MEDIA FREEDOM
Ukraine: Press freedom violations October 2019
28 Nov 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

Online news outlet Bykvu reported pressure from Servant of the People politician

31 October 2019 – The editorial board of Bykvu online news outlet expressed concern at a statement from Servant of the People’s deputy chairman, Alexander Kornienko, who insinuated that parliamentary photojournalists could face lawsuits if they’re not “careful”, Zmina news outlet reported.

Servant of the People

In a statement, Bykvu’s editorial board said that they regard Kornienko’s statement that “parliamentary photojournalists should be more careful” or “it could provoke a response”, as well as his allusion to the Criminal Code and possible lawsuits against photojournalists, as a request for journalists to self-censor. This, they believe, was an attempt to put pressure on independent media.

Bykvu believed that Kornienko’s statement sought to intimidate them for having published screenshots of correspondences between Servant of the People parliamentarian, Bogdan Yaremenko, and a sex worker. The story, which had been published the day before Kornienko made his statement, spread widely in the Ukrainian media.

Link(s): https://bykvu.com/ru/bukvy/obrashhenie-redakcii-internet-izdanija-bukvy-k-prezidentu-ukrainy-i-rukovodstvu-frakcii-partii-sluga-naroda-o-nedopustimosti-davlenija-na-smi/

https://zmina.info/news/vydannya-yake-vykrylo-perepysku-slugy-narodu-z-seks-praczivnyczeyu-zayavylo-pro-tysk-z-boku-yaremenka/

https://lb.ua/news/2019/10/31/441063_yaremenko_isklyuchat_fraktsii_izza.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-launches-probe-into-ex-lawmaker-who-threatened-released-data-on-rfe-staff/30257921.html

Categories: Intimidation, Censorship

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

 

Investigative crew’s personal data leaked by former government official

31 October 2019 – Andriy Portnov, former MP and ex-Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of former President Viktor Yanukovych, published personal information about the driver who works for Schemes, RFE/RL reported.

Andriy Portnov published some of Schemes staff’s personal information on his Telegram channel

Portnov, who has recently risen to prominence and has a significant following on his Telegram channel, posted the personal data of Schemes’ driver, including his passport information, home address, and car number plates.

According to RFE/RL, Schemes had been conducting an investigation into the nature of Portnov’s connections with the new Ukrainian authorities. Schemes’ editorial board told Radio Liberty that it regards the publication of the personal data as an attempt to pressure and influence the Schemes team. According to reports, it said that it considers the investigation into Portnov’s to be in the public interest. The editorial board said that it does not intend to stop the investigation.

According to reports, Lyudmila Pankratova, a lawyer from the Regional Press Development Institute, said that the dissemination of the Schemes’ driver’s information was a threat and is in contravention of Article 6 of the Law on the Protection of Personal Data, which defines the instances in which such personal data may be disseminated.

Updates:

5 November 2019 – In the days after 31 October, Portnov continued to disclose, via his Telegram channel, the registration number plate details of 16 vehicles used by Schemes’ staff. According to RFE/RL, on 5 November he reportedly invited anyone who came across these vehicles to “give a stiff rebuff” to the drivers.

7 November 2019 — Police launched criminal proceedings related to the threats against Schemes’ staff, RFE/RL reported. According to the National Police, criminal proceedings against Portnov were opened under the articles relating to the obstruction of the legitimate professional activity of journalists and threats or violence against journalists.

According to RFE/RL, Portnov responded on his Telegram channel saying that he would file a “symmetrical” police report on RFE/RL for the same offenses. He reportedly says that, since he is an employee of 112 Ukraine television, he should enjoy the same level of journalistic protection as Schemes staff. Portnov’s complaint was reportedly filed with police.

On 5 November Portnov posted on his Telegram channel that he was a special correspondent and presenter of the PortnovNow program on 112 Ukraine TV channel. The ex-official wrote that his editorial assignment from the program was to “inform the audience about people who engage in illegal activities.” This was reportedly interpreted as a reference to Schemes’ journalists.

