MEDIA FREEDOM
Ukraine: Press freedom violations July 2019
06 Aug 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project tracks press freedom violations in five countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Learn more.

9 Incidents

Female journalist reports being followed

30 July 2019 — Oksana Sokolova, a ICTV TV channel presenter, reported being followed by unknown persons, the Institute of Mass Information reported.   

“Am I Being followed again? Recently, I noticed that every time I have a meeting at a cafe, a young man is seated at a nearby table and looks intently at the phone screen without ordering anything,” Sokolova was quoted as saying on the ICTV Facebook page. She said that she would not have paid attention to these situations if she hadn’t been trailed in the past. Sokolova was forced to take a personal guard due to phone threats in 2014. A criminal case was opened by the police and the individual making threats was identified. 

“I didn’t think I would have to contact the authorities again,” the TV presenter said about the latest incidents. She told ICTV that the individuals following her in recently have all been different but they behave in the same way.

Sokolova said she intends to file a complaint with the police. 

Link(s): https://www.facebook.com/Fakty.ICTV/photos/a.141306902606734/2860449097359154/?type=3&theater

https://imi.org.ua/news/televeducha-ictv-oksana-sokolova-zvernet-sia-do-pravookhorontsiv-cherez-stezhennia-za-neiu/

Categories: Intimidation

Source of violation: Unknown

Court blocks access to two dozen websites

23 July 2019 — Pechersk District Court of Kyiv blocked access to Enigma.ua, a blogging platform and nearly 20 other websites, according to Detector Media.

In a statement, Enigma.ua, the site was blocked because of a published article that explored the connections between law enforcement and organised crime groups in targeting human rights defenders in the country. The court made its decision after a motion by prosecutors who are investigating a criminal case which the article addressed.

The National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR) reported that Pechersk District Court of Kyiv decided to block such sites as http:// go338.top, https://trident-ua.info, https://enigma.ua, https:blogs.korrespondent.net, http://seychas.press, http://www.netadvocate.org, https://compromat.ws, https://compromat.ws, https://sled-net-ua, http://ua-24.com, http://moscow-post.press, https://novindoosh.com, http://www.stalker-world.net, http://rospres.press, https://informator.news, http://ustav.press, http://www.ukrpress.info, http://www.stalker-world.net. Internet service providers of Ukraine must comply with the decision to block.

“We have already appealed to the lawyers and through court we will overturn this ruling and demand penalties for those who choose to block sites through a criminal case that has nothing to do with the resources and their owners,” said in a statement of Enigma.ua. 

UPDATE: 2 August 2019 — An appeal was filed against the decision of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv to block 18 information sites, IMI reported.

The interests of Enigma.ua website owner Volodymyr Pasika are represented by media lawyer Olexandr Burmahin, who is also the Human Rights Platform executive director. Digital Security Lab lawyers also joined to prepare the legal position in the case.

Burmahin said blocking of websites was a very dangerous precedent for freedom of speech and the dissemination of information online.

Link(s): https://imi.org.ua/news/oskarzheno-blokuvannia-nyzky-saytiv-za-rishenniam-pechers-koho-sudu/

https://detector.media/infospace/article/169446/2019-07-31-sud-zablokuvav-dostup-do-platformi-dlya-blogeriv-enigmaua/

https://enigma.ua/articles/bezpretsedentniy-nastup-na-svobodu-slova-v-ukraini-zablokovano-desyatki-nezalezhnikh-saytiv

https://nkrzi.gov.ua/index.php?r=site/index&pg=99&id=1749&language=uk

Categories: Subpoena / Court Order/ Lawsuits, Legal Measures

Source of violation: Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party

Politician sues Novoe Vremya weekly magazine

30 July 2019 — Politician Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of the political party Opposition Platform – For Life, sued Novoe Vremya weekly magazine, NV.ua reported.

The case of “protection of honour, dignity and business reputation and refutation of false information” will be considered by the Podil district court of Kyiv. The editorial board said it doesn’t  have information which article prompted the politicians lawsuit.

Link(s): https://nv.ua/ukr/ukraine/events/medvedchuk-podav-do-sudu-na-nv-novini-ukrajini-50035068.html

Categories: Subpoena / Court Order/ Lawsuits

Source of violation: Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party

Press center attacked by far right activists, five people injured

30 July 2019 — About a dozen right-wing activists from Tradition and Order, a nationalist group,  assaulted participants of a press conference and press center staff at the news agency Ukrinform in Kyiv, Hromadske reported. 

The press conference was held by Serhiy Koshukov and Andriy Aksyonov, who are running for deputies in a single-member constituency number 50. At the beginning of the press conference, Koshukov said that about 500 votes had been stolen from him at the previous parliamentary election. After that, the press conference was interrupted by the attackers.

According to Interfax-Ukraine news agency, more than 10 people wearing t-shirts with “Tradition and Order” logos broke into the room. They smashed the glass in the room, broke the door, threw eggs at the press conference participants, poured water on those present at the press center, shouted “Down with the separatist Aksyonov.” 

