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13 media crimes committed by Russia within last four days of February - IMI barometer

21.03.2022, 14:10

IMI adds a new section to the Press Freedom Barometer: Crimes of Russia. In addition, we publish in chronological order the crimes committed by the Russian Federation against the media since the beginning of the large-scale invasion of Ukraine. The responsibility for them lies with the Russian Federation. Subsequently, IMI will make public a complete picture of Russian crimes.

Only within the last four days of February, IMI recorded 13 crimes committed by Russia against the media and journalists in Ukraine. These crimes include shelling and injuring journalists, shelling and seizure of TV towers, hacking attacks on Ukrainian media sites, shelling media offices, and blocking access to Ukrainian media sites in Russia and the occupied Crimea.

On February 28, near the village of Stoyanka, Bucha district, Kyiv region, Russian troops fired on a car with five employees of the British TV channel Sky News. Sky News correspondent Stuart Ramsay was injured in the attack, and Richie Mokler, a cameraman, was rescued by a bulletproof vest.

Two Danish journalists from Ekstra-Bladet - journalist Stefan Weihert and photographer Emil Filtenborg ( got injured on February 26 in the Sumy region near the town of Okhtyrka, when their car came under fire).

In Bucha (Kyiv region), Russian troops blitzed the Poglyad TV  channel on February 27. Blackout is reported at the town of Makariv, so the Avis TV channel is not working.

Broadcasting has been stopped in Melitopol (Zaporizhzhya region), since Russian troops took TV tower. The TV channel MTV Plus was forced off.

Beyond this, in the last four days of February, on February 24, the website of Channel 5 was targeted with hacker attack. The news appeared on the site with a picture of Putin and allegedly with demands from the "head of the administration" to surrender one’s arms addressed to all armed units in Ukraine.. The DDoS attack was also reported by BabelPoltavska Khvylya and Lutsk's Konkurent website, . The website of RBC-Ukraine has temporarily stopped working due to shelling of Kyiv by Russian troops. Viter TV channel in Kropyvnytsky, part of the Central Ukrainian News Bureau (CBN), has been hacked. This was reported by the regional representative of IMI with reference to representatives of CBN.

The phishing e-mail was received by the editorial office of Semenivski Visti (Poltava region) - a letter allegedly from the public sector with reports on abroad community.

Roskomnadzor threatened to restrict access to the Krym.Realii website, accusing the Radio Liberty project of "spreading an inaccurate information" about Russia's new invasion of Ukraine. Later, Roskomnadzor blocked the Russian-language website Krym.Realii in the Russian- occupied Crimea . Roskomnadzor also restricted access to the website of the Ukrainian online publication Glavred on February 24 on the Internet in Russia.

Freedom of speech in Ukraine until February 24

In the period prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in February, IMI experts recorded 19 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Nine of them were facts of physical aggression against journalists. 

The largest number we recorded were the cyber attacks on Ukrainian websites in February (six cases) and obstruction of journalists (five cases). Thus, the sites of Ukrainian Radio, ArmyInform, Censor.Net, Channel 24 were hacked. Hackers blocked the server of the TV channel Viter and demanded more than UAH 50 million. IMI experts do not exclude that these hacking attacks were carried out by Russia.

In addition, Ana More, the deputy editor-in-chief of the Respect website and the author of the #ShoPoSexism video blog, was harassed on social media after her blog criticizing the Diesel Show program was published on the Catharsis telegram channel. .

The obstruction concerned the denial from the President's Office to accredit the journalists to the events with the participation of the President Volodymyr Zelensky, Bukvy and Pryamiy TV reported . In Odesa, journalists have once again faced restrictions on access to city council meetings, according to the local Channel 7 and the Center for Public Investigations .

In addition, in February IMI recorded three cases of restrictions on access to public information . In these cases, journalists were denied the requested information or did not answer the substance of the question. In particular, one of the inquiries was sent to Radio Svoboda to the State Bureau of Investigation to verify the public statement of Ukrainian Pravda journalist Mykhailo Tkach that the police had not prevented an attack on his camera crew in Dnipro. The SBI did not inform journalists about the presence or absence of such an investigation in the bureau.

IMI experts also recorded two cases of beatings, attacks and threats and one case of a lawsuit against the media. 

The most notorious case occurred in Dnipro, on February 13, some unknown people aggressed the TV crew of Mykhailo Tkach, the head of the Ukrainian Pravda journalistic investigation department. The incident took place near the VIP terminal of the city airport.

According to UP, at about 3 pm, unknown individuals approached Yaroslav Bondarenko, a videographer of the UP, who was performing an editorial task, and demanded to delete the video. When Yaroslav refused, one of the men started threatening him with a knife and forced the UP operator to say the password from his phone and deleted all the videos that had been taken.

Another man began to wring the hands of the UP driver. The men didn’t name themselves. According to the UP, these were security guards. Police at the scene remained passive, the newspaper said. was sued with  two libel lawsuits by the former mayor of Kyiv Leonid Chernovetsky who required non-pecuniary damage in the amount of UAH 2 million . He challenges the authors' criticism against him. The publication stated that it was ready to defend the right to free expression of the authors' opinions in its own materials.

Violations were recorded in seven regions. Kyiv, where 12 cases have been reported, has become a leader in violations of freedom of speech; two cases were in Odessa. In other regions were one case each: in Dnipropetrovsk, Zakarpattia, Lviv, Zaporizhia and Kropyvnytskyi.

Five journalists and four journalists encountered prejudice to their rights.

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI has recorded 38 cases of violations of freedom of speech, 12 cases of obstruction, nine cases of restricted access, seven cases of cybercrime, four beatings and two - threats.

Read more about the state of freedom of speech on the IMI website in the "Press Freedom Barometer" section .

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