Ukraine stepped down to 102nd position, as to RSF’s Press Freedom Index
As of 2019, Ukraine stepped one position down, going to 102nd position, as to the annual World Press Freedom Index made public today by the Reporters sans frontiers (RSF). “The imminence of important elections in 2019 sharpened the polarization of Ukraine and Moldova, hurting the climate for journalism, encouraging manipulation, and highlighting the influence that oligarchs continue to exercise over the media. This tension is the main reason why these two countries fell in the Index”, the RSF report said. While doing investigative reporting, in Ukraine journalists were placed under surveillance or were forced to hand over information to the authorities in violation of the principle of the confidentiality of sources. Also, the war in Donbas region has its effect onto press freedom condition, as to RSF. Another phenomenon is frequent ban to foreign journalists to entry the country. The press freedom condition got worse in neighboring Russia (149th) which “has fallen one place in the Index, and unfortunately with the harassment of independent media growing low positions are in high demand this year. What with an avalanche of draconian laws, arbitrary arrests and searches, impunity and police violence, Vladimir Putin has begun his fourth term in the worst possible manner. Internet censorship in Russia is now widespread. Blocking critical news sites is the very least that the region’s authoritarian regimes do. As in many countries throughout the world, the Tajik, Kazakh, Azerbaijani and Ingush authorities no longer hesitate to temporarily disconnect mobile Internet, social networks or instant messaging services in order to rein in protests and reduce media coverage of them. The other significant rises are those of Armenia (up 19 to 61st place) and Kyrgyzstan (up 15 to 83rd place) – rises magnified by the fact that this is a very volatile area of the Index. Widely covered in the media and social networks, Armenia’s “velvet revolution” loosened the government’s grip on TV channels. Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev and his successor withdrew their requests for the imposition of astronomical damages on critical journalists, turning the page on elections that had impacted heavily on the media. However, in the absence of lasting reform, journalists remain exposed to the possibility that the pendulum could swing back”. “Turkey is also the world’s only country where a journalist has been the subject of a criminal prosecution in connection with their reporting on the Paradise Papers. Pelin Ünker was sentenced to 13 months in prison and received a heavy fine. It serves as just one of many examples of how investigative journalism, which the government labels as “destructive” or “anti-patriotic,” is persecuted. Corruption in particular has been off limits ever since a scandal almost brought down Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government in 2013”. “The 2019 RSF Index shows continued deterioration of press freedom in the United States, while its northern neighbor remains ranked close to the top of the Index. Though both nations have historically respected the press, journalists in these countries are being challenged by the very institutions on which they report”.
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