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IMI recorded 12 cases of violations of freedom of speech in November

03.12.2021, 19:02

In November, IMI experts recorded 12 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Half of them (sixcases) were facts of physical aggression against journalists. These are the data of the monthly monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information "Freedom of Speech Barometer" *.

The most common violations in November were facts of obstruction (four) and cybercrime (three). There were also two cases of beatings and censorship and one case of legal pressure.

For example, in November, an assault was made on the IMI spokeswoman Alyona Bereza. An unknown man poured a chemical liquid on the journalist, afterwards the police provided Bereza with state protection, and an investigation is underway. 

In addition, IMI experts recorded a fact of pressure from the State Bureau of Investigation on Censor.Net editor-in-chief Yuriy Butusov over a released video of him firing a 152-mm D-20 howitzer (the SBI has opened criminal proceedings under the articles which do not apply to civilians if only there are no additional circumstances (Article 414 of the Criminal Code ("Violation of the rules of handling weapons, as well as substances and objects that pose an increased danger to the surroundings") and 437 of the Criminal Code ("Planning, preparation, resolution and conduct of aggressive war"). For his part, Yuri Butusov found that in this way, the President Volodymyr Zelensky took revenge on him "for his shameful press conference." As IMI reported, on November 26, the President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the editor-in-chief of Censor.net of deaths in Donbas due to publication of a video of a Bayraktar drone. Yuriy Butusov replied to the head of state, saying he lied.

After the press marathon, Yuriy Butusov said he would sue the President Volodymyr Zelensky for slander.

Among the cases of censorship there was the shutdown of the English-language Kyiv Post , the editorial staff of which protested against pressure from the owner of the weekly, Adnan Kivan. 

The "censorship" category also includes accusations from former journalists with the Dom TV channel about instructions from the President's Office about how they should formulate the news. 

IMI experts draw attention to this year's increase in censorship cases in Ukraine compared to last year. Thus, in the span of the year 2020, IMI recorded two cases of censorship, and during the year 2021, not finished yet, there were already six cases of censorship, as media expert Kateryna Dyachuk observed.

Among the cases of obstruction that occurred in November , there was an attack by clergymen of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on journalists from the Magnolia-TV channel while filming a firefight in one of the monastery's premises. One of the priests snatched the phone from the journalist’s hands during the live broadcast. The journalist approached the clergy and tried to get the phone back, but Metropolitan Pavlo advised his subordinate to "to hit over the head" of the journalist. Finaly, one of the monastery's servants agreed to return the phone, but only if the footage was deleted.

The police initiated criminal proceedings under Part 1 of Art. 171 of the Criminal code of Ukraine ("Obstruction of lawful professional activity of journalists").

Violations were recorded in five regions of Ukraine. Kyiv, as usual, is the leader in terms of number of violations (eight), and one case each was recorded in Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky and Poltava.

The rights of journalists were violated by private individuals, local and judicial authorities, law enforcement and the President's Office.

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI has recorded 165 cases of violations of freedom of speech, 84 cases of obstruction, 21 beatings, 15 cybercrimes, 12 threats, 11 restrictions on access to information and six cases of censorship.

Read more about the state of freedom of speech on the IMI website in the "Freedom of Speech Barometer" section  .

The Institute of Mass Information conducts monthly all-Ukrainian monitoring of freedom of speech in the following categories: physical aggression, censorship and access to information, economic and political pressure, legal pressure and cybercrime against the media and journalists. Only cases related to freedom of speech and professional journalism are included in the monthly report. You can read more about the methodology  here .

This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, run by the Internews Network in partnership with Freedom House. The content is under the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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