IMI records 14 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine in June
In June IMI experts recorded 14 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Six 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 shelling and injuring journalists, cybercrimes.
At the same time, IMI recorded eight freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include obstruction, property damage and restricting access to public information.
Two media workers were killed in action in June:
- Roman Chornomaz – a Ukrainian activist, journalist, photoreporter, long-time member of the "Nasha Vira" editorial team, Freedom Legion soldier, killed in a battle in the Bakhmut area on June 13, 2023.
- Ivan Shulha – sound director and soldier, killed in action on June 16, 2023. He was a live broadcast sound director at "Priamyi" TV.
In total, 63 media workers were killed in Ukraine, 10 of whom died while reporting.
In Kherson, foreign and Ukrainian journalists covering the evacuation of locals who were affected by the flood, which was triggered by the Kakhovskaya HPP explosion, came under Russian fire. As freelance reporter Stas Kozlyuk told IMI, there were many journalists in the spot that came under fire. Among them were Stas Yurchenko, Lyubomyra Remazhevska, Yevheniy Savilov, Inna Varenytsia, the "Deutsche Welle" and "Suspilne" crews.
In addition, a team of four media workers came under Russian fire in the recently liberated Blahodatne village (Donetsk oblast). As Olha Kosova, Olha Kosova, a freelancer who works with Spanish media, told IMI, the occupiers opened fire with the "Grad" MLRS when they noticed people moving. There were no casualties.
The Russians continue to create fake Ukrainian media websites. This time, another clone of the RBC-Ukraine website appeared in the web. The Russian propagandists used this website to post a misleading article titled "Zaluzhny spells everything out." In the article, which is purportedly written by the news feed editor, Dmytro Braslavskyi, they cite a similarly fake Facebook post by the UAF Commander-in-Chief, Valery Zaluzhny. With this report, the Russians are trying to promote the belief that "it's all over," the counteroffensive has failed, Zelensky has betrayed everyone, there will be no more weapons, and other such false and pessimistic narratives.
Furthermore, a Russian shelling attack on Kramatorsk on June 27 resulted in a missile hitting a downtown pizzeria where customers, including journalists, were dining. Two reporters were injured – a British freelance photographer, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, and a journalist from South America, Catalina Gómez, who were at the pizzeria.
Dmytro, an interpreter accompanying one of the reporters, was also injured.
The freedom of speech situation in Ukraine for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible
The eight freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible include cases of obstruction, damage to journalists' property, and restricting access to public information.
In Kharkiv, reporters from Channel 5 and Channel 24 were prevented from filming in a public space – the Shevchenko Garden – without a permission from the mayor, Ihor Terekhov.
The Canadian "Globe and Mail" wrote that the Ukrainian government had failed to renew the media accreditation for Anton Skyba, a photojournalist who has worked with The Globe and Mail since 2014, after it expired. The Ukrainian security services have demanded a lie-detector test, accusing the reporter of holding a Russian passport and questioning whether his work is aligned with the country’s “national interests.” According to Skyba, the SBU said he had to pass a lie detector test for them to consider renewing his accreditation. However, after the issue gained traction, his accreditation for covering the war in Ukraine was renewed until September 5, 2023.
Freelancer photojournalist Stas Kozlyuk has reported that the authorities threatened to strip him of accreditation for taking pictures of the black bags with the victims' bodies in Kryvyi Rih. The reporters had arrived to work on the ground after a rocket strike on a high-rise building. They faced obstruction by a woman who presumably works in public relations at the regional military administration. According to Kozlyuk, the woman assured them that if the media wanted to take pictures of the black bags with the bodies of the dead, they would have to obtain a filming permission from the dead people's families. In their turn, the media workers said that they were not violating anything, but had come to document Russia's crimes and would not be filming the bodies of the dead or making unethical close-ups of their faces. We remind that on June 13, 2023, a Russian attack killed 10 people and injured 28 more in Kryvyi Rih, one more person remaining under the rubble.
Believers of the UOC (ROC-affiliated) keep obstructing the work of journalists. This month, a church's parishioners in Cherkasy attacked Maksym Tkachenko, a videoreporter for the media outlet 18000, and damaged his equipment.
In Kostopil, (Rivne oblast), unknown persons set the house of the former district newspaper editor, writer and founder of the Facebook community "Our Kostopil", Oleksandr Namozov, on fire. He views this as an attempt on his life. Namozov suggests that the authorities might be behind the arson, because he's been calling out the corruption in the government in his materials. According to the Kostopil City Council, such allegations "sound like libel."
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