IMI records 10 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine in January
In January, IMI experts recorded 10 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Nine of them were committed by Russia against Ukrainian media and journalists.
The Russian crimes include kidnapping, firing at and wounding journalists, cybercrimes, as well as disabling Ukrainian broadcasting and the media closing down due to the Russian Federation's war against Ukraine.
At the same time, IMI recorded one freedom of speech violation for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. This is a case of online pressure.
These are the monitoring data by the Institute of Mass Information.
This month, journalist, author, restaurateur from Odesa, Ihor Teryokhin, was killed in action. He had been defending Ukraine from Russian occupiers since the first days of the full-scale invasion. Ihor worked at TRC "RIAK" and was a member of the "Hlas Media Group" team. He had studied winemaking at the Odesa National Academy of Food Technologies, eventually becoming a restaurateur.
According to IMI, Ihor Teryokhin is the 44th media worker to die as a result of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Eight of them died in the course of their journalistic work, 36 died as combatants or were killed by Russian shelling, not in the line of journalistic duty.
In January, Bild reporter Bjorn Stritzel was injured by shrapnel in a Russian shelling attack on Druzhkivka town (Donetsk oblast). Stritzel was sitting by the window when an explosion went off in the town, so he was slightly injured by a glass shard. The journalist reported that he had gotten a cut on the forehead while having dinner at his hotel. The Bild team was in Druzhkivka, filming a report.
In Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, two foreign filming crews and one Ukrainian crew came under Russian fire. These were the crews of "Dom", the French TMC, and the Czech Česká Televize. Neither crew was injured.
According to Ukrainian war correspondent, Česká Televize fixer Anastasia Zhuk, the Russian military deliberately shelled a spot near Bakhmut (Donetsk oblast) where their crew was working. The journalists themselves and their cars were marked with "PRESS" stickers. Anastasia says that before the attack, there was a drone hovering over them. The shell hit the road 20 meters away from the journalists' car. The journalists were unharmed, but they were frightened.
January saw reports of Anatoliy Garagatyi, 69, a local blogger from the Savyntsi hromada (Kharkiv oblast), being kidnapped. The man was detained back in May 2022. The Russian occupiers kept him in custody for over three months. In March 2022, he filmed a Russian tank convoy entering Savintsy and posted the video on social media. The man was accused of helping the UAF aim their fire, tortured with tasers, had a sack thrown over his head. He was kept in Balaklia, in a detention ward of the local police department. On September 4, two days before Balaklia was liberated, Anatoliy Garagatyi and one of his cell mates were unexpectedly released. At the same time, the Russians threatened to kill the blogger if he picked up a video camera even once.
Among cybercrimes IMI recorded an attack on Ukrinform. According to the State Special Communications Service, the news agency's website may have been hacked by the Sandworm group, which is associated with the Chief Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU).
Another case of Internet pressure concerned Tetyana Mykytenko, who runs the "Raguli" blog. She restricted the access to the content on her YouTube due to bots attempting to block the channel. The complaints resulted in YouTube blocking her content and sending her a strike. According to Tetyana, the blocked videos included an episode of "Chytanka" dedicated to Todos Osmachka's "Rotunda of Murderers" – a book about the crimes of Stalin's regime – where she compared Stalin and Putin. Her video about Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov, where she explained why she believed he works on the Kremlin's payroll, was also flagged.
The newspaper "Kolos" temporarily closed down for 2023 due to lack of funding. The newspaper's editor-in-chief, Leon Kondratyuk, announced this in the last issue (December 22, 2022).
The freedom of speech situation in Ukraine for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible
In January, IMI recorded one freedom of speech violation – online pressure.
Unknown persons have created a Facebook page for posting allegations against the online publication "Chetverta Vlada". The media considers it manipulation, lies, and gossip around the team's public reports, as well as revenge by a former state official. The Facebook page mostly criticizes the agency's financial policy. However, the publication posts all information about their funding on their website. The "Chetverta Vlada" editor-in-chief, Volodymyr Torbich, believes that a mayor of a former district center in Rivne oblast took offense at the journalists and him personally for their inquiries and incriminating reports, deciding to arrange a kind of black PR for the publication.
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