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Media Movement called on police to investigate activities of “Journalists against corruption” and refrain from persecuting activists for comments

25.01.2021, 11:24

The Media Movement emphasizes that the practice of selling press cards to persons who do not perform any journalistic activities and do not adhere to the ethical norms of the profession undermines trust in journalists and mass media. Such practice should be stopped.

On January 21, 2021, we learnt that the National Police had instituted criminal proceedings against Oksana Romaniuk, a member of the “Media Movement” and executive director of the Institute of Mass Information, on a claim filed by Serhiy Kot, the head of the “Journalists Against Corruption”. On December 31, 2020, Serhiy Kot filed the complaint for the comments of Mrs Romaniuk published by “Detektor Media” about the trade in press cards issued by the NGO “Journalists Against Corruption”. 

Serhiy Kot blamed the media expert for consiously untruthfull reporting about the crime (Article 383 of the Criminal Code). At the same time, the website of the NGO "Journalists Against Corruption" still has a message that proposed to issue press card to anyone for the payment of membership fees, and this person instead was to take part in public events of the organization and publish at least one article per month. The organization's website said that having a journalist's press card would be useful for a number of people includingly "lawyers", "entrepreneurs", "local deputies" and "auto enthusiasts who like travelling".

In early December 2020, Serhiy Kot filed complaints with the Commission on Journalistic Ethics and the Independent Media Council and wrote a letter to “Detektor Media” denying the allegations. On December 29, 2020, CJE came to the conclusion that the publications challenged by Kot had no violations of the Code of Ethics of Ukrainian Journalists, and the facts they spoke of were true. At the same time, the CJE found a gross violation of the Code of Ethics of a Ukrainian journalist in Serhiy Kot's actions, calling to stop immediately to grant journalist status to non-journalists and to stop the advertising campaign to attract such "journalists". However, in early 2021, the site "Journalists Against Corruption" began to reprint from pro-Russian resources pieces discrediting Oksana Romanyuk, in which she is called a "grant-eater" and resorting to personal insults, as well as negatively mentioning another media expert and head of the NGO "Detector Media" Natalia Ligacheva.

As Oksana Romanyuk said, the National Police did not respond to her previous complaint about the trade in press cards by the NGO “Journalists Against Corruption”, but instead they have opened criminal proceedings against her for comments in mass media, which creates the precedent for work of police. 

The Media Movement emphasizes that the practice of selling journalist press cards to persons who do not exercise any journalistic activities and do not adhere to the ethical norms of the profession undermines trust in journalists and mass media and should be stopped. Rights and protection are granted to journalists by law, because they have a huge responsibility to inform the public. Manipulation of such protection is not only a violation of ethical standards, but also a crime under the law. After all, forgery of documents also covers cases of entering false information into them. 

The media movement calls on the National Police to immediately investigate the actions of the NGO "Journalists Against Corruption" and to refrain from persecuting activists for comments in mass media.

It will be recalled that Media Movement "Media for Conscious Choice" was launched on February 5, 2019. The first signatories of the Media Movement memorandum were UA: Pershiy, Ukrayinske Radio, Hromadske Radio, IA Ukrinform, IA Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. Ukraine”, NV,“ Censor.Net ”, Channel 5,“ Ukrainsky Tyzhden”, Opinion, a number of regional media, Independent Media Council, NGOs “Detector Media”, The“Institute of Mass Information”,“ Internews Ukraine ”,“ Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law ”,“ Suspilnist” Foundation ”,“ National Media Association ”,“ Donetsk Institute of Information ”,“ Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy ”,“ Zmina Human Rights Center ”and other organizations, individual journalists - more than 70 participants in total.

You can join the Media Movement or support it by contacting the coordinator Vadym Misky: vadim.miskyi@gmail.com.

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