In 2018 IMI has revealed 235 incidents involving violations of press freedom at non-occupied territory of Ukraine. These figures are less than during the same period in 2017, when 281 cases of press freedom violations have been found out (to compare: 264 facts reported in 2016, 310 facts reported in 2015, 995 facts reported in 2014). Such are the results of the early survey held by the Institute of Mass Information.
As to elements found out by IMI, during first six months of 2018, we have observed an increase of number of violations, especially of a physical assault, as compared to 2017. But during the second half-year, since September approximately, a situation has been “stabilized” in a certain manner.
“During the first half-year of 208, we have been observing an abrupt growth of assaults against the journalists and facts of physical aggression. At the same time, during the second half year we have not seen any harsh “peaks”. We explain it by several reasons: first of all, a large public reaction after savage assault committed against the activist Kateryna Gandzuk and extremely negative reaction at the society and by international community to this case, what, probably damped down potential assailants. As well, we don’t exclude the murder of Gandzuk could have a restraining effect to the journalist community, especially in the regions, who started criticizing with more of caution, this issue needs to be examined apart. And, finally,we are observing now a calm before “the tempest” of election developments of 2019”, told IMI executive director Oksana Romanyuk.
The main challenge in terms of press freedom in 2018 is physical aggression against the journalists. The leading categories viewing the number of violations are: obstructions to activity of journalism, threats and assaults against the journalists (as a comparison: in 2017 there were facts of obstruction to journalistic activity, access to information and threats). Out of the total number of violations, 173 incidents were physical assaults against the journalists.
In 2018 the leader viewing the number of breaches was the category “obstruction to professional activity of journalist”: 96 cases (these figures exceed the same number in 2017, when 92 incidents of obstruction had been revealed). This category assuredly takes first position since beginning of the year. Mostly, this year, as previous year as well, the journalists have been impeded to practice their professional activity by some private persons, local authorities, deputies and law enforcement officials.
At the second position is the category “threats and intimidations of the journalists”: 33 facts (in 2017, there had been reported more of threats: 38). The journalists have been threatened the most by the private persons, local authorities and deputies.
The third position is to the category “beatings and physical assaults”: 31 facts (as a comparison: in 2017 we reported 30 such incidents).
Viewing the number of incidents reported, at the forth position is the category “restriction of the access to public information”: 19 facts. During the same period in 2017, twice as much of such cases: 41, when this category took the second position. This year, the access to public information has been restricted more often by central and local public agencies.
The fifth position as to the number of violations are cyber-attacks : 15 cases, during the same period in 2017, we reported the same number of breaches.
The leading region as to the number of violations is Kyiv and thee Kyiv region (97 incidents). Then it follows by the region of Mykolaiv (16 cases), region of Dnipropetrovsk and of Poltava (12 cases in each region), the region of Odessa (11 cases), region of Lviv (10 cases). In other regions there have been reported 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 incident for two regions. One should notice, this year for the first time the regions of Dnipropetrovsk and Lviv got in the top five regions leaders of press freedom violations. At the same time, for the third year long the regions of Mykolaiv and Poltava remain in the top five.
The right of journalists to fulfill their professional activity has been violated the mostly by some private persons, officials of the central and local public authorities and law enforcement officials.
At the occupied territories of Donetsk and Louhansk regions, due to very limited possibilities to get access to the spot, IMI could reveal only 2 facts of violations (in 2017 there were 3 facts). In particular, in 2018 the web-sites of separatists the data of 11 journalists for Ukrainian mass media outlets have been made public. As well, we have to recall, the journalist Stanislav Aseev is in captivity at so called Donetsk public republic, since May or June 2017, as to the various sources of information.
In annexed Crimea, in 2018 we could report 12 new facts of violations of press freedom (in 2017, there had been 16 cases). Moreover, this year in Crimea they detained civic journalists, which category of journalism appeared after the independent journalism has been eradicated at the peninsula.
More of details, you could read at IMI web-site, under the head “Freedom of Press Barometer”.