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Zaporizhzhya police assured to take cases of denial of access to city council under control

17.05.2021, 16:17
Photo credit: Press service of the national police in Zaporizhzhya region
Photo credit: Press service of the national police in Zaporizhzhya region

Three criminal proceedings concerning the denial of access for several journalists in Zaporizhzhya to the sessions of the Zaporizhzhya City Council in January-February have been consolidated into a single case and are taken under a special control of the regional police leadership. This was announced by the representatives of IMI in the Zaporizhzhya region Natalya Vyhovska at a meeting with the leadership of the National Police in the Zaporizhzhya region acting head of the Investigation Department Andriy Kulinich, deputy head of the Investigation Department Oleksandr Hryhoriev and deputy head of the Investigation Department of the police in the Zaporizhzhya Region Dmytro Sheptytsky.

According to Dmytro Sheptytsky, five journalists have been recognized as aggrieved persons in that proceedings, and all involved in the incidents were questioned. Also, according to him, the incident of physical aggression against the editor of the website "Nenachasi" Kateryna Maiboroda by the deputy of the City Council from the faction "Volodymyr Buryak's party" Unity "Oleksandr Onyschenko was being investigated.

According to Oleksandr Hryhoriev, deputy head of the police investigation department, no one was notified of the suspicion for now. 

"Also, so far we can not talk about the timing of the investigation, because investigators and inquiry officers are independent individuals, and they can not be influenced," - said Oleksander Grigoryev. However, as policemen assured, all necessary procedural actions would be made within the limits of the current legislation.

In total, since the beginning of 2021, the police have opened eight criminal proceedings for obstruction of the professional activities of journalists under Art. 171 of the Criminal code of Ukraine in the Zaporizhzhya region. One of them was dropped, as no corpus delicti was established. As to proceedings not related to denial of access to the Zaporizhia City Council, the investigators are currently determining both the composition of the crime and the applicants' affiliation with the journalistic community, as law enforcement officials said.

According to the so-called Andriy Kulinich, head of the investigative department of the police in the Zaporizhzhya region, the reports about the progress of all cases of offenses committed against the journalists are heard monthly and are under the control of the investigative department of the National police.

In order to define such cases more accurately as cases of obstruction to journalistic activity, the law enforcement officers asked journalists to remember some basic points.

“It’s important for a journalist to be identified: that he wore a badge with his name and the name of his mass media or a vest, something that will accurately prove that he is a journalist. That is, that the person who commits the offense knows well that the person before him is a journalist. You should also have an editorial letter specifying the place, event, time, and the task. All this is an additional point in favor of journalists in such investigations. It is also important that journalists have unexpired editorial press cards, ”said Oleksandr Hryhoriev, Deputy Head of the Investigation Department.

In general, law enforcement officers emphasized the openness of the police and their willingness to cooperate with journalists and representatives of media NGOs. In case of violation of journalists' rights, the journalists have to dial 102 immediately and the police guarantees that all incidents of obstruction of journalistic activity will be considered.

As IMI reported, on April 23 in Zaporizhzhya, As IMI reported, on April 23 in Zaporizhzhya, the editor of the Nenachasi website, Kateryna Maiboroda, was not allowed to attend the session of municipal council.

We will remind, on February 10, the permanent panel on deputy activity issues, regulations, and prevention of corruption of the Zaporizhia city council suggested to develop the procedure of accreditation of mass media. But the draft decision did not appear on the website of the City Council before the next session on February 24. 

As IMI reported, on January 30, more than 20 journalists from Zaporizhzhya addressed a public statement to the governmental authority asking them to intervene and to stop systematic denial of access for the journalists at the Zaporizhia City Council session and meetings of standing deputy commissions.

The journalists said that since the spring of 2020 they have been denied to attend the sessions of the City Council and deputy commissions and so, were unable to fully cover the activities of the city authorities of Zaporizhzhya.

On January 20, the security guards of the Zaporizhzhya City Council did not allow journalists to attend meetings of standing deputy commissions. The guards justified the refusal with quarantine restrictions. 

On January 18, Bohdan Vasylenko, editor-in-chief of the Hvozdy portal, was not allowed to attend a meeting of the Zaporizhzhya City Council's standing commission on health care and social protection.

On December 21, 2020, the second extraordinary session of the Zaporizhzhya City Council was held with no journalists present. During the session, the mayor of Zaporizhia, Volodymyr Buryak, refused to submit for vote the issue of the journalists' presence at the session, because they are not representatives of local self-government bodies.

On December 1, 2020, the first session of the Zaporizhzhya City Council was also held without mass media and members of the public due to quarantine restrictions.

On November 4, 2020, two Zaporizhzhzhya journalists were  not allowed  to attend an extraordinary session of the City Council.

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