IMI: Editorial offices of local mass media and broadcasting tower in the East of Ukraine are being attacked by terrorists and separatists — 15 cases
Since beginning of March, 15 cases of attacks against and captures of mass media offices and TV broadcasting towers in the East of Ukraine were registered. This is the data of the Institute of Mass Information’s research.
The attacks were conducted by pro-Russian activists, separatists, and terrorists, masked and armed with firearms or clubs. The attackers demanded the TV channels to tell more about them, were saying that they would teach the journalists how to present news correctly. As a result, some offices were smashed and burned.
When capturing the TV broadcasting towers, separatists were immediately turning off Ukrainian channels, and turning on broadcasting of Russian channels instead.
In March, IMI registered 3 cases like this, in April — 9, in May — 3.
According to the IMI executive director, Oksana Romaniuk, local mass media are attacked because they are a source of true information for the population in Eastern regions of Ukraine, which keeps receiving mismatching and contradicting pictures from Russia and Ukrainian central mass media. «Local mass media are more trusted, they speak the language of the region, and the population has known them as "friendly" for a long time. Brutal attacks against offices of local mass media indicate that separatists deprive citizens in the Eastern regions of Ukraine of their constitutional right to stay informed, and try to completely black out any channels of alternative news, leaving Russian mass media as the only source », Romaniuk says.
For example, in March pro-Russian activists in Kharkiv broke into the TV channel Simon, and forced the staff to broadcast the Russian TV channel «Russia 24». The TV and radio company «Donbas» interrupted the broadcasting because pro-Russian activists broke into its TV studio demanding the journalists to tell more about them.
In Luhansk, pro-Russian people captured the building of the TV company «IRTA». A crowd of people broke the entrance door, entered all rooms, took all fire extinguishers away from the building, and threatened to put the TV company office on fire unless they were given the raw footage for the story on the capture of Luhansk Oblast State Administration on March 9, to destroy it.
In April, in Donetsk, unidentified individuals attempted to capture the Оblast State TV and Radio Company, but police repelled them. In Kharkiv, about 50 masked pro-Russian activists, wielding bats, smashed the ATN company’s hardware room. In Luhansk, at the TV channel «IRTA» , unidentified people wounded three security guards, when the latter tried to stop them.
In Kharkiv, unidentified individuals tried to capture Kharkiv regional broadcasting TV tower; they demanded, as an ultimatum, to restore broadcasting of Russian TV channels.
In Kramatorsk, armed fighters captured the TV tower of RRT Concern twice, on April 17 and 18. The captured broadcasting tower secures the TV signal not only for Kramatorsk, but also for Slovyansk, Gorlovka, and Makiyivka. The intruders turned off Ukrainian TV channels and ordered to start broadcasting Russian channels.
In Torez, Donetska oblast, unidentified individuals smashed and put on fire the office of the local newspaper «Pro gorod». One more office was smashed and put on fire in Donetsk region, in the city of Konstantynivka.
In May, in the city of Torez, Donetska oblast, approximately 50 unidentified masked individuals, wielding clubs and bats, smashed the office of the municipal newspaper «Gorniak». The attack against the editorial office of the newspaper «Gorniak» was a response to the newspaper not publishing information on the separatists’ activities in the city.
In the city of Kostiantynivka, Donetska oblast, armed men blocked the editorial office of the local newspaper «Provintsia». The attackers sealed the office, and took its editor-in-chief Mykhailo Razputko and the newspaper founder Halyna Razputko to the separatist HQ, where both of them were told that they «no longer work in the newspaper’s editorial office.»
On May 8 in Donetsk, representatives of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” captured the building of the independent TV channel «Union». Armed separatists said that they intend to control the work of the TV channel staff.