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IMI records 10 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine in April

03.05.2023, 09:04
Cover by IMI
Cover by IMI

In April, IMI experts recorded 10 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Five of them were committed by Russia and targeted Ukrainian media and journalists.

This is evidenced by the monthly monitoring "Freedom of Speech Barometer" by the Institute of Mass Information.

The crimes against media committed by Russia include murder and wounding of journalists, cybercrimes.

At the same time, IMI recorded five freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include cases of obstruction, censorship, and restriction of access to public information.

The Ukrainian producer of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Bohdan Bitik, was killed by the Russian attack on Kherson on April 26. He was working together with the newspaper's correspondent Corrado Zunino, who was wounded in the attack.

In April, IMI recorded the deaths of five more media workers who had gone to the frontline to defend Ukraine and were killed in action:

Andriy Boyko, former cameraman at the Ivano-Frankivsk TRC "Vezha", soldier. Killed by the enemy's fire near Hulyaipole (Zaporizhia oblast) on April 6. Andriy voluntarily enlisted the Armed Forces in the first days of the full-scale war and served as the commander of the Dmytro Vitovsky Separate Brigade 102.

Vladyslav Dzikovsky, "Detector Media" system administrator, private, senior armored vehicle machine gunner who served in the Serhiy Kulchytsky operational battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine, was killed in Luhansk oblast in December 2022. 

Dmytro Siryk, a presenter at the "Suspilne Donbas" branch and a soldier, died in Donetsk oblast on April 20. He was the host of "Peremotka" – an original program about music news and hits. After the full-scale invasion, he took his family – his son, parents, and girlfriend – to a safe place in Ukraine. A few weeks later, in March 2022, Dmytro Siryk was mobilized.

Oleksandr Bondarenko, soldier, journalist, and communications officer, was killed near Dibrova village (Luhansk oblast) on April 22; he served in the UAF TDF Brigade 112.

Volodymyr Mukan, soldier who worked as a journalist and editor at the "Gazeta Po-Ukrainsky", the "Kraina" magazine, and the "" before the full-scale war. Killed in Bakhmut while performing a combat mission on April 29, 2023.

In total, Russia's armed aggression resulted in the death of 56 media workers in Ukraine. Of those, nine died while reporting, 47 died as combatants or were killed by Russian shelling not while exercising their profession.

Several Ukrainian media outlets reported fake websites and online pages that mimicked their interface and logos and distributed disinformation.

Namely, a fake website imitating the online publication "Ukrainian Pravda" has appeared on the Internet and featured a fake column by the journalist, military officer Pavlo Kazarin. The "Ukrainian Pravda" contacted the SBU with a request to take action and believes that this is a Russian psyop aimed at discrediting the army and subverting trust in the Ukrainian leadership, both military and political.

The online media Obozrevatel reported that fake news about "the allies betraying us" were being distributed under their name. The fake posts purportedly by the Obozrevatel were being promoted on Facebook via paid-for advertising feature. The media outlet believes this to be a Russian psyop as well and has contacted the Security Service of Ukraine to take appropriate action.

Another media outlet, the Ukrinform, has reported that Russian propagandists were sharing a fake news report mimicking Ukrinform on social media. The fake news, designed to mimic the Ukrinform's layout, says that Ukraine has registered a draft bill banning taking photos and video at cemeteries, citing the Parliament's website as the source. Yet, the Ukrinform noted that this news was a fake and there has been no such report on their website.

The freedom of speech situation in Ukraine for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible

At the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, an unknown man damaged the lighting equipment of the video camera used by an online media outlet's journalist to film a report. The police has opened a case under Part 1 of Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (obstructing the legal professional work of journalists). As IMI learned from their own sources, the affected journalist works at the online media outlet "Nasha Versia".

The Suspilne Kropyvnytsky filming crew were not allowed to attend an open court hearing at the Kirovsky District Court of Kropyvnytsky. The court staff's promise to invite them to the courtroom were not fulfilled. It was only after the fact that the journalists learned that the hearing had already been held, as the prosecutors working on this case started leaving the court.

An instance of censorship was recorded in Cherkasy oblast: the editor of the Talne newspaper "Kolos", Iryna Rohova, said that the deputy head of the Zvenyhorod district military administration (Cherkasy oblast), Oleksandr Dubovy, prohibited the local newspapers from any publishing articles critical of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church). According to her, Dubovy argues that such articles incite religious enmity in the country.

IMI reported two instances of restriction of access to public information in Chernivtsy and Rivne. The utility company "Chernivtsi Trolleybus Management" declined an online information request by "Molody Bukovynets" journalist Lyudmila Osadchuk. The lack of both an electronic and handwritten signature was cited as the reason for the refusal.

In Rivne, he online media "Chetverta Vlada" has filed a lawsuit with the Court of Appeal against the Rivne Regional Prosecutor's Office. The reason for this was the prosecutors' refusal to provide journalists with a copy of the investment agreement with a Rivne developer regarding the construction of houses for prosecutors on communal land.

Learn more here.

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