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Oct. 1st, 2020

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EN

Dear colleagues!

The Institute of Mass Information (http://eng.imi.org.ua/) is Kyiv-based non-governmental organization which has for an object to defend the journalists’ rights, to upgrade their professional skills, to consolidate press freedom in Ukraine.

The latest developments confirmed that some single incidents of attacks and pressure on the press freedom have turned into a persistent offensive. The journalists’ efforts to stop it are not always successful. Sometimes we do not have sufficiently resources inside Ukraine to find solution for one or another issue.

So we launch the English-language blog which is going to be continuously updated and from which you could be informed in detail and promptly of what is happening in mass media in Ukraine. We expect to arouse interest of our colleagues abroad, international press freedom organizations, other institutions, all who seek to find Ukraine freedom of expression safe and steadfast. Besides the news on violations of press freedom you will find here some other extensive reports and analyses of press freedom in Ukraine. We expect this blog is to become an interactive platform to debate these sensitive issues.
FR

Chers collègues!

L’Institut des mass media (http://fr.imi.org.ua/) est une organisation non-gouvernementale à Kiev qui s’est fixée pour objective de défendre les droits des journalistes, d’améliorer leur niveau professionnel, de renforcer la liberté de la presse en Ukraine.

Les tout derniers événements ont démontré que les incidents où l’on a vu les journalistes et les média faisant face à la pression ou subissant les agressions ont pris proportions d’une large offensive. Les efforts des journalistes de faire changer les choses de façon radicale ne réussissent pas toujours. Parfois, il ne suffit pas d’agir uniquement à l’intérieur du pays pour résoudre tel ou tel problème.

Or nous lançons un blog francophone qui va être réactualisé en continu et où vous puissiez trouver des informations rapidement et en détail sur ce qui se passe dans les média en Ukraine. Nous esprérons que ce blog suscite l’intérêt chez nos collègues à l’étranger, des organisations internationales qui défendent la liberté de la presse et autres institutions qui aspirent à voir en Ukraine un pays où la liberté d’expression est inattaquable. A part des actualités, vous y trouverez des dossiers et des papiers analytiques sur le sujet de la liberté de la presse. Nous espérons que ce blog devienne une platforme interactive pour discuter ce sujet sensible.

Jul. 29th, 2011

Conflict between the governor of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and 1+1 channel journalist (+video)

Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, the governor of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Paul is indignant over the interest of journalists from “1+1” TV Channel in cars and cell-phones of vicars and the fact that they shoot Lavra with hidden camera. He also says about legal action over “abasement of honour, dignity, professional reputation of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and hierarchy” in “1+1” news. An open Appeal on this matter was sent to General Manager of "1 +1" Channel Alexander Tkachenko.

According to the bishop, "the fact of biased and preconceived presentation of information on the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church" by the staff of "1 +1" channel made him address the letter .



Metropolitan Paul writes that on July 21th he invited the crew of "1 +1", namely the journalist Mykhailo Tkach, for an interview and a tour to the Lavra, "in order to show the true state of the sacred object and religious life, and refute charges to the monastery which were expressed by him on the air of “1+1" TV channel. The meeting was held on July 25.

“On arriving to the territory of Lavra, the crew shot footage with video camera and hidden camera without permission, paying no attention to remarks of the officials, dropping the camera down and continuing to record. By these actions, the film crew of "1 +1" TV channel has violated the rules of the monastery and my civil right for privacy. In the programs of your TV channel there have already been stories in which journalists ridiculed Lavra, the governor, brethren, people who are working here and who are in the pilgrimage, including the hierarchy, the elderly, "- it is said in the letter.

The bishop believes that such behavior is unacceptable for journalists, and what the film crew of "1 +1" TV channel was doing indicates their "lack of knowledge of professional-ethical norms of journalistic behavior and, consequently, their low professional level."

According to Metropolitan, Mykhailo Tkach behaved "improperly, familiar and contemptuous." Therefore, he asked Oleksandr Tkachenko to pay attention to how the journalist of "1 +1" Channel, while performing his professional duties, "leads a conversation on topics that, according to him, are interesting to audience: all sorts of gossip that is untrue, and "favorite" subjects of journalists about cars and telephones of hierarchy."

According to Mr Tkachenko, he examined the circumstances contained in the Metropolitan’s Appeal. "I consider the intervention of the Church in the editorial policy of media illegal, but respecting the feelings of believers, and recognizing that the plot can be seen as ambiguous, we do not put the conversation of the journalist with Metropolitan Paul on air. At the same time I consider the behavior of the journalist Michael Weaver professional and correct "- the head of the channel said.

