursday night. Those journalists, who registered, had no problems with getting there. First thing I want everyone to understand, we wanted order at the event, and we wanted the journalists to cover it adequately. Our events are often visited by people with journalist IDs who are not journalists. Do you know how many political forces wanted to disrupt the event? The journalists told us that the Presidential Administration ordered them to cover our initiative in bad light. As a proof, look at yesterday’s biased media stories where they told that our event was banned by the court. In reality, the court banned a different event. The journalists did not see the difference,» Petro Symonenko said.

He did not want to clarify the journalists of what media outlets told him about «the order» of the Presidential Administration, saying that they were from leading media.

 

5. Journalists were not allowed for the parliamentary committees’ sessions without special permits

September 11, 2013. In Kyiv, journalists were not allowed for the parliamentary committees’ sessions even with journalist accreditation with the Verkhovna Rada, as the movement “Chesno” informs.

To get into the building at Sadova Street 3A, where the committees' sessions take place and where the MPs' offices are located, the governmental security requested that the journalists order special passes/permits.

The movement journalist was the only media representative who attended the round table in the Committee for law enforcement activities. At the meeting, the officials of the Security Service of Ukraine together with the MPs were considering the draft law on combating terrorism.

The press service of the Verkhovna Rada administration explained that, because the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada for law enforcement activities failed to notify about the open event on September 11 in advance, the security was not notified about this, either. «All inconsistencies are due to the fact that the Verkhovna Rada is a guarded site, and the security have their own departmental regulations. If the committees notify about their open events in advance, we notify the security and all accredited journalists can pass through without any problems», the press service representatives said.

 

6. In Mykolaiv, the journalists were not allowed to attend the round table with Vitrenko

September 13, 2013. In Mykoilaiv, the correspondents of Рodrobnosti.mk.uaNovosti-N and Prestupnosti.NET were not allowed for the round table with the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine Nataliya Vitrenko.

The event took place in Mykolaiv Academic Russian Drama Theatre. It was organized by the All-Ukrainian organization "Dar Zhyttia" ('Gift of Life') and the Ukrainian branch of of the Institute of CIS Countries.

Larysa Shesler, the leader of Vitrenko supporters in Mykolaiv, was blocking the journalists’ passage herself. To her opinion, local online media were not worthy to cover Nataliya Vitrenko's visit, as they «are all biased.»

At that, Shesler mentioned that the event is open, and dedicated to fighting against so-called «Ukrainian collaborationists».

 

7. In Mykolaiv, the brother of the vice head of the Organized Crime Department threatened a journalist for filming

September 13, 2013. In Mykolaiv, the brother of the vice head of the Organized Crime Deapartment Denis Baklanov was impeding professional activities of the editor of the online media outlet “NikVesti”, Oleg Dereniuga, and was involved in brawls with road police and with an alarm response group. This story was told by Oleg Dereniuga himself.

"My professional journalist activities were again disrupted by another young thug, who was boasting about his connections – his brother who is the vice head of the oblast Organized Crime Department. When he grabbed my camera from my hands, I called police and filed a complaint based on article 171", Dereniuga said.

As NikVesti inform, on September 13, near the public transport stop in Mykolaiv, several brawls took place between the traffic accident participants, road police and an alarm response unit. The incident erupted around the collision of the cars Honda Accord and Denis Baklanov's Hundai Sonata. In the process of registration of the accident he kept repeating, whose brother he was.

Based on these facts, a criminal investigation was opened under Articles 171 (Impeding lawful professional activities of journalists) and 345 (Threat of murder, violence or property damage against an officer of law enforcement agency).

 

8. In Kharkiv oblast, the judge prohibited the journalist to stay in the courtroom for having an "illegal" recorder

September 16, 2013. In Chervonozavodskyi district court of Kharkivska oblast, judge Liudmyla Nikulina prohibited the correspondent of the Kharkiv advocacy group's media outlet Prava Lyudyny ('Human Rights') Yuriy Chumak to stay at the open court proceeding without filing an application to use a recorder in the court. Yuriy Chumak shared this news on the Kharkiv advocacy group's website.

