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EFJ condemns the establishment of the Russian Union of Journalists in occupied Ukraine

28.10.2022, 15:20

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns the establishment of branches of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) in the Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia. The EFJ calls on RUJ to renounce these settlements.

EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez and EFJ President Maja Sever stated this at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on October 27, which was discussing the situation in Ukraine.

"Trade unions must be at the service of the workers and not serve the political interests and imperialist impulses of governments," Gutierrez said.

The Russian Union of Journalists announced their intention to establish four new branches on their website on October 24. The branches are to be opened in the Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia on 30 September: in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

The President of NUJU, Sergiy Tomilenko, and the President of IMTUU, Serhiy Shturhetsky, immediately condemned these settlements: “Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions are Ukrainian territories. Branches of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine have long been established and functioning in these regions. The creation of RUJ's branches on the territory of Ukraine is a serious violation of international law and an interference in the sphere of activity of NUJU and IMTUU”.

EFJ President Maja Sever said that these settlements looked "like a provocation we could have done without." "I can understand that the Russian Union of Journalists has had to intervene to support journalists in difficulty in the occupied Ukrainian territories, but there was no reason to go so far as to establish four new RUJ branches in these Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Russia. By doing so, RUJ is actively participating in the Kremlin’s policy of Russification of the occupied regions. Journalists of the newly-annexed territories will have to decide between accepting the new leaders and their organisations, or resisting it, risking their lives," she said.

EFJ reminds that in June 2022, the EFJ General Meeting adopted in Izmir (Turkey) a motion, tabled by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ, UK and Ireland), which condemned Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine: “Destructive propaganda, misinformation and incitement to hatred against Ukrainians have been part of Putin’s strategy, along with the deployment of tanks, missiles, planes and military units near the border with Ukraine. (…) The Russian media has, for the most part, played a supportive role to Putin’s invasion, justifying military actions, under-reporting atrocities, and dishonestly portraying events in Ukraine as a ‘special military operation’.”

As IMI reported, in May 2022, the Association of Ukrainian Media, Journalists and Public Organizations "Media Movement" addressed the International Federation of Journalists, calling on it to expel the Russian Union of Journalists. This issue had already been raised at the IFJ in early March by a number of representatives of Northern European countries.

Media Movement also called on domestic authorized representatives of the IFJ (Serhiy Tomilenko of NUJU and Serhiy Shturkhetsky of IMTUU) to include this issue in the agenda of the IFJ congress, which was to be held on 31.05–03.06 in Oman.

In October, it became known that the Russian state propaganda company "All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company" plans to open its branches in the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

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