Stop Censorship wants to identify the guard who used force against journalists
The civic movement Stop Censorship has begun a campaign entitled “Help us to find”. They are looking for the person who on 3 September during the address by President Yanukovych to the World Newspaper Congress ripped placards calling for freedom of speech from the hands of Ukrainian journalists and used force against them.
At the launch of their action, journalists handed out leaflets with a photo of the person they’re looking for and a request to help them find him. There were around 30 jounralists present with the event receiving coverage from 5 Kanal, TVi and the Ukrainian Service of Voice of America.
The journalists say that since more than a week has passed and there has been no movement on identifying the person, they are forced to get involved.
As reported, Stop Censorship also addressed a letter to the President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers over attempts by security guards to wrench placards from journalists staging an entirely peaceful protest. At the opening of the WAN-IFRA Congress, around 15 journalists held up signs protesting censorship and encroachments on freedom of speech.
Video footage clearly shows a guard trying to force a placard reading “Stop Censorship!” from Ms Gorchynska who managed to pass it to Olena Prytula, from whom the guard then wrenched it by force. Ms Prytula used her laptop to display the sign inside.
Later on in the afternoon the National Security Department claimed that it was private individuals who had obstructed the journalists, not the President’s guards.
The letter below is that sent to Mr Matthew.
Dear Mr. Mathew,
We, Ukrainian journalists, united into the movement Stop Censorship!, are writing to you with the request to find and punish offenders, who aggressively treated journalists during the opening of World Newspaper Congress in Kyiv on September, 3, 2012.
Officially accredited to the WAN-IFRA Congress journalists recorded usage of physical force against them, to prevent them from raising posters saying about freedom of speech. In particular, Olena Prytula, an editor-in-chief of the Intrnet publication Ukrainska Pravda (www.pravda.com.ua), established by Georgiy Gongadze, Kateryna Gorchynska, a Deputy Editor-in-chief of Kyiv Post (www.kyivpost.ua), and Oleksandr Argat, a journalist of 5 Kanal Channel.
There is also video with a confession of a fellow from the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) as to the fact that she removed personal belongings (papers) from Tetiana Veremchuk, a journalist of the Internet publication Telekrytyka (www.telekritika.ua). More over, the fellows of DCP blocked the entrance to the WAN-IFRA Congress and rudely behaved with the members of Stop Censorship! Movement: Svitlana Zalishchuk, Victoriya Siumar, Oksana Romaniuk, and Oksana Pryhodko; unknown stole Mustafa Nayem’s personal belongings. During the whole period of WAN-IFRA Congress journalists have been followed and recorded on hand cameras by the fellows of DCP and during peaceful protest, journalists were surrounded from all sides.
References to videos:
1. A fellow of DCP grabs a poster from Kateryna Gorchynska and pushes Olena Prytula
2. A fellow of DCP grabs a poster from Aleksandr Argat
3. They remove a poster from Tetiana Veremchuk
On the same day without taking into consideration all video evidence, The State Protection Department made a statement that unknown individuals prevented journalists’ protest during the World Newspaper Forum.
Taking into account all these facts, we are writing to WAN-IFRA with the request to protect freedom of speech and demand Ukrainian authorities to take actions to find and punish the offenders. We also ask you to take this issue under your personal control.
We are thankful to WAN-IFRA for support of freedom of speech in Ukraine, because one of the goals of having the World Congress in Ukraine was to express solidarity with the local independent press that every day suffers from such a big pressure.
Journalist movement Stop Censorship!
September, 4, 2012, Kyiv