The far-rightists accused Aksyonov of being a citizen of the Russian Federation. Aksenov, in turn, claimed that he never had a Russian passport.

The police arrived about 20 minutes after the beginning of the assault. But the officers didn’t take any action, only observed what was happening, Interfax-Ukraine reported. In the presence of the police, the right-wing activists threw eggs at Aksyonov and unscrewed microphones. After that they left the premises shouting “Put Aksenov behind bars” and “Shame”. A police officer tried to draw up a protocol against one of them, but in response the far-rightist insulted the police and left.

According to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, five news agency employees asked for medical help as a result of the attack. Ukrinform employee Roman Hrabrov was assaulted from behind and roughly grabbed by the shoulder. Three far-rightists simultaneously assaulted press center employee Pavlo Negrey, beating him on his legs, back, face, head, and choking him. The assault left him with a trauma of his left eye and numerous bruises all over his body. 

The names of other news agency staff affected by the attack were not disclosed.

According to preliminary estimates, material damage to Ukrinform press center exceeded 17,500 euro.

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine condemned the brutal attack on the staff of the leading news agency, and demanded severe punishment for the assaulters.

UPDATE: 1 August 2019 — The Kyiv police called the incident at Ukrinform “hooliganism”, IMI reported. On 30 July two of the invaders were taken into police custody to testify. The police also took the records from the CCTV cameras, the National Police reported.

UPDATE: 2 August 2019 — President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said it was necessary to investigate and severely punish the people who took part in the assault on Ukrinform.

Link(s)

https://imi.org.ua/news/zelens-kyy-pro-napad-na-ukrinform-treba-duzhe-zhorstko-karaty/

https://kyiv.npu.gov.ua/news/xuliganstvo/podiji-u-budivli-ukrinformu-slidchi-stolichnoji-policziji-kvalifikuvali-yak-xuliganstvo/

https://hromadske.ua/posts/u-kiyevi-na-pres-konferenciyu-shodo-50-go-okrugu-uvirvalisya-pravoradikali

https://imi.org.ua/news/u-kyievi-molodyky-uvirvalys-v-ukrinform-ta-zirvaly-preskonferentsiiu/

https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/2751615-policia-vidkrila-kriminalnu-spravu-za-faktom-napadu-na-ukrinform.html

https://interfax.com.ua/news/general/604581.html

http://nsju.org/index.php/article/8132

Categories: Physical Assault/Injury, Attack to Property

Source of violation: Unknown, 

The Revizor cameraman assaulted

18 July 2019 — A cameraman working for The Revizor, a Noviy TV channel program, was assaulted by an unidentified person at the marketplace in Koblevo Mykolaiv region, IMI reported.

According to the police, the conflict arose between market traders and the TV crew during the filming. A man, dissatisfied with the fact that he was filmed, hit the cameraman in the face. The journalist, whose name wasn’t reported, fell to the ground, but after a medical examination, he refused to be hospitalized. 

The police opened a criminal investigation under the articles “obstruction of journalists’ legal activities.”

The Revizor (auditor) – a teleproject on unexpected product quality checks. 

Link(s)

https://fakty.ua/312207-v-koblevo-izbili-operatora-populyarnogo-teleshou-revizor-foto-video

https://imi.org.ua/news/u-koblevomu-nevidomyy-vdaryv-v-oblychchia-operatora-revizora/

Categories: Physical Assault/Injury

Source of violation: Unknown

TV building attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade

13 July 2019 – The main office of TV Channel 112 was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in Kyiv around 3 am, the National Police reported. 

The police were called to the scene at 3:40 am and discovered that the office building’s exterior had been damaged by an explosion. They found a grenade launcher at the scene. No fatalities or injuries had been reported, but the police classified the incident as an act of terrorism. They did not report having any suspects at the time. 

According to TV Channel 112, the building’s security cameras recorded two unknown individuals at the scene of the attack. Kyiv police said they launched a search operation for the offenders.

A day before the attack Channel 112’s editorial board issued a statement calling on law enforcement agencies to protect them from “the arbitrariness of national radicals, who by intimidation and threats try to influence the editorial policy of the channel [and] force us to abandon world-wide broadcasting standards in favor of certain political interests”. The journalists reported receiving threats from right-wing organisations “recommending” that they stay at home on 13 July under threats of physical violence. A nationalist rally against the channel’s editorial policy was scheduled for 13 July. 

Immediately after the attack, Channel 112 CEO Yehor Benkendorf appealed to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to condemn the incident. “You must state clearly and decisively that no one should use force against media in Ukraine,” Benkendorf said.

Channel 112 received a warning earlier last week from prosecutors over its plans to broadcast a documentary titled Revealing Ukraine by US filmmaker Oliver Stone, which included an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They linked the attack to the scheduled broadcast, and cancelled it, citing the decision of their international editorial board. 

Channel 112 has come under pressure from nationalist groups since it was purchased last year by Taras Kozak, a close ally of controversial Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, often criticised for his pro-Russian views and ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of his daughter. Kozak also owns the NewsOne and ZIK TV channels.

