OSCE media freedom representative outraged by attacks against managers of Ukrainian National TV
CHISINAU, 19 March 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed her outrage about the attack by a group of members of the Ukrainian political party “Svoboda”, including some members of Verkhovna Rada, on the acting President of National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU), forcing him to resign.
“I am appalled by this outrageous action, which goes against all media freedom values and cannot be tolerated,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Oleksandr Turchinov, the acting President of Ukraine. “This is a particularly serious incident as some attackers not only represent the legislative branch of power, but also are members of the freedom of speech and information committee of the Parliament.”
On 18 March a group of individuals reportedly belonging to Ukrainian political party “Svoboda”, including some members of Verkhovna Rada, stormed the office of the acting President of the National Television Company of Ukraine, Aleksandr Panteleymonov, intimidated him and forced him to sign a resignation letter over allegations that his channel criticized “Svoboda” and aired anti-Ukrainian content. One of the attackers was identified as Igor Miroshnychenko, Deputy Head of the Parliament's Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information.
“While I welcome the immediate condemnation of this act by the acting Prime Minister Arsenii Yatsenyuk and Svoboda party leader Oleg Tyagnibok, I urge the government to strengthen journalists’ safety, especially during the current crisis in Ukraine,” Mijatović said.
“I am alarmed that this troubling development is growing, this is the second case in recent days where media managers are forced to resign.”
On 17 March a group of individuals stormed the office of state television in the Chernigov region and forced its director, Arkadiy Bilibayev, to resign.
“I call on the authorities to launch swift and transparent investigations and bring all those responsible to justice,” Mijatović said.
Mijatović also reiterated her call on the authorities to take steps to transform state television and radio into a true public service broadcaster, independent from political and business pressures and acting in line with the media freedom commitments established by law.
During her recent visit to Kyiv, Mijatović stressed the importance of ensuring the journalists’ safety and putting an end to impunity for attacks against media workers. She expressed the readiness of her Office to assist the authorities of Ukraine on this matter.
Mijatovic is in Moldova on an official visit.
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.