As Chumak described it, in the court there was a hearing of a civil case of 3 residents of Shevchenkivskyi district against the law enforcement agencies that violated the freedom of travel of those residents, by holding them under travel restriction for over 6 years due to ungrounded criminal charges. It was due to the high-profile nature of this case that the journalist came to cover it.

According to Chumak, all his attempts to explain that the right to use a recorder is in the law and requires no additional permit, were ignored by the judge, and she demanded that he left the session.

 

9. In Lviv, official called police, when journalists came to her to get a comment

September 17, 2013. In Lviv, the director of the communal enterprise «Tsentralne» Oksana Yadchyshyn called police, when journalists of the ZIK TV channel came to her to get a comment. She explained the call to police by the fact that the journalists came to see her outside the visiting hours.

The journalists came to her to talk about demolition of the already erected supporting wall on Pidmurna Street. In the presence of the police officers Yadchyshyn felt more secure and only then started to talk about the problems local residents are facing, but outright refused to allow them to film the interview. The journalists asked the city council's press office to comment the actions of the director of the communal enterprise «Tsentralne», but nobody gave them any explanation.

 

10. Khersonskie Vesti journalist was not allowed to the city council's session.

September 20, 2013. The head of the press office of Kherson city council Olesia Mikheyeva would not allow the editor-in-chief of the Khersonskie Vesti online media outlet Ihor Trubaiev attend the session of Kherson city council. “She said that I am not a journalist and our website is not a media outlet. I showed her my ID from the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine…,” shared Trubaiev. But other media outlets were allowed to attend the city council' session.

 

11. In Kherson, the newspaper's issue was published with a blank for the report, as journalists were denied accreditation at the event

September 25, 2013. The Kherson newspaper Aktsenty had an issue with a blank space on the front page for the report about the holiday concert on the Day of the City.

As the media outlet's editor-in-chief Sergiy Osolodkin explained, the correspondents simply failed to prepare a report about this event as the press office of Kherson city council refused to accredit them at the event and did not give any badge passes.

Osolodkin informed that he personally had a heated conversation with the head of the press office of the city council's executive committee Lesia Mikheyeva, who insisted that they had only 20 passes and that they would first give them to TV crews. She promised that if nay were left they would give these passes to other journalists.

The Aktsenty journalists viewed this «leftover» principle of accreditation for their media outlet as a political decision, and the denial to attend the concert as a violation of their professional rights.

In fact, only select representatives of mass media were able to attend the Day of the City concert. Most journalists learned that there were only 20 invitations only on the day of the event.

 

Censorship. Access to information

 

Censorship – 1

 

1. In Cherkasy, during the screening of the "Open Access" there was a blackout and search for explosives

September 25, 2013. In Cherkasy during the screening of the almanac "Open Access" there was a blackout in the audience hall. The activist of the movement "Stop Censorship" Natalia Sokolenko wrote about this on her Facebook account.

"In Cherkasy, on the 5th minute of the screening of the almanac “Open Access”, during the first part, the one about Mezhygiria there was a blackout!!! But the organizers were ready for this surprise – they switched on the generator – so we keep watching!" shared she.

By the end of the screening, the law-enforcement officers, fire fighters and bomb technicians arrived to the audience hall. According to Oleg Rybachuk, they claimed that the building had a bomb planted in it. The road to the building was blocked from two sides. The evacuation of the audience was not started yet, the screening of the film continued.

 

Access to information – 2

 

1. Lutsk mayor classified general lay-out and officials' salaries and income declarations

September 23, 2013. In Lutsk, the list of data that constitutes privileged information, now includes the city general lay-out as well as officials' salaries and tax declarations. The corresponding order was signed by the city mayor Mykola Romaniuk.

The website of Lutsk city council published the mayor's order on approval of the list of data that constitutes privileged information or, in effect, limited access information.

 

2. MPs suggest the Parliament limit access to public information

September 24, 2013. In the Verkhovna Rada a draft law has been registered that would limit access to public information. The draft was developed by four MPs from the factions of "Batkivshchyna" and of the Party of Regions. The authors propose to consider confidential any data about individuals, and allow to publish this data only with consent of the individuals. The proposed amendments to the Law on access to public information would prohibit officials to communicate with individuals without an information inquiry, as well as take away from applicants the right to personally make digital or photocopies of official state documents.

