Attacks on journalists, switching off channels and denial of access continue in Ukraine, warns OSCE media freedom representative
VIENNA, 30 May 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović warned of new acts of violence, detentions, switching-off the channels and refusal of access in Ukraine.
“Journalists’ safety continues to be the main problem in eastern Ukraine, where several journalists came under mortar fire, in Donetsk, Luhansk and Sloviansk. Those include the teams of the Russian VGTRK channel, Mir 24 TV, LifeNews TV and Belarusian BelSat TV. On 27 May unknown people torched the office of the Sobesednik Ismaila newspaper in Odesa region. On 21 May the Tvoya Gazeta newspaper team was attacked by armed men in Crimea while filming a public event,” said Mijatović.
“It is unacceptable that journalists and media workers are continuously harassed and detained,” said Mijatović. On 11 May film director Oleg Sentsov was arrested in Simferopol on suspicion of terrorism. She added that “his detention sends a chilling effect to all those in Crimea who want to express their views and opinions freely. Critical, provocative voices have to be heard, not silenced. I call on the responsible authorities to immediately release him.” On 19 May reporter for Russian TV channel Dozhd, Pyotr Ruzavin was detained in Simferopol and his camera damaged. On 26 May Belarusian freelancer Dmitri Galko was detained and interrogated for six hours in Donetsk region.
The Representative criticized the switching off of virtually all Ukrainian channels in the Luhansk region on 28 May, including Rada, 1+1, UT-1, Inter, STB, Fifth channel, 112 Ukraina, ICTV, and 24-Novini.
“Regretfully the denial of entry to journalists has continued even when the media representatives already received an official accreditation to cover the Ukrainian presidential elections,” said Mijatović. Just today, Alexander Kots a reporter for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda has been officially banned from Ukraine for 5 years. On May 29 Pyotr Parkhomenko, a correspondent for Russia’s Kommersant FM radio, was also denied entry to Ukraine. Between 20 and 24 May at least five TV crews and five journalists were not allowed to enter Ukraine.
Mijatović welcomed the release from custody or prison of several journalists and media workers, including Vyacheslav Bondarenko of Obzor.lg.ua, Maxim Osovskiy of Spilno.tv, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saychenko of LifeNews, Fyodor Zavayleykov of RT, photojournalist Milana Omelchuk, and Stepan Chirich of NTV channel.
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.