Media freedom under siege in Crimea, Ukraine, says OSCE representative
VIENNA, 8 March 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the continuous closure of television channels and attacks on journalists in Crimea.
“Extreme censorship, shutting down media outlets and press hubs and attacks and intimidation of journalists must stop immediately,” Mijatović said. “In times of crisis people must have an unimpeded access to a plurality of sources; otherwise they can be subjected to the worst kind of propaganda.”
Over the past few days the terrestrial signals of Ukrainian television stations Inter, Briz, 1+1, 5 channel, 1st National, STB have been cut, including the signal of the independent Chernomorskaya TV, and replaced with Russian channels NTV, 1st channel, Rossiya 24, Rossiya RTR, TNT and Zvezda. The Internet connection of Crimean Tatar ATR channel is down.
A number of journalists have been threatened, assaulted, physically attacked and several members of the media have been severely injured while covering the events in Crimea. They include Argumenti nedeli-Krym (Stanislav Yurchenko), Associated Press Television News, BBC, CNN, Inter channel (Olena Mekhanik, Andrii Tsaplienko and two operators), Russkaya Planeta (Pavel Nikulin), STB (Oleksii Simakov, Oleksandr Albinskyi, Vyacheslav Skvorchevskyi, Igor Levenok), 5 channel (Anton Laktionov) and a number of freelancers, including Boryana Katsarova and Dimiter Kenarov. Journalists have also had their equipment confiscated by unidentified assailants.
“Those who introduce censorship of the media have no place in a democracy. I reiterate my call to those responsible for law and order in Crimea to stop this destruction of freedom of the media and do their utmost to ensure safety of journalists. The final responsibility lies with them,” Mijatović said.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.