A response to an information request has to be paid for, if within 90 days information was requested more than once and the response exceeds 10 pages. Correspondingly, officials are allowed not to respond to an information request, if the citizen failed to pay for the response or to provide the proof of such payment. The actual value of the information requested is not specified.

Officials are also allowed to ignore the requests, where the applicant's name, signature and postal address are not provided.

 

Indirect pressure

 

Political pressure –5

 

1. Spoof Ukrainska Pravda appears online

August 28, 2013. A spoof of the popular online media outlet Ukrainska Pravda ('Ukrainian Truth') emerged on the Internet under the name of Ukrainska Kryvda ('Ukrainian Untruth'). Its design completely copies the design ofUkrainska Pravda. It is unknown who created it, as the line "Editor" says that it is "just a regular person."

In the section "About Us", "regular people" explain why they created this project: "Journalists or prostitutes? These days, the distinction between these two most ancient professions is almost gone. Some journalists are working for the opposition, others work for the ruling party. But they all use the phony rhetoric of «standards». Ukraine has no honest and independent media outlets, and readers are forced to consume sheer paid journalism (the so calledjeansa). We are sick and tired of it. That is why a group of activists has created this website. We used the design ofUkrainska Pravda. Why? Because it is Ukrainska Pravda that claims to fight paid journalism, but in fact keeps offering it daily. The only difference is in the price… Today we declare war on paid journalism. Our goal is to inform our readers about it. Our weapon of choice is humor and irony. We have no holy cows."

The media outlet has sections "Main", "About Us", "News", "Articles", "Photos", "Video", "Heroes", "Give Us Jeansa", "Blooper", "Jeansbook", and "Voting". The only way to contact the founders is by email - ukrkryvda@gmail.com.

 

2. In three cities of Ukraine, the spoof newspaper Ukrainska Pravda started circulating

September 3, 2013. In Kherson the spoof newspaper Ukrainska Pravda started circulating. The newspaper bears the name of one of the most popular online media outlets in Ukraine, which was founded by Georgy Gongadze in 2000. The spoof newspaper was spotted in Ivano-Frankivsk and Poltava, as well.

“The newspaper's specifications state a rather large circulation – 1 million copies. Its first page also bears the logo ofUkrainska Pravda, but this is about all that these two media outlets have in common. As such, this newspaper is nothing more than a collection of publications, which pour dirt on both the opposition and the representatives of the ruling party – the head of the Presidential Administration Sergiy Liovochkin and oligarch Dmytro Firtash. The issue has only one positive material – the article by the leader of «Ukrainsky Vybir» Victor Medvedchuk, where he sings high praise to the Customs Union, criticizes actions of the Ukrainian authorities and vindicates the Russian officials' behavior in the trade conflict between the countries”, reported the information agency Regnum. The first issue of the newspaper is dated August 23.

 

3. TV journalists from Horlivka inform of pressure from local authorities

September 9, 2013. The editorial office of the Tsentr TV channel (Donetsk region, city of Horlivka) informed of the local authorities' continuous impeding of journalists' activities.

“It manifests not only in the «information blockade» and pressure on journalists, but also in repeated attempts to sabotage broadcasting of the TV channel,” the statement reads. “We connect such actions with the local authorities' «disagreement» with the TV channel's editorial policy directed at honest reflection of the state of affairs in Horlivka and with investigations of the facts of corruption within the city council.»

During the parliamentary election-2012, the channel suffered numerous attempts to silence it. On the night of September 6th /7th 2013, the TV channel's transmission cable was cut again. It would take at least one week to restore the broadcasting.

 

4. In Chernihiv, a spoof Ukrainska Pravda is being dispended

September 27, 2013. In Chernihiv, local residents received another issue of a newspaper that bears the name and logo of the online media outlet Ukrainska Pravda, which has no relation to the actual media outlet. This was reported by readers of Tekekrytyka.

The issue was dated September 20, 2013. Its first page had a material why journalists would sell out, and the last one had an article about the Femen's «grey cardinal.»

