Channel 5 demands that those who obstructed its journalists be punished
The Channel 5 team has issued an open letter over the incident with their filming crew on Saturday 27 November. The letter is to President Yanukovych, Prime Minister Azarov and the Speaker of Parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn.
It states that during the visit by the President and Prime Minister to the tent camp set up by people protesting against the newly passed Tax Code, Channel 5 journalist Azad Safarov and photographer Olena Sorokina tried to enter the tent where the Prime Minister was speaking with protesters. Members of the Department of State Security categorically prohibited them from entering, without providing any identification or giving any grounds for this ban. Moreover, as Azarov began leaving the tent, Azad Safarov and Olena Sorokina were roughly shoved away from the tent, and the guards tried to stop Olena filming, this leading to the video camera being damaged.
The Channel 5 team express their outrage over the actions of members of the Department of State Security which they deem unlawful and unwarranted.
“We must note that this is yet another flagrant violation of the principles of freedom of media staff and unlawful obstruction of journalists’ work, accompanied by the use of force. This case unfortunately adds to the regrettable chronicle of events over the last half year regarding freedom of speech in Ukraine. The incident with the Channel 5 filming team contradicts the numerous statements from members of the Ukrainian government claiming openness to the public and readiness to work with the media. We consider that such cases demonstrate a violation of fundamental democratic principles and disregard for basic human rights.” The letter cites articles of Ukrainian law and the European Convention on freedom of expression.
“In our opinion such behaviour by representatives of state structures have an extremely negative impact on Ukraine’s image as a democratic country and could significantly hamper our country’s progress and integration into the European community. In view of the above, we would ask you to instruct the relevant bodies to carry out an objective investigation into the incident and order the staff of the Department of State Security directly involved in the conflict to make a public apology to the Channel 5 filming crew.
The letter is signed by V. Mzhelsky, Editor in Chief of Channel 5.