This is not the first time that the Governor of Lavra has conflict with journalists. Earlier, he frightened journalists by the court of God. And also has called the journalist of "Ukrayinska Pravda" Serhiy Leshchenko insane because Mr Leschenko posted photos of "Mercedes' owned by the Head of the UOC-MP Vladimir’s in his blog.

Jul. 21st, 2011

The possibility of registration and self-regulation of Ukrainian online media was created

Now Ukrainian Internet media have the opportunity to register officially as media. Six associations, public media organizations united to provide them with opportunities to act on a self-regulation conditions.

The representatives of information initiatives on the issues of protection of freedom of speech announced this inforamation at a press conference on July 19. The initiative includes the Internet Association of Ukraine, Ukrainian Association of Press Publishers, Independent Association of Broadcasters, Academy of Ukrainian Press, Institute of Mass Information.

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Jul. 18th, 2011

Barometer of freedom of speech, June 2011

Barometer of freedom of speech, June 2011

The problem of obstruction of journalistic activities was one of the main problems of June. The trial of Yulia Tymoshenko aroused considerable media interest, but the judge did not provide normal working conditions in the courtroom, which was a serious problem. The current president, Viktor Yanukovych was also in the midst of media criticism this month. Presidential guards closed domestic and foreign journalists in the hall of president-hotel "Kyivskyi" after he left the hall. The District Administrative Court banned a rally of the "Stop Censorship" movement, which had been scheduled for 6 June 2011, near the President's official residence, Mezhyhirya.

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To Mr. President Saakashvili,

Mr. President Saakashvili,

Freedom of expression organisations are seriously concerned about the arrest of a group of photo-correspondents in Georgia.
Four photojournalists were arrested in Tbilisi on 7 July on allegations of "spying on behalf of foreign intelligence services or organisations". The reporters are to stand trial in September.

"Accusations of spying against journalists should not be made lightly," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "We are concerned that our colleagues' case has been classified top secret which limits their ability to properly answer charges brought against them."

According to the Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ), an IFJ affiliate, Georgian security forces  arrested in the early hours of 7 July Zurab Kurtsikidze, a photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency, Shakh Aivazov of the Associated Press, freelance Giorgi Abdaladze and presidential photographer Irakli Gedenidze together with his wife Natia Gedenidze, also a photographer. The police released later on the same day Shakh Aivazov and Natia Gedenidze.

Media reports say that the remaining photojournalists were remanded in custody on 9 July by a court in the capital, Tbilisi, pending their trial which is scheduled to begin on 1 September 2011. The reporters who are charged with "espionage, gathering information or transfer on behalf of foreign intelligence service or foreign organization to the detriment of interests of Georgia" were denied bail by the court.

The IAGJ condemned the arrests and called on Georgian President Michael Saakashvili to intervene in this case to secure release on bail. The union says the arrests may be related to the photographers' work, quoting Giorgi Abdaladze who reportedly said his arrest was linked to some photos he took on 26 May of police using violence against anti-government protesters.

The IFJ supports the IAGJ' call and says photographers are under stricter scrutiny in repressive regimes which are desperate to stop images likely to show the government in poor light from reaching the outside world.

"The Georgian government has made a great deal of his democratic rule in the region," said Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "This is a test case to prove its genuine commitment to the rule of law and tolerance of criticism. The photojournalists are entitled to the presumption of innocence and should be released to defend themselves as free men in a public trial."

Unfortunately, we have to state that the Georgian government used very tough measures without providing the public with sufficient evidence to ground the strict actions against the journalists.

These actions are contrary to your commitment on principles of democracy and transparency, and negatively influence your image as of the state leader, as well as the image of the state.

We believe that presently this case needs much more transparency, with giving all the necessary evidence confirming the accusations. We also call on the Georgian government to consider changing the preventive punishment, which was chosen for our colleagues.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will guarantee a just examination of the case and public trial, and, in such a way, will prove its commitment to principles of a jural state.

The following organisations support this statement:

Victoria Sjumar, executive director of the Institute of Mass Information, Ukraine
Roman Skrypin, head of the Independent Media Trade Union, Ukraine
Yuri Lukanov, head of the Kyiv Independent Media Trade Union, Ukraine
Iegor Sobolev, director of Svidomo journalist investigation bureau.
Igor Chaika, director of NGO Media projects studio “Guards of Democracy”, Ukraine,
Natalia Sokolenko, head of Mediafront trade union, Ukraine,
Natalya Lygachova, head of Telekritika NGO, Ukraine
Taras Shevchenko, head of the Institute of Media Law, Ukraine
Ivan Krasikov, head of the Independent Association of Journalists of Ukraine
Andrey Bastunets, deputy head of the Belarus Association of Journalists
Mushfig Alasgarli, head of the Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan
Zviad Pochkhua, president of the Independent Association of Journalists of Georgia
Volodymyr Prytula, head of the Freedom of Speech Monitoring Committee, Crimea, Ukraine
Lasha Tugushi, head of the Association of Press of Georgia
Beth Costa, general Secretary, International Federation of Journalists

Jul. 14th, 2011

The issue of party affiliation is confidential information

“The issue of party affiliation, in particular of mass-media representative, is confidential information” – Roman Golovenko IMI’s lawyer.