Link(s): https://kyiv.npu.gov.ua/news/novini/u-kijevi-policzejski-rozshukuyut-zlovmisnika-yakij-vistriliv-u-fasad-budivli-telekanalu-iz-granatometa/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=cpWGq3aHgHs

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-police-investigating-rpg-attack-on-kyiv-office-of-tv-channel-112/30053446.html

https://112.ua/mnenie/zayavlenie-sotrudnikov-112-ukraina-v-svyazi-s-davleniem-nacional-radikalov-na-telekanal-499661.html

Categories: Attack to Property / Intimidation /

Source of violation: Unknown

Online news outlet journalist assaulted

8 July 2019 – Kirill Malyshev, Strana.ua news online outlet correspondent, was assaulted by nationalists during protest rally near News One TV channel building in Kyiv, Strana.ua reported. 

According to the journalist, the leader of C14 far-right group Yevhen Karas began to shout: “Here is a separatist! He is a Strana’s journalist.” 

“Immediately afterwards, the protesters tried to attack me. But other activists defended me. Focus magazine’s journalist also stood up for me. This allowed me to gain time, and [during the]  dialogue police brought me out of the crowd,” Malyshev said. Police officers then asked him to leave the rally “to avoid provocations.”

On 8 July nationalists protested against holding a teleconference with the Russian federal TV channel “Russia-24”. The rally was attended by right-wing organisations the National Guard, the National Corps and C14.

Link(s): https://strana.ua/news/210487-vo-vremja-aktsii-u-telekanala-newsone-natsionalisty-davili-na-zhurnalista-strany.html

Categories: Physical Assault/Injury, Blocked Access

Source of violation: Known private individual(s)

TV channel employees received threats

8 July 2019 — NewsOne TV channel’s journalists and their families received threats of physical violence after the announcement of a teleconference with the Russian state television channel Russia 24, NewsOne TV channel reported. 

“The channel planned to organise the first non-political teleconference between people from Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, we believe that such actions against the TV channel return Ukraine in times of intimidation and pressure on journalistic freedoms,” NewsOne website stated. According to the statement, the TV channel cancelled the teleconference due to pressure on the channel.

On 8 July, right-wing radicals held a protest rally near the channel’s offices in opposition to the teleconference. The rally was attended by right-wing organisations the National Guard, the National Corps and C14. The editorial board of the channel regarded the action as pressure on its editorial independence.

On 8 July, the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky criticised the holding of a teleconference, calling it “a PR campaign before the election.” The general prosecutor’s office of Ukraine filed a proceeding on an attempt to commit a state betrayal by providing information support to subversion against Ukraine. The head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Ivan Bakanov, stated that he considers it absolutely unacceptable to organise a teleconference with “the main propaganda channel of the aggressor country.”

Link(s): https://newsone.ua/news/iz-za-prjamykh-uhroz-fizicheskoj-raspravy-v-adres-kanala-zhurnalistov-i-ikh-semej-newsone-soobshchaet-ob-otmene-telemarafona-nado-pohovorit.html

https://imi.org.ua/news/newsone-roztsinyv-aktsiiu-protestu-pid-kanalom-iak-tysk/

https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/21/view/6248#.Pmvs5Tr3.dpbs

Categories: Intimidation, Blocked Access

Source of violation: Unknown, Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party

Online news outlet journalist assaulted

2 July 2019 — Vladislav Bovtruk, an online news outlet Strana.ua journalist, was assaulted by nationalist activist Olexiy Tsymbalyuk during protest rally on Independence Square in Kyiv, Strana.ua reported.

The protest meeting was organised by associates of the ex-president Poroshenko and nationalists against registering politicians who are considered “pro-Russian” to take part in parliamentary elections. 

According to Strana.ua, the journalist was hit in the face by one of the protesters. “The blow was so strong that I fell to the ground. After that, already lying down, they continued to kick me. I got up, and they poured water on me and started shouting ‘Have you enough? Do you want us to add?’. At that moment the police came and led me out of the crowd,” Bovtruk said. He filed a complaint with the police about the incident. 

Later, the outlet reported that the assaulter was called Tsymbalyuk, who participated in the staged murder hoax of journalist and blogger Arkady Babchenko in 2018.

Head of the National Union of Journalists Serhiy Tomilenko commented that any meetings and political actions should be open to journalists of all media. “This aggression becomes possible, because in Ukrainian society a stereotype has been gained over the years – a journalist is a defenseless victim, an attack on him goes unpunished. We hope that the police will have enough professionalism to conduct an investigation,” Tomilenko said.

On 3 July, the police opened a criminal case into the attack on the journalist.

Link(s): https://strana.ua/news/209396-v-nszhu-otreahirovali-na-izbienie-zhurnalista-strany-radikalami-na-majdane-poroshenko.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TgRDjw_IUI

Categories: Physical Assault/Injury, Blocked Access

Source of violation: Known private individual(s)

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