Freedom of Press in May: journalist murdered, Ukrainian TV channels switched off in East, attacks on local media outlets
In May, the major challenges for freedom of press in Ukraine included attacks on offices of local media outlets, attacks on journalists, and switching off of Ukrainian TV channels in the East. These are the results of the monthly monitoring by the Institute of Mass Information «Freedom of Press Barometer».
In May, a journalist from a foreign media outlet perished in Ukraine for the first time. The Italian journalist, Andrea Rocchelli, who was covering the events in the East of Ukraine, and his translator Andriy Myronov came under fire of mortars near Sloviansk.
Besides, in May the IMI experts registered 38 cases of censorship (in April – 21 cases). Predominantly, censorship was connected with switching off of Ukrainian TV channels in the East. The number of obstruction to lawful professional journalist activities grew three and a half times (in April – 6, in May – 22 cases). The IMI experts also registered 18 beatings and attacks on journalists (in April – 22 cases) and 13 abductions of journalists (in April – 20 cases).
In May, journalists have been arrested illegally seven times, of them five in Crimea. In particular, in Simferopol the journalist Osman Pashayev and his Turkish operator Dzhengiz Kyzgyn were arrested, they were beaten, all their equipment was taken away from them, and forced to leave.
Another tendency of May 2014 was brutal attacks on offices of local media outlets in the East of Ukraine – 14 cases. For examples, in Torez of Donetska oblast unidentified men with bats smashed the office of the newspaper «Horniak» because its editor-in-chief refused to cooperate with Donetsk People’s Republic. In Luhansk, representatives of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic stopped the operation of the TV company IRTA.
Also, this month 7 internally displaced persons have been registered among journalists: 6 persons from the East of Ukraine and one from Crimea.
The IMI experts point out that in May the predominant majority of violations of freedom of press and journalists’ rights took place in the East of Ukraine, as in the previous month, and was connected with actions of terrorists.
In total, in May IMI registered 132 facts of violations of freedom of press.
«In the conditions of the present-day Ukraine, "censorship" is not just a prohibition to proliferate information, it is physical switching off of Ukrainian TV channels, — believes the IMI expert Kateryna Diachuk. — In May, the number of such cases has grown, in particular, among the channels that were switched off, were Ukrainian TV channels 1+1, Inter, STB, TVi, 112 Ukraina, Channel 5, Novy Kanal, ICTV, TET, and «Ukraina», as well as local TV channels, in the cities of Luhansk, Lysychansk, Krasny Luch, Artemivsk, Severodonetsk, Kostiantynivka, and Donetsk».
Since the beginning of the year, IMI has registered 2 cases of murder, 236 cases of beatings and attacks on journalists, 91 cases of obstruction to lawful professional journalist activities and 85 cases of censorship.