The heads of regional branches of the Party of Regions are demanded to send information about journalists with a detailed description of their political affiliation. “Ukrainska Pravda” website, which has received a letter signed by the head of the Communications Department of the Party of Regions Central Office Elena Bondarenko, reported on this fact.

"On behalf of the party leadership ... in order to prepare high-quality media-coverage of Parliamentary elections 2012, regional branch of the Party of Regions must provide the filled form of the region media-map to the central apparat of the Party of Regions by 11 July 2011. The form of media-map attached," – it is said in the directive.

The letter instruction says that information about the local media should include ratings, circulation, and contact details. Also, the regional leaders of the Party of Regions are asked to find out the party affiliation of the owner, manager and chief editor of the media.

The questionnaire, which PR branches should fill in for Olena Bondarenko includes the following questions: "Are there any journalists loyal to our ideology? Ideological orientation of journalists’ staff? Has the edition / tele-radio company had any conflicts with our party regional branch?"

 Such requirements on collecting information indicates the violation of Article 7 of the Law "On Protection of Personal Data" which "forbids processing of personal data on race or ethnicity, political, religious or philosophical beliefs, membership in political parties and trade unions, as well as data relating to health or sexual life”.

Commenting this situation to “Ukrainska Pravda” Olena Bondarenko explained the requirements in the directive sent as follows: "One document - a letter on letterhead - is really ours. Although, it surprises me that my signature is absent there. All the documents I sign myself. As for a list of data on media – it is a talented, technological fake. I recognize the hand of master contributing. Almost perfect. Except one detail, but I will not tell about it, in order not to provide the fake author with "roadmap" for future. In terms of media technologist the list is more than full and necessary. Something from this fake list we must seize to replenish our media-card "- Bondarenko said.

According to “Ukrainska Pravda” the local branches of the Party of Regions have not only confirmed the fact of receiving this letter from Bondarenko, but also the requirement to collect information about the party affiliation of local journalists and media owners."

IMI’s lawyer Roman Golovenko: “The issue of party affiliation, in particular of mass-media representative, is confidential information except cases when they made it public themselves or didn’t hide it. Therefore, in order to estimate these documents the way of information collection about the media should be considered: their collection from open sources is legitimate because the information was not confidential. The ideological orientation of certain journalists can be seen from their columns – this is open source. But if someone contacts the editors or their individual employees to provide such information, they have the right not to provide it. Of course, it is illegal to collect such information if it is still confidential, that is, when its owners take measures for its disclosure. That is why we should look at how the letter instructions, if it is not fake, are performed in practice. "

Jul. 13th, 2011

Ukrainian reporters’ movement “Stop Censorship” expresses concerns over arrests of Georgian colleagu

Ukrainian reporters’ movement “Stop Censorship” is deeply concerned over detentions of leading Georgian photographers who are accused of espionage. The movement unites Ukrainian reporters who are committed to freedom of speech and media.

We know them as respected professionals of the highest caliber. They have repeatedly risked their lives, and in particular during the Russia-Georgia war, to ensure the society stays informed on key developments.

Respecting a right of each country to defend its national interests, we are certain that such serious accusations which resulted in arrests of the photographers could not be done without clear and convincing evidences being presented to the society.

We live in the country where the authorities and the judicial system are abusing their powers more and more frequently, including in relation to media.

We urge the Georgian authorities to set a good example for neighboring countries in the region and stick to their chosen course of developing democracy. It is impossible to achieve without fair courts and free media.

Reporters’ movement “Stop Censorship”

Jun. 14th, 2011

Tonis tv-channel changed its Manager after news about “Mezhyhiria”

Oleksandr Butko was appointed Tonis Deputy CEO.

According to “Telekrytyka”, he works upon the channel news broadcast.

Edition source emphasize that the new Manager was appointed immediately after the story about journalists picketing the Presidential residence Mezhyhiria appeared in Tonis news.
The new Head of the team has not been officially presented yet.

As is well known, the formal owner of the Tonis channel – Volodymyr Kosterin, CEO - Galyna Bilodid.

Mr. Butko previously managed the information broadcasting of the state UT-1 channel.

The story of journalists coming to Mezhyhiria appeared only on Channel 5 and Tonis. Also, the video of the event came in the evening marathon on TVi channel, devoted to the Day of Journalism.

