Media Movement reports systematic pressure on independent journalists and investigators
Mediarukh, a Ukrainian media freedom movement comprising leading media outlets and watchdogs, demands President Zelenskyy to “resolutely condemn” a pressure campaign on independent journalists and ensure that incidents of intimidation are investigated as crimes against media professionals.
Anonymous Telegram channels that openly declare working for the government and constantly defend it, along with propaganda websites, have systematically targeted independent media and investigative journalists, staging provocations against them in real life. Unknown aggressors have tried to portray Ukrainian journalists as ‘enemies of the people,’ Russian agents, drug addicts, and discredit their professional work.
In recent days we have witnessed attacks on "Nashi Hroshi" journalist Yuriy Nikolov and on Bihus.Info, and before that – on "Detector Media", "Ukrainian Pravda", NV, "Censor", "Babel", "Liga.net", "Espreso". Aside from provocations and smear attempts, the targeting includes surveillance, phone wiretapping and violations of journalists' right to privacy – all for the purpose of putting independent media under pressure.
All these actions are crimes that require an urgent response from law enforcement agencies. And they all damage Ukraine’s future as a democratic state.
We call on Ukraine’s law enforcement to recognize the gravity of the situation and swiftly identify and prosecute those responsible for the harassment and attacks on journalists.
Defending freedom of speech and putting an end to provocations targeting journalists is in the government's interest, seeing as anonymous Telegram channels linked to the provocations see them as retaliation for criticism of the authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelensky.
We also urge international partners to speak out in defense of the persecuted journalists, because public scrutiny is what guarantees staunch adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law and effective anti-corruption efforts, which your states uphold and Ukraine seeks to implement.
We appeal to civil society: for over 30 years of modern Ukraine's independence, you and us have been fighting for democratic values specifically, in particular for freedom of speech. If Ukraine abandons these values, the society will lose understanding: are we fighting this terrible war for a state that is moving towards a European future? Independent media, the right to criticism as enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, are primary drivers of progress towards democracy. Together, we have to defend what we rallied at the Maidans for, what we resisted and are resisting Russian aggression for, as it seeks to drag us back to the authoritarian past.
Only a joint effort by the society and the state will help overcome the threats to our statehood and freedom. We will not let those who try to intimidate independent Ukrainian media undermine our unity. Because unity is the only thing that guarantees our victory.
For reference. The Media Movement is a community that has united journalists from leading Ukrainian media, investigative journalists and experts from independent media organizations. Media movement was launched on February 5, 2019. The Media Movement Memorandum was first signed by Suspilne, Ukrainian Radio, Hromadske Radio, Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, ZN.ua, NV, Censor.net, Ukrayinska Pravda, and many others leading Ukrainian media. The movement also includes leading Ukrainian media NGOs, such as the IMI, Detector Media, Independent Media Council, Internews Ukraine, National Media Association, Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law, Suspilnist Foundation, Donetsk Institute of Information, Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy, Zmina Center for Human Rights. Other organizations and journalsits joined later – over 70 members in total.
On November 16, 2021, top media outlets called on journalists to unite within the professional community "Media Movement" to resist political and commercial pressure on freedom of speech. The statement was initiated by 29 journalists and experts whose names are available here.
The Media Movement statement is open for signing. Send emails with the subject line "Statement signature" to: [email protected].
- The Media Movement
- Euromaidan Press
- Serhiy Sydorenko, "European Pravda" editor
- Natalia Lyhachova, "Detector Media" chief editor
- Hala Skliarevska, "Detector Media"
- Texty.org.ua team
- Oksana Romaniuk, the IMI director
- Lviv Media Forum
- NGO "Advocacy Center LIFE"
- Yaryna Yasynevych, Liberation Movement Research Center
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