New political season brings journalists increased threats and intimidation
The Institute for Mass Information [IMI] reports an increase in the number of threats and attempts to intimidate journalists in September, as well as in the number of cybercrimes against media sources.
In its Freedom of Speech Barometer for September, IMI writes that there were 4 documented cases where journalists were threatened, against 1 in August. There were 4 cyber attacks, whereas only 2 were reported over the entire summer.
There were also numerous and varied fishing attacks on the emails of well-known journalists and civic activists.
There were 11 cases falling within the category of obstruction of journalists carrying out their work, as against 9 in both July and August.
Economic pressure rose with 3 cases reported against 1 in August and none in July. The increase in political pressure was less marked – 5 cases against four in August and 1 in July.
The opposite was seen with the number of assaults on journalists: in September there were 4 against 5 in August and 10 in July. There were, however, two cases where media offices came under attack while there were no such cases through the entire summer.
The most publicized events:
Pressure on the Internet site Ukrainska Pravda
As reported here, at the end of August and beginning of September newspapers were circulated in Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, Poltava and Kremenchuk with the same name and logo as the influential Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda. The fake issue was on oligarchs’ media assets. At the same time another site called Ukrainska Kryvda [Ukrainian Injustice”] was launched with design similar to that of Ukrainska Pravda.
A draft law which would seriously curtail access to public information (see Access Denied for more detail)
The bill was initially registered by three Party of the Regions MPs and one MP from the opposition Batkivshchyna party. The latter, however, withdrew his support for the bill. Journalists and civic activists have called for the bill to be withdrawn altogether.
IMI reports that since the beginning of this year, it is aware of 64 cases where journalists have been attacked or threatened; 100 where they have been obstructed in carrying out their work; 37 cases of censorship and 36 cases of political and economic pressure.
The full report is presently only available in Ukrainian here