Jun. 9th, 2011

District Administrative Court banned the rally of “Stop Censorship”

District Administrative Court banned the rally of “Stop Censorship” movement planned for June 6th near the official residence of the President – Mezhyhirya.

According to “Ukrainska Pravda”, the court supported the claim of the Head of Novi Petrivci village council Rodion Starenkyi.

“The Court decreed – to uphold the claim and restrict the right for peaceful meetings near the gates of the Presidential residence…”, - the judge Hanna Panova announced the verdict.

The Judge argued her decision by the fact that “the principle of the advance notification was violated” when the application was submitted. Besides, according to the Judge “the court pays attention to guarantee right to rest”
“The real danger of public disturbance exists”, - Panova said.

Later on the Head of Novi Petrivci village council Rodion Starenkyi said in his interview that he supported the decision of the judge. "This is not a suitable place for the rally. This is a private sector, and people are going to work"- Mr. Starenkyi said.

"The court's decision is based on the fact that the application for rally conduction near Mezhyhirya was submitted with violation of reasonable term (from the moment of the application submittion to the date of the rally). The application was submitted at about noon on June 3rd, and the rally was planned for the morning of June 6th. The Head of Novi Petrivci village council, where the residence of the President is situated, argued his claim that the executive committee of the village council has too little time to organize activities for maintaining security and order during the rally. However, it is not justified either in the statement of claim or the court's decision, what kind of activities and why the executive committee was not able to maintain.

In terms of a small number of alleged participants (less than 30) and no need to close off traffic - there is no need to provide considerable activities for such a rally, all necessary measures could be provided by the executive committee of the village council for several hours of the working day June 3rd , which remained after receipt of the application for the rally.
Besides, the Administrative Court justified its decision by the protection of the private life of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, as the rally was to be held not in the working time.

But the President himself invited journalists to his residence a year ago (and has not fulfilled the promise yet). Neither the statement of claim nor the court's decision provide grounds that the President will be in Mezhyhirya at the time of the rally, which incidentally is not his official residence in accordance to his income statement.

“The trial started on Saturday only at 3 pm and lasted virtually till 8 pm, so it was impossible to submit an appeal (and also to consider it). The decision of the court of the first instance is executed immediately in such cases according to Art. 182 of the Administrative Code" - Roman Golovenko, lawyer of the IMI, comments the situation.

Jun. 3rd, 2011

Facebook shuts down account of opposition civil journalist

June 1st ukrainian media started receiving inquiries about the disappearance of Mykola Sukhomlyn’s Facebook account. Ukrainian Facebook users were already familiar with Mykola’s ubiquitous jokes about Ukrainian politicians, so they were disappointed when his profile went down. We hoped that these were technical glitches. But this turned out to be not the case. Here’s what Mykola says:

“On the 17th of May, 2011, I published a video response to the publication “Donetsk oblast head recommends people to pay their own money to fund public roads repair”, where he argued that the state could not possibly pay for the repair works due to funds shortage. The video, shot by another Ukrainian blogger, Oleksiy Matsuka, shows the Donetsk oblast governor Blisnyuk driving an S-class Mercedes with luxurious tuning, which cannot possibly cost less than $90.000.

The same day, the popular Ukrainian news site “Ukrainska pravda” published a report about this event that contained a link to my profile, which was later picked up by dozens of Ukrainian news resources. Next day I received an anonymous “private advice” to take down the video and “tame down my eagerness”. Soon the “advices” became less friendly. Finally a man called and, without introducing himself, informed me that I would have to be dealt with.

During the next week I received Facebook messages with various threats. Anonymous users of throwaway accounts threatened to block my profile in the social network to prevent “spreading defaming information about Ukrainian politicians”. On the first of July, 2011, my Facebook profile was taken down by Facebook.”

According to Mykola, Facebook did not bother to inform him about the termination of his account. Immediately after the termination Mykola contacted Facebook asking for reasons for the measure, but a response is yet to be received. He speculated that several complaints were sent from fake accounts against the legitimate account, and the Facebook staff followed them without looking into the matter.



Mykola Sukhomlyn’s Facebook profile (“Николай СУХОМЛИН”) was one of the most popular ones. For two years Mykola had been publishing his own political jokes (totaling several thousand), collected over a thousand of political caricatures, hundreds of videos making fun of Ukrainian politics. The profile became a center of Ukrainian political satire on Facebook, targeting all Ukrainian politicians regardless of their political agenda. Mykola had been receiving threats before, but they were emotional and non-recurring.

The shutdown of Mykola Sukhomlyn’s profile has already made headlines in Ukraine.

A Facebook event has been created called “Restore the account of Mykola Sukhomlyn!” where the latest news about the conflict are discussed.

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