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IMI records 9 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine in February

06.03.2023, 18:49
Cover by IMI
Cover by IMI

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

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

As for Russia's crimes, these were mainly opening fire on journalists and cybercrimes. A detailed description of Russia's war crimes against the media is available here.

At the same time, IMI recorded four cases of freedom of speech violation for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include cases of obstruction, restriction of access to public information, and cyber attacks.

February saw the deaths of three Ukrainian journalists who had gone to defend Ukrane.

  • Pavlo Tymoshenko – a cameraman for the Cherkasy branch of "Inter", killed on February 5 near Vuhledar (Donetsk oblast). He been a cameraman at the Cherkasy offices of VIKKA, 1+1, and Inter since 2008. Pavlo Tymoshenko was 42 years old. He had three children.
  • Serhiy Klymenko – "Suspilne Kherson" staff member, killed in a battle with the Russian occupiers in Maryinka, Donetsk oblast, on February 5. He worked in the tech division of Kherson radio and television company "Skifia" (now — "Suspilne Kherson") for many years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
  • Oleksiy Borys – "Yurydychna Hazeta" journalist, a soldier of the 58th Brigade, killed in action on February 9 on the Bakhmut axis. Oleksiy Borys worked at "Yurydychna Hazeta" since the spring of 2021, previously he had been a Paralegal at Arzinger. He was 27 years old.

Two filming crews came under Russian fire in Bakhmut, Donetsk oblast, and nearby: a Ukrainian one (Zaborona) and an international one – journalists from Bild.

Among the cybercrimes, IMI recorded the Russian hackers streaming a fake address by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Channel 24. However, the channel managed to resume broadcasting quickly.

Hackers breached Ukraïner's Facebook pages of and took over them. In his comment to IMI, Bohdan Logvynenko said he did not rule out that Russians might have been involved in the hacker attack on the project's Facebook pages. Later, he reported that Facebook had restored access to all 12 pages of Ukraïner.

Another case of cybercrime: hackers played the USSR anthem on the air of Inter. This happened as Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security Council, was speaking on the "Unified Telethon". Inter Media Group's technical service reported that they have taken all the necessary measures to eliminate the threat of external interference in the operation of the broadcast servers.

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

In February, IMI recorded four cases of freedom of speech violations for which the Ukrainian side was responsible. These include cases of obstruction, restriction of access to public information, and cyber attacks.

For instance, in Cherkasy, lawyer Ihor Holubchyk prevented journalists from the local newspaper "18000" from covering a public meeting of supporters of UOC (MP) Metropolitan Bishop Theodosius near the Cherkasy District Prosecutor's Office. At that moment, the clergyman himself was inside the Prosecutor's Office, where he was being interrogated for an investigation. Lawyer Ihor Holubchyk and some other unidentified persons were simply covering the journalists' cameras at first, and then started pushing the journalists away from the metropolitan, who was exiting the Prosecutor's Office, where he had spent a little over an hour.

Channel 5 journalist Hanna Rybalka faced cyberbullying after asking the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a question at his February 24 press conference. Unknown persons started texting her on Facebook Messenger with various insults.  She was accused of "provoking the President for Channel 5's chocholate money," of "having earned a fortune and promoted herself," called a "journalist for sale."

Access restrictions were recorded in Kyiv and Mykolaiv. For instance, officials and managers of Mykolaiv communal enterprises cited the martial law to refuse to provide a journalist with information about the salaries received by civil servants and employees of communal enterprises in 2022.

Learn more here.

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