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Pershiy Kryvorizky says ban on filming shelling aftermath is the "government monopolizing information"

13.06.2024, 16:40

Following Russia's June 12 shelling strike on Kryvyi Rih, the representative of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Military Administration press office, Natalia Ohorodnya, told journalists in a group chat that "authorized bodies" were banning them from filming the aftermath of the strike.

Sofia Skyba, the executive director of the online media "Pershiy Kryvorizky", spoke about this in her comment to the regional representative of the Institute of Mass Information.

"Colleagues! At the moment, any filming at the Kryvyi Rih emergency site is PROHIBITED by authorized bodies! The reporters who have arrived at the site of the emergency and started filming by now, stop!!" said the group chat message.

Sofia Skyba and other representatives of the "Pershiy Kryvorizky" team considers such a ban as "the government monopolizing information."

"On Wednesday, when all the garbage Telegram channels have already posted all the videos, social media users have shared the address of the affected building online, after it was announced that a humanitarian assistance HQ would be opened, the OMA representatives started banning us from filming anything. That is, they didn't mean 'not to post anything for 3 hours'. They meant that filming civilians and buildings was banned. With no explanation," said Sofia Skyba.

She says she and her colleagues have asked for an explanation multiple times. "We were met with refusals and aggression. It looks like this is: a) the overall fatigue sinking in, which affected the public servants' press offices too; b) an unspoken sign of censorship; c) monopolization of information. I want to be wrong in all three cases," said Sofia Skyba.

She also noted that an hour and a half after the impact, the SES and President Volodymyr Zelensky released a video from the shelling site.

We note that reports of the explosion in Kryvyi Rih first appeared around 15:50 (this was reported by Suspilne Dnipro, who cited their correspondents – Ed.). The all clear signal came at 17:12. The post on President Volodymyr Zelensky's Telegram channel was made at 17:35, and the OMA representative asked journalists not to film anything at 18:22.

IMI called the Dnipropetrovsk OMA press office representative Natalia Ohorodnya for a comment regarding the communication with journalists in this situation, but she did not pick up the phone.

IMI is ready to hear Natalia Ohorodnya's perspective regarding the ban on reporters filming the aftermath of the shelling strike on Kryvyi Rih on June 12, 2024.

According to IMI lawyer Volodymyr Zelenchuk, the unexplained ban on filming can be considered an unlawful and unwarranted restriction of freedom of speech.

"Of course, restrictions on freedom of speech are allowed in wartime. However, they must be warranted by the need to prevent information leaks that could harm the defense forces, the state, and society. Disclosing information about the war crimes against civilians committed by Russia does not inherently harm these interests. Moreover, such information is of a socially valuable nature," Volodymyr Zelenchuk said.

He noted that such groundless and unjustified bans should not affect the work of journalists, provided that they wait the prescribed time before releasing their materials.

"And given that media workers ensure that no potentially harmful information is recorded or delete it after detecting it themselves or on the instructions of the law enforcement, which may check the recorded material," the lawyer explained.

According to Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the city's Defense Council, as of June 13, the emergency rescue work at the site of the missile strike has been completed. 9 dead and 32 injured persons are reported.

June 14 will be declared a day of mourning in Kryvyi Rih.

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