Link(s): https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-schemes-portnov-dani/30248189.html

https://imi.org.ua/news/portnov-oprylyudnyv-personalni-dani-vodiya-shem-cherez-te-shho-redaktsiya-gotuye-pro-nogo-i30273

https://t.me/PortnovUA/1316

https://www.npu.gov.ua/news/Informacziya/policziya-rozpochala-kriminalne-provadzhennya-za-faktom-pogroz-zhurnalistam-radio-svoboda/

https://www.npu.gov.ua/news/Informacziya/slidchi-naczpolicziji-rozpochali-kriminalne-provadzhennya-za-zayavoyu-advokata-andriya-portnova/

https://imi.org.ua/news/politsiya-vidkryla-spravu-za-zayavoyu-portnova-pro-pereshkodzhannya-zhurnalistamy-shem-i30361

https://t.me/PortnovUA/1339

Categories: DDoS/Hacking/Doxing, Online Defamation/Discredit/Harassment/Verbal Abuse, Intimidation

Source of violation: Known private individual(s)

 

Female journalist threatened when filming accident scene 

27 October 2019 – Olga Dvoynos, a correspondent for UA:Chernihiv TV channel, was threatened by an unknown person while she was filming a scene of a car accident in Chernihiv, Detector Media reported.

While Dvoynos was filming, an unknown man approached her, threatened to break her phone, and stopped her from filming, even after she had shown him her press identification.

According to the chief news editor of UA:Chernihiv, Andriy Titok, the car that crashed allegedly belonged to a company owned by the mayor of Chernihiv, Vladislav Atroshenko. UA:Chernihiv is working on identifying the man, and intends to file a complaint to the police on obstruction of the journalist’s professional activity.

Link(s): https://cn.suspilne.media/news/44423

https://stv.detector.media/reformuvannya/regional_movnyky/zhurnalisttsi_kanalu_ua_chernigiv_pogrozhuvali_rozbiti_telefon_pid_chas_zyomki_na_mistsi_dtp/

Categories: Intimidation

Source of violation: Other/Unknown

 

Online news outlet editor assaulted by local deputy 

23 October 2019 – Victor Goloborodko, online editor for Texts.Alexandriya, was assaulted by Hennady Lotsman, the Head of the Housing, Urban Planning and Architecture Department of Alexandria City Council, the Institute for Mass Information reported.

The journalist was filming a conflict near a landfill, between local residents and employees of a municipal utility that managed the landfill.

Goloborodko told IMI’s representative in Kirovograd Region that he had been called by local residents to report on the situation around the landfill. Employees of the municipal utility that managed the landfill company blocked the entry for residents (who were reportedly outraged by the presence of landfills in the vicinity of their homes). He said that he arrived at the venue around midnight and began filming the incident. Footage of Hennady Lotsman’s car was reportedly in the video. He said that the deputy tried to knock the camera out of his hands and pushed him.

Immediately after the incident, the journalist filed a complaint to the police, reporting an injury to the hand. He reportedly said that he intends to pursue the matter.

Link(s):https://imi.org.ua/news/v-oleksandriyi-deputat-napav-na-mistsevogo-zhurnalista-i30125

Categories:  Physical Assault/Injury, Attack to Property

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

 

Separatists sentenced Ukrainian journalist to 15 years in prison

22 October 2019 – Ukrainian journalist and blogger Stanyslav Aseev was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the so-called “Supreme Court” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Hromadske reported. He was also deprived of the right to engage in journalistic activities for 2.5 years.

According to online media outlets of Donetsk People’s Republic, Aseev conducted a visual reconnaissance of the locations of the units of the People’s Police of Donetsk People’s Republic, and transmitted the data to representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine. In the case file it is alleged that the blogger has recruited pro-Ukrainian users in social media to collect and transmit military and other information.

The so-called “court” found Aseev guilty of organising an extremist community, espionage and incitement to espionage, public calls for extremist activities, and public calls for actions aimed at violating territorial integrity. Aseev will serve time in a maximum-security jail.

Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev went missing in the Donbass region on 3 June 2017. That day he was reportedly expected to send material to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which showed life in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Aseev has been working under the pen name of Stanyslav Vasin since 2014, and reported from Donetsk for Radio Svoboda, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinska Pravda and Ukrainian Week.

Link(s): https://hromadske.ua/ru/posts/v-dnr-osudili-plennogo-zhurnalista-aseeva-do-15-let-tyurmy

http://dnr-live.ru/ukrainskiy-zhurnalist-aseev-prigovoren-v-dnr-k-15-godam-kolonii/

Categories: Arrest/Detention/Interrogation, Criminal Charges/Fines/Sentences

Source of violation: Other/Unknown

 

TV presenter received letter containing death threats

21 October 2019 – Mykhailo Beizerman, political talk show host at the First City TV channel in Odessa, received a letter containing death threats. Beizerman posted the letter on his Facebook page.

The letter said that the representatives of a patriotic organization were gathering information about the journalist and decided that he would be a “showcase victim.” A photograph depicting Beizerman as a shooting target was included in the letter. Beizerman linked the threats to his journalistic activities.

The name of the patriotic organization was not specified in the letter. The police launched an investigation into the threats.

