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October turned out worst month in 2020 for press freedom – IMI

04.11.2020, 12:22

In October, the IMI experts recorded 34 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Of these, 24 were facts of physical aggression against journalists. These are the figures of the monthly monitoring of the Institute of Mass Information  "Freedom of Speech Barometer".

In October, the largest number of violations was recorded compared to previous months (January - 19, February - 18, March - 25, April - 18, May - 11, June - 21, July - 13, August - 12, September - 15). The increase in the number of violations this month is due to the election campaign before the local elections on October 25.

The largest number of violations was recorded in the category of "obstruction of lawful journalistic activity" - 19 (compared to nine cases in September). 

Thus, the IMI experts recorded several cases related to violations of journalists' rights that occurred on election day. Members of election commissions banned journalists from filming at polling stations in Kherson, Kropyvnytskyi, and Bakhmut (Donetsk region). There was also a case of the use of physical force against a journalist in Dnipropetrovsk region by a candidate from the "Servant of the People".

In addition, the law enforcement officers interfered with the activity of journalists. In particular, in Kyiv Region, police attacked the journalist Taisiya Kutuzova and damaged her microphone. In Kyiv, a security officer tried to break the camera of the journalist Mariyan Kushnir for Radio Liberty in a court hearing Sheremet's case.

The IMI experts recorded a sharp increase in cyberattacks on websites in October - five cases. The last time IMI recorded DDoS attacks on sites was in February this year. Thus, in October, DDoS-attacks were suffered by the sites of RIA Melitopol, Politerno (Ternopil), Fourth Estate and Liga.net. In four cases, editorial offices linked hacker attacks to the publication of stories about local elections.

IMI also recorded a case of censorship, when the press service of the Verkhovna Rada Office, taking into account the decision of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech, terminated the accreditation of the Slidstvo.Info edition and 18 other editions. Accreditation of journalists at the Verkhovna Rada was terminated as not meeting the objective: "for a comprehensive, objective and balanced coverage by journalists, technical workers of the media of the activities of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine."

Violations were recorded in 13 regions. Kyiv is the leader in terms of the number of cases (12), followed by Zaporizhzhya and Lviv regions (three cases each), Odesa region, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ternopil region, Donetsk region, Mykolayiv region and Rivne region (two cases each).

10 men journalists and 10 women journalists faced prejudices to their professional rights.

Thus, since the beginning of the year, IMI recorded a total of 186 cases of violations of freedom of speech, of which 145 were physical aggression against journalists.

This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

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