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IMI records 11 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine in July

08.08.2023, 11:39

In July IMI experts recorded 11 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Four of them were committed by Russia and targeted 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 injuring journalists and legal pressure.

At the same time, IMI recorded seven freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include assault, threats, censorship and indirect pressure on journalists and media.

Three media workers who had enlisted to defend Ukraine were killed in action in July:

  • Kostyantyn Hnitetsky, a serviceman and former videographer for Suspilne's Rivne branch, killed by Russian mortar fire near Dibrova, Luhansk oblast, on July 16.
  • Dmytro Rybakov, a soldier, journalist and historian, killed in the Zaporizhzhia area on July 18. Before the war, he was as an editor and media consultant at Chas.News, "Forbes Ukraine", LB, "Ukrainian Pravda".
  • Maksym Shwartzman, a soldier, photojournalist and videographer for the Chernivtsi news agency ACC, killed in action in Donetsk oblast on July 15.

In total, as per IMI's estimations, 66 media workers have been killed by Russia's aggression in Ukraine, 10 of whom died while reporting.

Three journalists (both foreign and Ukrainian) were injured in July. TSN correspondent Yulia Kiriyenko suffered a concussion on July 19 in the combat zone in Donetsk oblast, where she was filming a material about the Ukrainian defenders. "The Russians opened targeted fire either from a tank or from a howitzer – we didn't have time to process it. We felt five hits, two aimed at the dugout where we were hiding. Fortunately, while they were reloading their weapon, we managed to get into the car and drive away from the shelling," the journalist said.

Deutsche Welle (DW) cameraman Yevhen Shylko received a shrapnel wound on July 22, when Russians shelled Druzhkivka (Donetsk oblast) with cluster bombs. The DW filming crew came under Russian fire around 12:10 p.m. while filming Ukrainian soldiers at a training camp near Druzhkivka.

Dylan Collins, a reporter for the French news agency AFP, was also wounded. This happened as a result of a drone strike near Bakhmut, Donetsk oblast, on July 24. All of the journalists were injured while reporting and had been covering the work of Ukrainian military.

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

The seven freedom of speech violations for which citizens of Ukraine were responsible include cases of assault, death threats, censorship and indirect pressure. These cases were recorded in Rivne, Sumy, Kyiv, Cherkasy, as well as in Odesa and Poltava oblasts.

In Sumy, IMI recorded two cases of death threats targeting the local media outlet CUKR. Unknown persons started threatening to destroy the editorieal team's office following a material about the life of the local LGBTQ+ community. The call to destroy the CUKR office was posted by the Telegram channel "Sumy: Holovne". “They are promoting the LGBT fad, the ninny lifestyle, and other soyboy qualities. This dumpster is sponsored by unidentified international funds. Well, we know what kind of human rights advocates they are and what exactly they are sponsoring: the spread of f*ggotry and the support for gender uncertainties. It's time to destroy this stinking hole," the Telegram channel wrote in their post, which features the office's address.

The police opened a case over threats to "CUKR" journalists, filed under Part 1 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Threats or violence against a journalist").

The second time, the team received death threats. The same Telegram channel posted a photo of the "CUKR" team with the employees' names on it, captured "Enemies of the people. Hit list 2024".

In Ananyiv, Odesa oblast, unknown persons assaulted and beat Volodymyr Sedov, chief editor of the newspaper "Visti Ananyivshchyny". The journalist believes the assault has to do with his professional work, particularly with his investigations into corruption in the local authorities. Sedov's fingers on one hand were injured and he was diagnosed with a concussion. The police have opened a case under Part 2 of Art. 345-1 (threat or violence against a journalist) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Learn more here.

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