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Ukraine up with most dangerous countries for journalists because of Russian aggression

17.12.14

Espreso.TV journalist Yehor Vorobyov, who was interrogated and beaten by Kremlin-backed militants after being captured  by Russian soldiers near Ilovaisk.  In the video here Vorobyov is struck hard after he answers – truthfully – that he and two other journalists were captured by Russians in uniform. 

Oksana Romanyuk, Director of the Institute for Mass Information and former representative for Reporters without Borders in Ukraine has commented on the latest RWB report which finds Ukraine one of the most dangerous countries in 2014 for journalists. 

She notes that the report is based on events from Dec 1 2013 through to Nov 30, 2014, and therefore includes “all of the worst events in the media sphere – from the mass beating of journalists on Maidan on Dec 1 last year, through all the events from the EuroMaidan revolution in Kyiv and the regions, the situation in the Crimea to the events in the east of the country.”

The main factor causing such a catastrophic plunge in Ukraine’s rating was physical aggression with 6 journalists and one media assistant killed.  RWB reports 6 deaths making Ukraine the third deadliest country in 2014 (after Syria and Palestine).

In terms of abductions, Ukraine was unfortunately at the top of the list with 33 journalists (among the many hundreds taken hostage by Kremlin-backed militants) abducted in eastern Ukraine.  Ukraine also ‘leads’ on the number of arrests with both militants and government forces accused of detaining journalists and taking them away “in a heavy-handed manner”, releasing them without explanation a few hours later.   It also had the largest number of journalists (215) “threatened or attacked”, and explains this record number as “due firstly to police use of targeted violence against journalists during the Maidan Square protests in January and February, and then to the turmoil in the eastern region of Crimea, where about 50 journalists were attacked or manhandled.

Eastern Ukraine is among the five most dangerous areas in the world for journalists, according to the RWB report.

Romanyuk mentions also over 300 journalists beaten; the disconnection of Ukrainian media on militant-occupied territory; attacks by militants on the offices of local media; over 30 journalists having been held prisoner for over 48 hours with two still held hostage by militants from the so-called ‘Luhansk people’s republic’.

“One more nuance – in this rating Ukraine is a TERRITORY where this aggression took place, but it can’t be said that Ukraine bears responsibility for all these cases. Objectively, the majority of the violations are a direct result of Russian aggression and the actions of separatist formations”.

Halya Coynash

see also:
Seized by Russian soldiers near Ilovaisk, beaten by Kremlin-backed militants
Journalist Yehor Vorobyov released
Journalist Oleksandr Bilokobylsky released
Concern for civic activist and journalist seized by Luhansk militants
Journalist missing in Luhansk
Five journalists not on the list of Kremlin-backed militants’ hostages
Journalist covering siege of Ilovaisk taken prisoner
Abducted street artist released briefly, then imprisoned again
Journalist Dmytro Potekhin seized by militants
Kremlin-backed militants seize parents of a local journalist