Journalists’ safety remains biggest media freedom challenge in Ukraine, says OSCE representative
VIENNA, 20 August 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today denounced recent attacks on members of the media in different regions of Ukraine.
“Violence against journalists has a chilling effect on the whole society and cannot be tolerated. Much more needs to be done to end the circle of impunity,” Mijatović said. “I call on the Ukrainian authorities to swiftly and thoroughly investigate these attacks and to do their utmost to ensure journalists’ safety.”
According to reports, on 15 August, a group of unidentified individuals destroyed and forcibly removed tents hosting a Spilno TV video-streaming hub at Independence Square in Kyiv. Spilno TV crew members Maxim Prasolov and Alexey Isayev were attacked and sustained serious injuries. Yuriy Bibik, a journalist with the 112 Ukraina TV channel, was reportedly blocked by the attackers whilst trying to cover the incident. Although criminal proceedings based on hooliganism charges were launched, some reports indicate that law enforcement officers present failed to respond to the incident.
In a separate incident on 13 August in Poltava, Lyudmila Voloshina, a journalist with the Iskra Prostykh Lyudei newspaper, was allegedly assaulted by Poltava Mayor Oleksandr Mamai and his deputy, Vyacheslav Stetsenko, while covering a car accident involving Mamai. Voloshina sustained bruises and her camera was damaged.
“If police officers and high-ranking officials contribute to endangering journalists’ safety instead of protecting and assisting them, this constitutes an unacceptable and very disturbing practice,” Mijatović wrote in a letter on 19 August to the Ukrainian authorities.
The Representative also noted earlier reports about violations of journalists’ rights and attacks on media outlets, also communicated to the Ukrainian authorities in a letter on 13 August:
- On 10 August, a group of individuals violently obstructed a crew of the 1+1 TV channel on Independence Square in Kyiv;
- On 8 August, a group of individuals obstructed journalist Dmytro Shinkarchuk and photojournalist Stanislav Baranets from the UNN news agency at the International Convention Center Ukrainian House in Kyiv. The group demanded that the journalists erase their recordings and briefly seized their equipment;
- On 6 August, a group of individuals raided the editorial office of the Molod Cherkashchyny newspaper in Cherkasy, causing damage to property;
- On 5 August, Radmela Aliyeva, a journalist with Prestupnosti.net website, was attacked by a group of protesters during a rally in Odessa;
- On 3 August, Bogdan Osinsky, a journalist with the Vzglyad iz Odessy news website, was injured in clashes involving law enforcement officers in Odessa;
- On 25 July, a group of individuals attacked the office of the 112 Ukraina TV channel in Kyiv.