In July, in Ukraine there was the largest registered number of beatings of journalists since the beginning of the year – 7 cases. For comparison, in February there were 2 beatings of journalists, in March – 5, April – 1, May – 6, June – 1.
This is the data from the monthly monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information (IMI) “Freedom of speech barometer”.
In particular, in Kyiv in the end of July, the photographer of Associated Press Yefrem Lukatskyi was pepper-sprayed in the eyes by police officer when he was taking footage clashes between protesters and the police in the eco-park in Osokorky residential area.
In Kryvyi Rih, the correspondent of information portal “Pershyi Kryvorizkyi”, Mykola Chyrva, was punched into face by vice-head of a department of communal enterprise “High-speed tramway”, when the journalist was performing the editorial assignment related to confirming or refuting the statement on cruel treatment of animals on the territory of this enterprise. The indictment on the attacker was sent to the court by the local Kryvyi Rih prosecutor’s officve No.3 for intentional causing of injury and obstruction of lawful professional activities of journalist (p.1, art.125 and p.1 of aer.171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
Also, in July there were 5 registered cases of threats to journalists, the number of this violations also increased in comparison with the previous months.
In total, in July IMI registered 28 cases of violation of freedom of speech in Ukraine, of them 21 case is physical aggression against journalists.
The largest number of cases took place in Kyiv and its oblast (10), three took place in Dnipropetrovska oblast, and two in each of Kirovohradska, Lvivska, Odeska and Poltavska oblasts, in other regions – one case in each.
In July, the aggressors and violators were mainly private individuals and law enforcement officers.
In addition, IMI experts registered 3 cases of cyber-attacks against mass media websites, and 1 case in each of the categories – attacks against mass media offices, damaging property of journalists, indirect and legal pressures, court claims against mass media, access to information.
The Parliamentary Standing Order Committee tried to limit access of journalists to the unofficial communications in the Parliament. The journalist community believes that this initiative of the committee, will cause curtailing of the freedom of speech, because “creation of such “ghetto” for journalists will cause only one thing: the journalists will have access not to the speakers in demand by the audience or requested in editorial assignment, but only to those authorized by the PR service of the parliamentary factions”.
Thus, since the beginning of the year IMI registered 63 cases of impediment to lawful activities of journalists, 22 cases of beatings of journalists, 18 cases of threats and 10 cases of limitation of access to information.
More details about status of freedom of speech can be found in section of IMI website “Freedom of speech barometer”.
Institute of mass information conducts monthly all–Ukrainian monitoring of freedom of speech based on the following categories: physical aggression, censorship and access to information, economic and political pressure, legal pressure and cyber-crime against mass media and journalists. The monthly report includes only the cases related to freedom of speech and professional journalist activities. More details on methodology can be found here.
Research of the status of freedom of speech in Ukraine is conducted as part of Ukrainian media project (U–Media), which is conducted by international NGO “Internews Network” with support of the US Adency for International Development (USAID)