 

5. Spoof Ukrainska Pravda appeared in Cherkasy

September 26, 2013. In Cherkasy, unknown persons dispensed in post boxes of local residents a spoof newspaperUkrainska Pravda. This newspaper is printed in Kyiv, its official number of copies is one million, as Procherk informs.

This newspaper subjects both oppositionists and representatives of the Party of Regions to criticism. Besides, it contained entertaining materials, in particular, about a well-known TV presenter Oksana Marchenko.

The newspaper's specifications state that its editor-in-chief is Olena Prytula, who runs a prominent online websiteUkrainska Pravda.

 

Economic pressure – 3

 

1. In Brovary, due to circulation prohibition in the rayon, the Stary Tsentr newspaper was not published

September 12, 2013. In Brovary, the social and analytical weekly Stary Tsentr was not printed; its publishing was sabotaged by refusal of local the retailers in the rayon villages to sell the newspaper. This was reported by its editor-in-chief Olena Slyziuk.

Slyziuk explains the retailers' refusal to sell the newspaper by the fact that the head of Brovary rayon state administration Petro Ivanenko at the meeting with the rayon' village heads gave an oral instruction to prohibit theStary Tsentr weekly in village stores.

The statement of the Stary Tsentr editorial office, which was published on the newspaper's website, also mentioned this instruction. «We cannot give a verbatim quote of what Ivanenko said, but, according to the meeting participants, the official referred to the printers ink containing «zink and other hazardous substances» and stated «that newspapers may not be sold in the same room with groceries.» Petro Ivanenko implied that anybody who objects to such presentation of the issue would have to deal with inspections from the Sanitary-Epidemiological Station, the Consumers' Rights Service and other troubles», shared the journalists.

Then, the journalists informed that in a week after the meeting, the stores in the villages Litky, Shevchenkovo, Gogolev, Kalyta and other villages of the rayon already refused to sell Stary Tsentr due to different reasons, the main of which was «printers ink containing zink hazardous to humans.»

Slyziuk shared that currently she was trying organize circulation of the newspaper by phone calls, but she also mentioned that she completely understood the frightened retailers, whose businesses might suffer due to selling the newspaper.

 

2. UNIAN management fires its Brussels correspondent due to his absence at work in Kyiv

September 23, 2013. The UNIAN management is trying to fire its correspondent in Brussels Sergiy Voropayev basing on clause 4 Article 40 of the Labor code of Ukraine (unauthorized absence without a good reason). This was reported by the press office of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine.

According to their report, recently UNIAN did not pay their Brussels correspondent the advance, stating as the reason his absence at the working place. At that, the correspondent continued to do his duties in Brussels, which is confirmed by news articles signed by him in the agency newsfeed.

Earlier, on September 2 this year, the agency's director general Vadym Osadchy in a phone conversation with Sergiy Voropayev, who on that day was returning from a vacation to Brussels to continue his duties, informed him about an intention to close down the correspondent station and suggested to come to work in Kyiv as early as on September 5 – the first working day after the vacation. In the course of the ensuing email correspondence the management informed that they decided to transfer their correspondent to another position. Such actions violate Article 32 of the Labor code of Ukraine, according to which an employee has to be informed about the substantial change in the working conditions in two months, the Independent Media Trade Union informs.

On September 5, the UNIAN director general sent to Sergiy Voropayev's home address in Ukraine a telegram with the demand to explain his absence in the working place and a threat to fire him for absence without leave.

Sergiy Voropayev has been working in UNIAN since February 2004, and in the Brussels correspondent station – since January 2007.

 

3. The entire new department of the Lvivska Khvylia radio station was fired

On September 26, the information department of the news program «Aktsenty» on the Lvivska Khvylia radio station was fired. This information was confirmed by the comment for Vholos by the ex-director of the department Iryna Martyniuk, who had been working at Lvivska Khvylia for over 11 years.

«Yesterday, due to being unable to work in the conditions they created for us, and with such a person as Oksana Kolodrubets (head for social and informational programs - ed.) we decided not to go on air, yet we did attend our workplaces. Presently, all workers of the information service of Lvivska Khvylia, the five journalists including me, are formally fired», said Martyniuk.

