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21.12.2010

Stop Censorship and RWB condemn escalation of violation and pressure against journalists

   

The civic movement Stop Censorship has issued a statement, apparently with the support of Reporters without Borders, regarding a “sharp increase in violence and pressure against journalists.

“We are filled with deep concern over incidents involving our colleagues demonstrating the general atmosphere of intimidation and threats in which Ukrainian journalists are forced to work.

Recent events

15 June: Director of the TVi Channel, Mykola Kniazhytsky announced that he had been under surveillance, providing a video with proof;

30 July  Blogger and writer Oleh Shynkarenko was summoned to the SBU [Security Service] “regarding the posting on an Internet website of a threat against a Ukrainian State figure”

1 October   Yury Yurin, civic activists and publisher of the journal “Horozhanyn” was beaten up;

4 October   A BYuT party Deputy of the Zhytomyr District Council used force against the regional correspondent of the newspapers Den and Zamok Volodariv, Dmytro Sinchenko;

28 October  General Producer of the TV Channel ZIK and presenter of a journalist investigation programme, Dmytro Dobrodomov, reported threats against him and demands to stop the programme to the Lviv Regional Department of the SBU;

28 October   National Deputy from the Party of the Regions, Mykhailo Chechetov threatened to close down the talk show “Kyiv Forum” broadcast on the Kyiv State TV channel;

1 November  In Feodosiya while the transporting of people to polling stations was being videoed, members of the Party of the Regions fell on the correspondents of the Chornomorska TV Channel and forcibly removed the video cassette showing the infringement;

3 November  In Zhytomyr police officers used force against a Channel 5 special correspondent, Oksana Trokoz;

8 November  Viktor Kotenko, Zhytomyr journalist, reported that he had received threats;

11 November  Kramatorsk journalist Oleksy Ladyk was assaulted and his video recorder broken;

 23 November  during the protests against the new Tax Code, police obstructed journalists in their work, tried to detain a car with journalists from one of the central TV channels and did not allow journalists into the tent camp;

27 November  Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s guards obstructed journalists from Channel 5 in their professional duties on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square);

13 December  Special Force Berkut officers unwarrantedly detained journalist Mustafa Nayem and tried to search the Chief Editor of the journal Korepondent, Vitaly Sych.

Earlier there was also the beating up by police officers of TV channel Novy Kanal journalist, Serhiy Kutrakov, as well as journalist from the TV Channel STB Serhiy Andrushko by a Presidential guard.

None of those responsible for crimes against journalists have been punished and the public have not received the results of investigations and internal checks regarding these publicized cases.

Nor has there been any progress with the investigation into the disappearance of Kharkiv journalist and Chief Editor of Novy Styl, Vasyl Klymentyev.

We are also convinced that the Head of the Security Service, Valery Khoroshkovsky has not carried out the President’s instructions to investigate harassment of journalists and cases of pressure. Instead, during his last interview, he accused Ukrainian journalists of carrying out political commissions, including against him personally. We would note that the official who has all opportunities for criminal investigations ,made this statement without any names of those supposedly commissioning or carrying out the orders, this being inadmissible and politically motivated. This yet again demonstrates the lack of professionalism of Mr Khoroshkovsky and his disrespect for all Ukrainian journalists.

We are thus forced to state that journalists in Ukraine are subjected to physical and psychological harassment when carrying out their professional duties. In almost half of the above-mentioned cases, force was applied by representatives of the authorities. Such a situation jeopardizes freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful gatherings and other human rights which are exercised or protected with the help of freedom of speech.

We demand:

that law enforcement officers do not use force against journalists and other citizens and that they carry out checks solely where a person is suspected of committing an offence and in accordance with Ukraine’s laws;

a stop to obstructions of journalists carrying out their professional duties;

efficient, and not declarative, investigations by the Prosecutor’s Office of cases where journalists have been obstructed in their work, and intensified measures overseeing the observance of civil rights by the police;

an assessment overall from the authorities of demonstrations of lawlessness by enforcement bodies and safeguarding of normal conditions of work for journalists.

* * * *

Reporters without Borders expresses their support for the Stop Censorship statement and calls on the Ukrainian authorities to give all necessary attention to cases of violence against journalists.

The authorities must make it clear that all assailants and killers of journalists will be punished. Even one effective investigation into violation against journalists could change the situation.

Reporters without Borders would also like to remind the Ukrainian authorities of the need to treat journalists in accordance with legislation.

It hopes that the government will do all that is necessary to safeguard the work of journalists normal for a democratic country, especially taking into account the fact that Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Reporters without Borders will continue to follow the situation in Ukraine closely.

 


* * * *

Reporters without Borders expresses their support for the Stop Censorship statement and calls on the Ukrainian authorities to give all necessary attention to cases of violence against journalists.

The authorities must make it clear that all assailants and killers of journalists will be punished. Even one effective investigation into violation against journalists could change the situation.

Reporters without Borders would also like to remind the Ukrainian authorities of the need to treat journalists in accordance with legislation.

It hopes that the government will do all that is necessary to safeguard the work of journalists normal for a democratic country, especially taking into account the fact that Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Reporters without Borders will continue to follow the situation in Ukraine closely.

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