Ukraine back to confrontation between press and authorities


Journalist NGO spoke on Thursday about the situation in Ukraine and their assessment was gloomy. The country is once again returning to confrontation mode between the media and authorities, with the main infringers of journalists’ rights most often the police and enforcement bodies. At the same time news programmes avoid mentioning protests and many other subjects.

Viktoria Syumar, Director of the Institute for Mass Information, stressed that those who should in theory be protecting journalists’ rights are most often those who violate them. “They prohibit journalists from filming corteges of officials, don’t let them into open zones, for example, reserves, cause obstructions where they are trying to cover high-profile court trials, as well as protests. There have been an extremely large number of beatings. We are forced to say that journalists need physical protection”.

Another feature of the present situation involves the very small number of cases where those guilty of obstructing journalists’ rights are punished. This also applies to prosecutions under Article 171 of the Criminal Code – obstructing a journalist carrying out his or her official duties. Ms Syumar says that the IMI is holding talks with the Prosecutor General’s Office over this. The latter says that they can’t do anything without a formal report from the victim of such obstruction.   

Data suggests that journalists are more loath now to report political or economic pressure. Victoria Syumar says that those journalists who openly spoke out about pressure and joined the movement Stop Censorship can now either work on Internet publications or on the single opposition channel TVi. 

The Chief Editor of the website MediaSapiens Diana Dutsyk noted that monitoring of television news had shown that the strongest trend in 2012 was for the opposition in most cases to be shown in the context of criminal investigations or the court trials of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yury Lutsenko and other former government officials.

She mentioned also that the number of subjects being muffled on television was on the increase.  She gave as examples of subjects avoided: protests, the topic of freedom of speech and violation of journalists’ rights; fall in the standard of living; price increases; drop in social standards, actions by the enforcement bodies against members of the public, the activities of the opposition.

From a report at IMI

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