OSCE media freedom representative denounces continuing attacks, kidnappings of journalists, forced switching of TV channels in Ukraine conflict areas
VIENNA, 29 April 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today denounced new cases of kidnapping and attacks on journalists, the recent takeover of a regional television station in Donetsk and illegal switching of broadcasts.
“Impunity for assailants of journalists and broadcasters is escalating the tensions and contributing to the deterioration of the security situation. I am dismayed by the lack of response by the law enforcement authorities to these attacks. Rule of law must be re-introduced in Ukraine,” Mijatović said.
Unidentified uniformed and armed people seized the Donetsk Regional Television and Radio Company and a regional transmission centre and replaced some local broadcasts with Rossiya 24. Digital broadcasts of all Ukrainian channels were switched off along with analogue signals of UT1, ICTV, 1+1 and 5 Kanal and some were replaced with Russian broadcasts.
Yurii Lelyavskii, a freelance journalist with ZIK channel from Lviv and Sergei Shapovalov, a journalist with VolynPost news portal from Lutsk, were detained in Sloviansk and their current whereabouts are unknown. Ruslan Kukharchuk, a journalist with the Novomedia journalists’ association, was also detained by unidentified persons in Sloviansk and released after 13 hours.
Yesterday in Donetsk, Richard Gaisford and Simon Llewellyn from ITV (UK), and Yevgenii Shibalov, a journalist with the Zerkalo Nedeli newspaper, were attacked by protesters during a rally. Shibalov received head injuries and the ITV camera was damaged.
Reportedly new accreditation procedures have been introduced by the unofficial local leaders in Sloviansk. Journalists without credentials will not be allowed into administrative buildings or attend press briefings and might not be allowed to enter the town.
In Donetsk, the staff of 62.ua news portal was intimidated by a group of uniformed, armed people demanding that the journalists obtain their approval before publishing any reports.
Yesterday in Kyiv, protesters demanded that the Inter and ICTV channels stop broadcasting a Russian television series. During the protest at Inter, doors and windows of the offices were damaged and smoke grenades thrown inside. The channel continued to broadcast.