Election Day: 18 infringements of journalists’ rights
The Institute for Mass Information reports that on Election Day there were 16 reported cases where journalists were obstructed when carrying out their work. There was also one attack on a journalist and a case involving indirect pressure.
Most often journalists were not allowed into polling stations either during voting or the vote count, or else they were thrown out.
In Yarevyshche in the Volyn oblast the head of the Precinct Electoral Commission [PEC] from the Party of the Regions Ludmila Hrinchuk threw out journalist Volodymyr Voloshyn who was recording the spoiling of ballot papers.
In Dyula in the Transcarpathian oblast the Village Mayor Oleksandr Shopi took journalists ID away and pushed them away from PEC No. 210089.
Journalist from Halytsky Korespondent Markiana Prokhasya and several other journalists and observers were not admitted to the morning sessions of PEC No. 260430 in Kosmachi, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.
In Krasny Luch, Luhansk oblast, Oleh Yatsenko from the newspaper Ukraina Moloda was thrown out of PEC No. 440898 (No. 108 electoral district) as he “got in their way”. The members of the committee did not provide a copy of the decision to remove him.
There were also cases where journalists were prohibited from videoing electoral commissions’ work.
The Head of the District Electoral Commission [DEC] No. 156 Serhiy Loskutov in the Rivne oblast stopped Georgy Oliynyk from taking photographs and threw him out of the building.
Loskutov also obstructed the work of journalists from the local TV channel RTB, lunging at a video camera and trying to grab the lens.
In Brovary, Kyiv oblast near the building housing DEC for District No. 97 somebody smashed the video camera belonging to Andriy Kachora, journalist from the Internet publication You have the right to know. The journalist was filming a member of the DEC Oleksandr Hrytsai giving comments to the State-owned UTV-1 and saying that the situation in Brovary was even calmer than they’d expected. The police who were present did not react.
There were a number of DDoS attacks on Internet publications and the sites of NGOs monitoring the elections or reporting such monitoring.
There were also “troll attacks” on the mobile telephones of various journalists and media lawyers.
There were less calls than in 2004 to journalist help-lines which Roman Holovenko from IMI suggests may be because journalists are better prepared for work on Election Day and more aware of their rights.
“For the first time we noted that during incidents of obstruction or misunderstandings at polling stations, journalists mainly turned to the police and not to the CEC or DEC. A duty police officer helped journalists in negotiations with members of the PEC, but refused to record violation of their rights. That did not apply to the situation in Kyiv where police officers pretended that they didn’t see the conflict”.
Part of monthly monitoring by the Institute for Mass Information with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy