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Ukraine as partly free, as to Freedom House report "Freedom in the World 2019"

05.06.2019, 14:45
The international democracy watchdog estimated Ukraine as partly free country, as to its new report “Freedom in the World 2019”, made public today. Although Freedom House’s experts recognized Ukraine, as in previous reports, partly free, but they recorded deterioration of civil freedoms in 2018. Ukraine score was degraded from 3 to 2. This was due, in particular, to the growing activity of far right movements, attacks on journalists, and civic activists and members of ethnic minority groups, attempts to disrupt public discussion of certain issues and pressure onto sexual minorities. “Ukraine has enacted a number of positive reforms since the protest-driven ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. However, corruption remains endemic, and initiatives to combat it are only partially implemented. Attacks against journalists, civil society activists, and members of minority groups are frequent and often go unpunished. Russia occupies the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea, which it invaded in the aftermath of Yanukovych’s ouster, and its military supports armed separatists in the eastern Donbas area, where skirmishes continue to endanger civilians”, the report said. According to human rights activists, the Ukrainian authorities did not conduct effective investigations and prosecutions on these incidents. According to the report, attacks on journalists, public activists and members of minorities are frequent and usually unpunished. The authorities also failed to conduct an efficient investigations of high-profile murders, such as murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet. "The government has made little progress in meeting domestic and international demands to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during the last months of the Yanukovych administration in late 2013 and early 2014, which included the shooting of protesters. The authorities have also failed to mount effective investigations into high-profile killings such as the murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet with a car bomb in central Kyiv in 2016." “The constitution guarantees freedoms of speech and expression, and libel is not a criminal offense. The media landscape features considerable pluralism and open criticism of the government. However, business magnates with varying political interests own and influence many outlets, using them as tools to advance their agendas. Poroshenko owns the television network Fifth Channel and has rebuffed press freedom groups’ demands that he honor his earlier promise to sell it. Authorities in 2018 renewed existing measures that bar a number of Russian news outlets from Ukrainian distribution networks and prohibit their journalists from entering the country. The year also featured growing pressure to limit publications in languages other than Ukrainian. The Kyiv Post, an English-language newspaper, warned that it and other outlets could be forced to close under a proposed bill that would require media outlets to produce Ukrainian versions of all reports and other materials. In September, the regional council in Lviv approved a measure banning the public use of Russian-language “culture products,” including books and films. Journalists continue to face the threat of violence and intimidation. The independent Institute of Mass Information registered 201 media freedom violations from January to November 2018. Of these incidents, 28 involved beatings or attacks, and 27 involved threats and intimidation. Ukraine’s courts and law enforcement agents sometimes fail to protect the rights of journalists. In September, a court granted a request by the prosecutor general’s office to obtain information from a journalist’s phone, including text conversations and location data, for a 17-month period. Earlier, in March, journalists and media experts accused the police of interfering in the work of the media and violating journalists’ rights during aggressive removals of antigovernment protesters outside of the Rada. In February, journalists condemned police for performing an intrusive search of women journalists seeking to cover a court hearing at which Poroshenko was to appear via a video link. The media environment in separatist-occupied parts of Donbas is marked by severe violations of press freedom, including censorship by the de facto authorities”, the Freedom House said. IMI informed that in 2018, Freedom House qualified Ukraine as partly free, scoring its with 3 points.
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