In particular, the following employees were fired: Iryna Martyniuk, Victoria Prykhid, Iryna Salo, Sviatoslav Drabchuk and Dmytro Kumar.

According to mass media, the TV and radio company Lvivska Kvylia is owned by Myroslav Khomyak, who was this year appointed the director of the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources of Lviv Oblast State Administration.

In her commentary for the Institute of Mass Information, Iryna Martyniuk mentioned that the department’s team worked in an uncomfortable environment, engineered by Oksana Kolodrubets (owner’s representative - Ed.). As Martyniuk said, immediately after joining the staff of the radio station Kolodrubets had conflicts with the rest of the team. She was interfering with the work of journalists, instructed them what to do and how to do it, Martyniuk said.

At that, the journalist mentions that Kolodrybets did not practice any censorship, it was just lack of professionalism.

The last straw was the conflict between Kolodrubets and the journalist Iryna Salo. According to Martyniuk, the administration of the radio station said to let go of Iryna. Yet, the team stepped in on her side, first they refused to go on air, but later the journalists filled the resignation forms, as the conflict was never resolved.

“The last straw was when the administration asked to say good bye to Iryna Salo... We came to work but we were not broadcasting news, it was our self-defense, our journalist solidarity”, Martyniuk added.

 

Legal pressure

 

Searches – 1

1. Employees of the Ministry of Revenue and Duties searched apartment of Era FM journalist

September 18, 2013. Employees of the Ministry of Revenue and Duties of Ukraine conducted a search of the apartment of the Era FM radio presenter Tetiana Demianenko, the Konflikty I Zakony media outlet reports.

As Konflikty I Zakony informed, on that day the journalist's father just died and she was getting ready to go to the funeral. But there were six persons at her apartment's doorstep waving around the injunction by Brovarsky court about a search. As the media outlet points out, as first they would not even explain anything and were behaving aggressively. But after the filming crews from TV stations Channel 5 and Era arrived, the employees of the Ministry of Revenue and Duties had to allow Demianenko familiarize herself with the court injunction.

As it turned out, the judge signed this document referring to some evidentiary foundation that at her apartment she or some other person may keep the documents concerning the conversion center. Also, this injunction listed one investigator, but the one at the location was a different person. This investigator, who was not entitled to conducting the search, behaved arrogantly, was threatening everybody that he would call in an alarm response force and to any comments (in particular, that he was writing down a wrong surname in the search record) was threatening that he would have them all leave the apartment as they were keeping him from his work.

The search produced no documents that would prove the journalist's implication in money laundering.

 

Lawsuits and complaints against journalists and media outlets – 2

 

1. Based on the statement of a security guard of Kerch city council, criminal proceedings against journalists initiated

September 6, 2013. A security guard of Kerch city council B.Hudz submitted a statement to the police with a complaint against the online media outlets journalists, Sergiy Mokrushyn (Center of Journalistic Investigations) and Iryna Sedova (Kerch.FM), that they had been spreading allegedly false information about the security guard impeding professional journalist activities. This was reported by the Center of Journalistic Investigations with reference the Kerch city council's press office.

For the context, the incident took place on August 12, immediately after the rally in support of the Kerch.FM online media outlet. The correspondent of the Stop Corruption! website Mykola Ivashchenko was trying to get a comment from the city mayor Oleg Osadchy in the city council, but was detained on the second floor of the building. When the journalists Sergiy Mokrushyn and Iryna Sedova arrived at the site they were not allowed on the second floor. While there, Sergiy Mokrushyn wrote a complaint on impeding journalist activities, but he still has not received the notification of registration of his complaint in the Unified register of prejudicial inquiries.

 

2. Construction company demands in court that journalist of Segodnia newspaper paid UAH 500,000

September 11, 2013. The construction company LLC «Telbin IVA» filed a lawsuit against the editor of the 'World' section of Segodnia newspaper Iryna Kovalchuk and the civil activist Andriy Nakonechny with the accusation that their activities to save the public garden on Serafymovych Street 6-A in Kyiv harmed the company's image. Iryna Kovalchuk informed about this in her blog on the Tekekrytyka website.