Link(s): https://www.facebook.com/mic.beyzerman/posts/241702263470920

https://www.infoport.live/news/odessa-news/odesskij-zhurnalist-poluchil-neobychnoe-pismo-s-ugrozami/

Categories:  Intimidation

Source of violation: Other/Unknown

 

Court grants investigators access to journalists internal communication 

17 October 2017 – Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court granted the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) permission to temporarily access editorial communication of the journalists of Schemes, an investigative program of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and public broadcaster UA:Pershyi, RFE/RL reported. SBI investigators also were granted access to a range of other in-house editorial data – the work hours of journalists, cameramen and drivers, and data on their salaries. The information is to be provided within a month.

According to the court, if the editorial board does not provide the SBI with the above information, the court, at the request of the investigators of the SBI, “has the right to issue a search permit for the purpose of finding and seizing the items and documents.”

In January 2018, Schemes authors Mykhailo Tkach and Nataliya Sedletska did a story titled “Mr. Petro Incognito: President Poroshenko’s Secret Vacation”. They found proof that Ukraine’s ex-president went on a secret vacation to the Maldives that cost around $500,000, and suggested that he used a fake passport and avoided customs. A police investigation was launched on 6 August, which includes charges such as an alleged “unlawful transfer of persons” – in particular, Poroshenko – across Ukrainian state border “using knowingly forged documents.”

The list of data that the journalists are required to submit to the SBI, includes all the footage they took, information requests and responses during the preparation of the investigation, any documents confirming the presence of involved journalists and other staff during the filming.

Schemes editorial board published an official statement, saying that documents requested by the ruling was “excessive”, and expressed concern that providing them would compromise their sources. They noted that Schemes had provided all the documents that had previously been requested.

Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court decision cannot be appealed. Schemes are consulting lawyers to establish the best course of action.

Link(s): https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-schemes-sud-dbr-dostup/30232159.html

https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/schemes/30232185.html

https://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/court-in-kiev-granted-access-to-the-correspondence-of-journalists/5137310.html

Categories: Subpoena / Court Order/ Lawsuits

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

 

TV crew blocked by unidentified persons

15 October 2019 – Avers TV channel’s crew was blocked by unidentified persons near Volodymyr-Volyn poultry factory in the Volyn region, the Institute for Mass Information reported.

The journalists were reportedly filming a report about the poultry factory’s open-air warehouses (used to hold waste) and the pollution they produced. During filming, two cars of unknown men arrived at the scene and blocked the TV crew’s car.

Avers TV journalist Natalia Polishchuk reported that the unidentified men refused to identify themselves. Polishchuk said that the men prevented them from filming, saying that it was private property. She reportedly said that because their vehicle was blocked, they locked themselves into the car as a means of protection. She said that the men did not react to their signals to clear their path. From the car, they called the police who arrived within 40 minutes. The journalists filed a complaint to the police regarding the incident.

According to IMI, the police are investigating the case and deciding whether to open criminal proceedings under the article “impeding the legitimate professional activity of journalists.”

Link(s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jv0Ncfz5lc

https://imi.org.ua/news/zhurnalistiv-aversu-zablokuvaly-pid-chas-zjomok-vidstijnykiv-volodymyr-volynskoyi-ptahofabryky-i30029

Categories: Blocked Access

Source of violation: Unknown

 

National Council requested court to revoke TV channel’s license

2 October 2019 – The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting has requested that the District Administrative Court of Kyiv revoke the broadcasting license issued to the LLC Novyny 24 hours (which uses the NewsOne logo), the Institute for Mass Information reported. The court is currently deciding whether to institute proceedings in this administrative case.

On 5 September, the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting sued the NewsOne TV channel due to what they said was the systematic incitement of hostility.

NewsOne claimed that it considered National Council’s decision to sue them as part of a crackdown on freedom of speech in Ukraine and an attempt to oust all independent media from the Ukrainian media landscape.

In August, National Council member Serhiy Kostinsky said that the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting would ask the judges to revoke the license of NewsOne TV channel.

Link(s): https://imi.org.ua/news/natsrada-podala-pozov-do-sudu-z-prohannyam-anulyuvaty-litsenziyu-newsone-i29856

http://oask.gov.ua/node/4119?fbclid=IwAR3ckT3Qe51dd4wf0pT9sDgnUDqV-llkkIWtjJmXeQhRCGpLnjieKkL25Ao

https://112.international/ukraine-top-news/international-editorial-council-demands-ukrainian-authorities-to-prevent-newsone-tv-channel-license-cancellation-43012.html

Categories: Legal Measures

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

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