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The IMI records 12 freedom of speech violations in October

08.11.2023, 12:00
Illustration by kentoh from Getty Images
Illustration by kentoh from Getty Images

In September the IMI experts recorded 12 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine. Five of them were committed by Russia and targeted media and journalists.

This is evidenced by the monthly monitoring "Freedom of Speech Barometer" by the Institute of Mass Information.

The crimes against media committed by Russia include abducting and firing at journalists, destroying a media outlet's office, and cyber attacks.

At the same time, the IMI recorded seven freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include assault, death threats, restricting access to public information, cyber attacks and lawsuits against journalists.

In October it was reported that Ukainian journalist Victoria Roshchyna has gone missing while making a trip to the occupied territories. Her family and friends have not heard from her since August 3, when she was traveling to Russian-occupied territory. The SBU confirmed to the journalist's parents that Victoria has been taken prisoner by the Russians.

Furthermore, the occupiers are holding captive the administrators of the Telegram channels "RIA-Melitopol" and "Melitopol is Ukraine", accusing them of terrorism. The Russians only released a video of them in detention in their propaganda media and on Telegram on October 29, even though they had been arrested on August 20. The Russians released the names of the detainees: Oleksandr Malyshev, Heorhiy Levchenko, Maksym Rupchov, Yana Suvorova, Mark Kaliush, Kostiantyn Zinovkin. All of them are charged under several articles of the Russian criminal code: public calls for terrorist attacks, treason, espionage. They face 12 to 20 years in prison.

In Kharkiv, a filming crew for the Portuguese channel RTP came under fire in the October 6 shelling attack; the crew's car was severely damaged. According to RTP's Ukrainian producer Andriy Kovalenko, the crew had planned to film a report on the SES demining work and go to Hroza village, where 51 people were previously killed by Russian shelling. He noted that their team consists of three people: him and the Portuguese RTP reporter and cameraman. They were intact.

On the same day in Kharkiv, the Russians destroyed the ATN office. As editor Maryna Nikolayeva told IMI, the shock wave affected the newsroom and the advertising department the most. The team has been working remotely since the start of the full-scale invasion, realizin that there was a high probability that the house would come under fire, since it is downtown. However, their equipment, computers, and communications remained in the office.

The Odesa media outlet "Intent" reported a Russian DDoS attack on their website. The page was down for half an hour. As editor-in-chief Valeriy Bolhan told the IMI representative in Odesa oblast, it took this long for cyber security experts to repel the attack and protect the website managing features from being accessed. The editors believe this incident is related to their reporting.

The seven freedom of speech violations committed by Ukrainian citizens include assault, death threats, withholding public information, cyber attacks and lawsuits agains journalists.

Natalia Lyhachova, the "Detector Media" chief editor, received death threats. Political consultant Volodymyr Petrov threatened her with "punishment" which he will decide on himself. This was his response to the editor's critical remarks at the National Media Talk conference. In her speech, Lyhachova noted: "The fact that the NCTRB licensed 'Islandiya' is nonsense. They are the political consultants working for the President's Office, who have no place in any telethons, on YouTube, or anywhere. Vova Petrov is the one who was once bringing titushkas to the Maidan, who beat up Olya Snitsarchuk from Channel 5, he is the one who promoted a bunch of black technologies, and now he works for the President's Office. I am very surprised why no one is telling Bankova St. that this is just a disgrace."

In October, Ukrainian journalist Anastasia Morozova, who works for the Polish outlet, reported having been assaulted. According to her, she and her colleague from a French media outlet were attacked by a man mentioned in their investigation into the "Nordstream" explosions. The man shoved the journalists, insulted them and broke their phone.

The website of the Rivne media outlet "Horyn Info" suffered a DDoS attack which caused the resource to be down for the day. The deputy editor-in-chief, Inna Denysiuk, told the IMI that the attack on the website could have been an act of revenge by those who do not like "Horyn Info" paying attention to the activities of the Russian Church (UOC MP) in Ukraine. According to her, the media outlet has often been criticized by the UOC and accused of working for the OCU.

"Slidstvo.Info" was subject to legal pressure: Serhiy Semenyuk is sueing the journalists for investigating the cleaning companies which are affiliated with the Russian businessman and have been providing cleaning services to Ukrainian strategic objects for years on end. "Slidstvo.Info" found out that Semeniuk's lawyers attempted to bypass the electronic auto-selection of judges so that the case would be tried by a "convenient" judge.

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