The LLC «Telbin IVA» demands in court compensation of damages in the amount of UAH 500,000. Kovalchuk believes that the lawsuit «for the unheard of in the history of Ukraine amount of money» is nothing but pressure on her both as an activist and a journalist «to prevent her from publishing articles on the topic of the notorious construction on Berezniaky and from participating in the protest action.»

 

New elements of lawsuits – 1

The court transferred the private TV broadcasting company "Vizyt" to communal property

 

Online pressure

Ciber-crimes against journalists and media outlets - 4

1. Because of critical materials, hackers attack VolynPost for two days

September 9, 2013. On September 9 and 10, the online media outlet VolynPost was subjected to a powerful DDoS attack. As the media outlet informed, on September 9 the attack on the VolynPost server lasted from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. During this time, the website's users had troubles accessing it: the pages would not open or would take a long time to load.

Another attack started on September 10 around 11:30 p.m., users again had troubles with the access to separate pages of the the website. But, as the media outlet's editorial office pointed out, the specialists of the ARTEFACT.St studio, which provides technical support for the volynpost.com website, successfully repelled the attack. The studio specialists claim that the attack was a powerful one and had all the attributes of an expensive one; moreover, this attack on VolynPost was guided: the hackers that ran it several times changed its nature by responding to the defense actions, the media outlet states.

The VolynPost project leader Volodymyr Pashchenko pointed out that the reason for such attack could be separate materials, which have been already published on the media outlet's website, as well as those being prepared for publication. He believes some influential persons are too afraid that the published facts would hurt them.

 

2. Hacker blocked Rivne website "VSE" and issued his ultimatum

September 10, 2013. Rivne online media outlet “VSE” was blocked for two days by the hacker's attack, which started on September 10. “On Tuesday night (September 10 - Editorial note), when most Ukrainians were watching the football match between Ukraine and England, another attacks was launched against the website «VSE.» According to all rules of war, the war was declared. On the website, under one of the materials a warning was posted that the attack would start in several hours. And it started,” the media outlet informed.

And on September 11 the editorial office received an email from the alleged organizers of the attack with an ultimatum. In their email, an anonymous hacker made three demands to the editorial office: to hide ІР addresses on comments, to start moderating comments under their materials and to write «truthful articles.» But, the media outlet points out, “the editorial office's decision was unanimous – no negotiations, even if they bring down our website for a long time.” The journalists decided to fortify the website, and started to make news and articles available on the media outlet's pages in the social networks.

 

3. Lviv website “Dyvys.Info” has been attacked by hackers for two weeks

September 14, 2013. The editorial office of the Lviv online media outlet “Dyvys.Info” informed that the media outlet has been experiencing DDos attacks for two weeks in a row. As the editorial office stated, the first attack on the website took place two weeks ago. The attack lasted for more than five hours. “We have our idea concerning who has ordered this attack, we have taken a collective decision not to disclose their names, as the connection to the attack is very difficult to prove technically”, added the editorial office representative.

But on September 14, the situation repeated: for several hours there was no access either to the website itself, or to its administrative page. Although some of the website users were able to access some of the pages, but they had to wait a while for them to load.

The media outlet's editor-in-chief Oles Dovhanyk claimed that he was aware of the identities of those who ordered the attacks but refused to disclose their names.

 

4. For almost a week, the website "Khersonskie Vesti" is down due to DDoS attacks

September 23, 2013. For almost a week the online media outlet “Khersonskie Vesti” was undergoing DDoS attacks, which started on September 18. The website was completely down.

As of September 23, the website was still under attack.

“I believe these attacks to be related to our publications concerning the actions of the executive committee of Kherson City council and Kherson regional council. In particular, we three times submitted complaints to the prosecutor’s office because of the violation of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information” by the City council. They would not let us familiarize ourselves with the documents on how the housing maintenance and utilities board is spending the budget funds”, said the media outlet's editor-in-chief Ihor Trubaiev and added that the media outlet is conducting a series of investigations concerning violations in land, municipal and communal property.

 

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