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Freedom of press barometer for June 2017

05.07.2017, 13:07

In June, IMI registered 29 cases of violations of journalists’ rights and freedom of press in Ukraine. The largest number of violations was recorded in the category “cyber attacks” – 11 and “obstruction” – 10. Also, for the first time since the beginning of the year, one case of abduction was recorded – the one of the Ukrainian blogger in Donetsk occupied by the ‘DPR’ militants – Stanislav Vasin (Aseyev).

While the number of obstruction cases has been around the same for the last two months (May – 9, April – 8), in June the highest number of cyber attacks was recorded since the beginning of the year (January – 1, February – 2, April – 1). These are the data presented in the monthly monitoring by the Institute of Mass Information “Freedom of Press Barometer”.

Overall, IMI registered violations of freedom of press and of journalists’ rights in June in 11 oblasts of Ukraine. In particular, this month the highest number of such violations was recorded in Kyiv and Kyivska oblast (11 cases) and Odeska oblast, where 4 cases were recorded.

The ones that violated the journalists’ rights for professional activities in June were, according to IMI monitoring, private individuals, hackers, local authorities, law enforcement officers and SBU (Security Service of Ukraine).

Early in June it became known that journalist Stanislav Vasin (Aseyev) disappeared in the militants-occupied Donetsk. His apartment showed it was broken into and searched. As IMI found out, Stanislav Vasin was a contributor to the Radio Liberty project “Donbas. Realii”, “Ukrainskyi Tyzhden”, “Ukrainska Pravda”,

Stanislav Aseyev’s friends, relatives, and colleagues pleaded with forein media outlets to make public the story of the journalist disappearing in Donetsk. Ex-MP Yehor Firsov learned from unofficial sources that Aseyev is alive and is being detained by representatives of the so-called “Ministry of State Security” in the self-proclaimed “DPR”. At the same time, Aseyev’s relatives contacted the “LPR” as to where Stas is being kept and what is going on with him, writes Firsov, but received no answer.

On June 26, the adviser to the head of SBU Yuriy Tandit reported that Stanislav Vasin (Aseyev) was included to the list of Ukrainian hostages for prisoner exchange.

“All this time, Stanislav was staying on the territory not controlled by the Ukrainian government as he believed it to be his duty to stay in the thick of the events and to write about what was going on there. He was aware of the risks but stayed nevertheless”, said Ex-MP Yehor Firsov, who is Stanislav’s friend.

An unexpectedly large-scale hacker attack on June 27 incapacitated several Ukrainian media outlets. Later, it became known that the attack predominantly targeted Ukraine. It  was  established  that the malware Petya. А encrypts the data on the affected computer and demands ransom, although after the money is paid the data isnot restored. Among the affected media outlets there were the media holding TV and Radio Company “Lux”, TV channels “Kyiv”, ATR, “Chornomorska TV and Radio Company”, “Do TeBe”, and the media group Inter Media Group. The websites of editions of the media holding UMH were also under attack. In Kropyvnytskyi, the virus Petya affected two local newspapers’ editorial offices and the editorial office of Rivne-based TV channel ‘RTV’.

Also, this month IMI registered 3 cases of beatings (the number was the same as in May), 2 cases of indirect pressure and 1 case of damage to journalists’ property and restricting access to public information each.

So, since the beginning of the year IMI registered 9 cases of beatings, 4 cases of censorship, 42 cases of obstruction, 17 – restricting access to public information and 14 cases of threats.

The full text of the Barometer is available here.

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