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558 crimes against the media and journalists committed by Russia in the year and 11 months of the big war

24.01.2024, 10:00
Photo from Getty Images Signature
Photo from Getty Images Signature

In the year and eleven months since the start of the full-scale invasion Russia has committed 558 crimes against journalists and the media in Ukraine.

This is evidenced by the monthly monitoring "Freedom of Speech Barometer" by the Institute of Mass Information.

In November–December, the IMI recorded 10 freedom of speech violations committed by Russia: wounding journalists, shelling media offices, blocking online access to media outlets and media outlets closing down due to the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Over this period, five media workers were wounded by Russian shelling strikes on Ukrainian cities (Kharkiv and Kyiv) and on the front line in the Zaporizhzhia oblast. Both Ukrainian and foreign journalists were injured.

On December 30, 2023, and January 10, 2024, the Russians shelled two Kharkiv hotels often used by international media. The strike on the Kharkiv Palace hotel injured the Ukrainian interpreter for the German ZDF, Svitlana Dolbysheva, and the ZDF crew's safety advisor, who is a British citizen. Svitlana was diagnosed with a concussion, an open wound in the head, a lung contusion and hematoma, and fractured ribs.

The strike on the Park Hotel also affected the crew of the Turkish news agency Anadolu, namely the journalist Davit Kachkachishvili, who had minor cuts on his hands. The strike destroyed their car, which was parked nearby. The journalists said that they were shocked by the audacity of the Russians, since this site was exclusively civilian and no military personnel were present. The Ukrainian fixer for the TV channel France 2, Violetta Pedorych, was also injured by the strike. The journalists were checking into the hotel and were in the hallway at the time of the strike. They were unharmed. The galss shards cut Violetta Pedorych's face and hand. Now she has a glass shard stuck in the bridge of her nose, which the doctors plan to observe for some time.

Volodymyr Tymoshko, the head of the Kharkiv Oblast National Police HQ, said that Russia's targeting of the Park Hotel was a deliberate attack on journalists. All the victims were civilians and the hotel was mostly used by foreign journalists. "Soldiers have never stayed in this hotel, almost all of Kharkiv knows that. This hotel was used by journalists. It was a well-known fact. At the time of the attack, foreign journalists, namely from Turkiye, were staying in the hotel. This leads me to believe that the Russian Federation was targeting the mass media specifically," said Tymoshko.

Furthermore, Radio Liberty reporter Dmytro Yevchyn was injured on the front line on January 17. He and cameraman Mykyta Isayko came under artillery fire while filming a TV story near Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia oblast. Dmytro Yevchyn received a shrapnel wound in the leg and was timely evacuated and taken to a hospital.

The December 30, 2023 rocket strike on downtown Kharkiv severely damaged the offices of "Suspilne. Kharkiv" and Ukrainian Radio, which are located in the Radio House. The building's heating system was damaged; the windows, the doors, and the walls broke. According to "Suspilne. Kharkiv" manager Yevhenia Kolienova, staying there is now dangerous. The strike also damaged the office of the media group "Objektiv", where the TRC "Simon" is based.

The mass shelling strike on Kyiv on January 2 damaged the NV office building. Radio NV editor-in-chief, Oleksiy Tarasov, says that some windows were blown out and the entrance door was blown away. The team had to postpone the broadcast for two hours.

Russia's war on Ukraine keeps being a challenge for the media outlets that have to close down due to the economic crisis triggered by the full-scale invasion. On December 13, 2023, the Terebovlya newspaper "Volya" (Ternopil oblast), which has been in print since 1992, released their last printed issue. In the future, the media outlet will continue to report on the news in the community on its Facebook page.

The full monitoring is available in the section "Freedom of Speech Barometer".

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