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116 violations of press freedom recorded in Ukraine for the last six months – IMI survey

04.07.2019, 15:29
In the past six months of 2019, IMI experts have recorded 116 cases of violations of press freedom in Ukraine. The overwhelming majority of these violations (88) were the incidents involving physical aggression. For comparison: over the same period in 2018, there were a few more violations of press freedom (126, of which 92 cases related to physical aggression). These are the results of the monthly monitoring held by the Institute of Mass Information "Barometer of Freedom of Speech." For the first time in the past three years, IMI has recorded one case of murder of the journalist in Ukraine. On June 20, Cherkassy journalist Vadym Komarov died at the hospital, who has never recovered after having been medically induced in coma after the May assault. The police re-qualified the criminal proceedings over the assault agaisnt Komarov from the article "intentional grave bodily harm" to the article "murderous attempt". The investigators work out three main working leads: attack committed due to his professional activity, due to sudden quarrel with an unidentified person and slaughter for mercenary motives. Ukrainian and international organizations have urged law enforcement agencies to provide a quick and independent investigation into this murder. In the first half of the year 2019, the greatest number of violations of press freedom  have been recorded under the following categories:
  • obstruction to lawful journalism : 56(the same figures were recorded during the same period last year);
  • threats15 (more than during the same period last year, when there were 13 threats recorded)
  • the beatingand assaults: 9 (less than the same period last year, when 15 cases of beating were recorded).
In addition, since the beginning of the year, IMI has identified seven cases of restricting access to public information (for the same period last year : nine cases of the kind), six cases of cyber attacks (last year : eight). Also, within this monitoring, we revealed four cases of damage to journalists' property and legal pressure, three cases for each of the next categories: surveillance of journalists, censorship, lawsuits against media and attacks on the editorial offices. During the first half of the year, there was also one case of a search and one case of political pressure (for comparison: during the same period in 2018 there were seven cases of political pressure). According to the monitoring results, the right of journalists to practice their profession was violated by private individuals, law enforcement officers, representatives of local and judicial authorities, deputies, members of election commissions.
  • One of the severe cases of beating was the attack against the cameraman for the local TV channel Vadym Makaryuk, occured on June 7 in Kharkiv. As a result of the beating, the cameraman had a stroke and being in serious condition he was sent to the hospital. The investigators opened criminal proceedings under the part 2 of Art. 345-1 ("Threat or violence against a journalist") and the part 1 of Art. 171 ("Obstruction to lawful professional activity of journalism"). This incident caused a resonance in the journalistic environment and prompted media community to make a joint statement about violating their rights and to call for an effecacious investigation of assaults onto their colleagues.
  • In June, a case of censorship from the management of the ZIK TV channel, recently purchased by Taras Kozak's associate Viktor Medvedchuk, was recorded. Protesting against censorship and the sale of the TV channel to Medvedchuk's ally, the most part of journalists resigned from the channel. Former employees of the ZIK channel, Media movement “Media for the conscious choice”, Ukraine NGOs and media experts called on the leadership of the state and the Security Service of Ukraine to prevent making use of Ukrainian TV channels to promote pro-Kremlin propaganda in the Ukraine media landscape.
In general, violations of press freedom occurred in 23 regions of Ukraine. As usual, IMI’s monitorings prove, the number of such violations is the higher in Kyiv and its region (37 cases). The second place as to the number of violations was taken by the Dnipropetrovsk region (11 cases), the third place was shared by Volyn and Odesa: nine cases for each. Five cases were recorded in each of the regions: Mykolaiv, Rivne and Chernivtsi. In other regions, there are four, three, two, and one case. For more information on the state of freedom of speech, please, read "Barometer of Press Freedom " on the IMI website.The Institute of Mass Information conducts monthly national monitoring of press freedom as to the following categories: physical aggression, censorship and access to information, economic and political pressure, legal pressure and cybercrime against the media and journalists. Only the cases related to press freedom and professional journalism are recorded in the monthly report. More about the methodology can be found here .  
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