Journalists across Ukraine are being suppressed, deported and banned from the country, according to the Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project.
Ukraine has imposed a number of restrictions on the media as a response to Russian propaganda in order to protect its national security.
Mapping Media Freedom correspondent Vitalii Atanasov said that “the deportation of journalists is not an effective and justified response to such challenges and threatens press freedom. It is necessary to develop another mechanism to maintain a truly professional and fair media that could compete with all sorts of propaganda and fake news.”
The conflict has led to a rise in anti-media sentiments across Ukraine with some prominent members of the Ukrainian government branding journalists as traitors. Public opinion has swayed over the course of the conflict and the press is often criticised for showing the problems of Ukrainian society.
“Another disturbing trend is that the authorities and their supporters are promoting the idea of the ‘fifth column’, hinting that critical journalism can be a threat inspired from outside. Unfortunately, journalists are an easy target,” Atanasov said
Journalists operating in Ukraine are being blamed for the spread of classified information and for undermining the Ukrainian army. “There have been several cases when journalists were accused of having published classified information, but in the end, the accusations were not confirmed,” Atanasov added.
With both the public and the politicians demonising the press, it has become increasingly dangerous for journalists to work and operate in the Ukraine. The most extreme example of the dangers the media face in Ukraine is the assassination of Pavel Sheremet in July 2016.
Atanasov said that this has led to some self-censorship in the Ukrainian press. “I can assume that some journalists resort to self-censorship in some cases, as they would like to avoid obstacles and problems for their work in the future.”