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

05.06.2023, 19:19

In May, IMI experts recorded 11 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Four 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 abduction of journalists, cybercrimes.

At the same time, IMI recorded seven freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include assault, obstruction and cyberattacks.

In May, IMI recorded the deaths of six more media workers. One journalist, Arman Soldin, died while reporting, and fime more were killed in action while defending Ukraine from the occupiers.

  • Arman Soldin, video reporter for Agence France-Presse (AFP), killed by a rocket strike in Ukraine's east on May 9.
  • Volodymyr Mukan, soldier who used to be a journalist and editor for the "Hazeta Po-Ukrainsky", the "Kraina" magazine, and the website before the full-scale war. Killed while performing a combat mission in Bakhmut on April 23, 2023.
  • Denys Kryvy, nature photographer and soldier, killed near Bakhmut while trying to rescue his wounded comrades in the spring of 2023.
  • Ivan Kuzminsky, soldier and director at the TV channel for children "Malyatko TV", killed in a battle with the Russian occupiers near Dibrova, Luhansk oblast, on May 17, 2023.
  • Yevheniy Osievsky, soldier, columnist for the popular science magazine "Kunsht" and the social criticism magazine "Commons", killed in a battle near Bakhmut on May 22, 2023.
  • Victor Petrov, soldier, journalist and activist from Lviv, killed in action in Ukraine's east on May 29, 2023.

In total, Russia's armed aggression resulted in the death of 61 media workers in Ukraine. Of those, 10 died while reporting and 51 died as combatants or were killed by Russian shelling.

In temporarily occupied Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia oblast), local journalist Iryna Levchenko and her husband Oleksandr have been kidnapped. The occupiers detained the couple on the street, first keeping them together and then separating them. Iryna and her husband have been retired for several years.

In May, the Channel 24 website was attacked by Russian hackers. The Russians began rapidly posting fake news reports that contained threats and insults against the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and mailing out similar "push messages" to the readers. The channel managed to thwart the attack and promptly identified the vulnerabilities which had enabled the attack.

"Vechirny Kyiv" was also targeted by a Russian cyberattack. The hackers posted several copies of a news item by the hacker group Sontsepyok. They were posting the same news item every minute, which featured an image of Zelensky a clown costume and went approximately as follows: "Attention, Zelensky! We, the hacker group Sontsepyok, have hacked all the state websites, discovered all the information and corruption."

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

The seven freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible include cases of beatings, obstruction and cyberattacks.

In Poltava, an unknown man shoved the "Kolo" journalist and editor-in-chief, Tetiana Tsirulnik, and slapped her in the face. The incident happened on May 9 during the flower laying ceremony at the Soldier's Glory Memorial. One of the participants of ceremony arrived with a portrait of his father. The journalist, who was present there, said that the action was endorsing the Russian narratives and compared it to the pro-Russian "Immortal Regiment". Another man reacted to the debate very aggressively, first using obscene language to suggest that the journalist "gets away from here". And after the journalist protested, saying that they were in a public place that was open for everyone, the man first forcibly shoved the journalist away from the space in front of the memorial, then punched her in the face. The Poltava police opened a case under Part 2 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Threats or violence against a journalist").

Among the five cases of obstruction, two featured Suspilne journalists: parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (ROC-affiliated) grabbed their cameras, pushed and threatened them as they while filming parish meetings regarding the transition to the OCU. These cases occurred in Cherkasy and Kirovohrad oblasts.

Learn more here.

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