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Kyiv court bars reporter from recording a trial on audio

29.08.2023, 19:32

"Watchers" journalist Alina Kondratenko reports that the head of the Obolon district court of Kyiv, Olena Zhezhera, barred her from recording a hearing on audio or taking pictures.

The incident happened on August 29, Alina Kondratenko tells IMI.

According to the journalist, she was allowed to attend the trial, but was forbidden to record it.

"I wanted to take a couple of photos and make a recording that I could later listen to and write an article," Alina said, adding that the hearing was open and there was no decision to hold it behind closed doors.

The journalist had come to a trial in the case of a Russian citizen who stood accused of unauthorized spread of information about the transfer of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, the movement and location of UAF units.

"I am currently at the hearing, because everyone – including the judge, of course – knows there has been no decision to hold the meeting behind closed doors. It is interesting that the judge took initiative and barred me from taking photos and making an audio recording. After all, the parties did not submit any motions to limit filming. The judge also did not explain the reason for the ban, did not cite any rule," the journalist said.

She also added that while she was waiting in the corridor for the hearing to begin, the judge told her on the way to the courtroom that she would not let her to attend the session. "She didn't explain the reason either," Kondratenko said.

The Obolon district court did not respond to IMI's request for comment. The head of the court staff informed Alina Kondratenko that their communications officer was on sick leave.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko noted that the journalist has the right to record court hearings on portable audio recording devices.

"The Criminal Procedure Code provides that 'every person present in the courtroom may keep a transcript, take notes, use portable audio recording devices. Photo, video recording, radio or TV broadcasting of a court hearing, as well as audio recording using stationary equipment in the courtroom are allowed in case the court makes such a decision, which should take into account the opinions of the parties and if making such a recording will not be detrimental to the proceedings" (h 6, Article 27 of the CPC). That is, they could have banned taking photos, but not recording audio on the phone. This is a feature of a criminal trial, other procedural codes contain somewhat different regulations on court hearing publicity," the lawyer noted.

As IMI reported, on December 2, 2022, "Watchers" journalist Alina Kondratenko reported that the spokeswoman of the Solomyansky District Court of Kyiv, Alyona Petukhova, tore up her request for access to an open court session in front of her. Petukhova told IMI that she had torn up the printed request because it did not have an electronic signature and did not meet the legal requirements due to this. After the journalist wrote a new request by hand on a new piece of paper and put her signature on it, it was granted.

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