Free Expression Information Center – Ukraine – Press Archive
NATIONAL POLICE WILL NOT INVESTIGATE MEDIA OBSTRUCTION IN CASE OF VIKTOR MEDVEDCHUK
According to Media Detector, the National Police in Kyiv has decided not to investigate the obstruction of journalists on May 13 before and during a session of the Pechersk District Court in Kyiv, which deliberated the case of Viktor Medvedchuk. The media outlet notes that on May 17, it asked how many allegations of obstruction were submitted by the media to the police after the trial and whether they opened proceedings on the basis of public appeals or as a result of monitoring social networks, media reports, etc. The National Police has yet to respond to these queries.
JOURNALISTS FACE THREATS AND DAMAGE TO PERSONAL PROPERTY
In Kyiv on June 14, an unknown person attacked Rustam Kolesnyk, editor-in-chief of Yurydychna Praktika. Kolesnyk’s car was blocked, and the attacker damaged the car with a knife and threatened Rustam Kolesnyk. This aggression was stopped by patrol policemen who were passing by. On June 18, Maksym Voloshin, producer of Public Broadcaster Ukraine discovered that his brakes had been vandalized. Voloshin has not reported any direct threats, but suspects that this is a targeted attack based on his occupation as a journalist.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES DISRUPT CASES
Six judges of the Constitutional Court are refusing to hear cases until the trial of Oleksandr Tupytsky, a judge who had previously been expelled from the court by President Zelensky, proceeds. His expulsion remains highly contested and comes at a time when an important anti-corruption bill is proceeding in the Ukrainian legislature. This action by the six judges appears to be in support of Tupytsky, who some hope will be permitted to return to the high court.
1+1 MEDIA HOST TARGET OF HARASSMENT AFTER VACCINATION SEGMENT
On June 9, Detector Media reported that Oleksandr Prepodobnyi, the host of the program “Groshi” (“Money”) on the 2 + 2 TV channel, was receiving threats of physical violence after presenting a segment titled “How Some Ukrainian Oligarchs Got Rich on the Deaths of Ukrainians and Counterfeit Fuel for Your Cars.” 1+1 Media reported that the host began receiving threatening and insulting messages immediately after the program aired on May 31, 2021. The production company also initiated criminal proceedings on the host’s behalf on June 7.
NEW OBSTRUCTIONS TO MOVEMENT IN DONETSK WAR ZONE
On the contested border of Russian-seized Ukrainian land in the Donetsk region, teenagers are being denied passage into or out of Donbas if they are unable to present a “valid” passport. This new form of documentation is not recognized by international nor Ukrainian authorities and has caused the separation of some families who live in and around this contentious area. This comes after the termination of the administration responsible for border crossings of minors. The illegal occupiers of the Donetsk region are also refusing to release four seriously ill Ukrainains after the Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas, Leonid Kravchuk, called for their immediate freedom.
JOURNALIST BEATEN WHILE REPORTING ON DEFORESTATION
Unified Legal Aid News correspondent Gennady Fimin was beaten by unknown individuals in the presence of police officers after the journalist claimed to have witnessed illegal deforestation. This assault happened as Fimin was attempting to file an official complaint of environmental damage. The police allegedly did not intervene, and the journalist lost consciousness and was hospitalized for two weeks.
FOURTH POWER MEDIA COMPANY WEBSITE SHUT DOWN
Media company “Fourth Power” at 4vlada.com suffered a website outage on June 3 following the publication of allegations of corruption against a local deputy. The allegations were based on the expenses of the deputy’s wedding the week before, which appeared to be far higher than the publicized income of the official. The Institution of Mass Information reports that this website also suffered numerous attacks in the second half of 2020.
INFORMATION REQUEST IGNORED BY UTILITY COMPANY
An information request by “Our Money. Lviv” was ignored by the municipal enterprise “Production and Restoration Plant of Ritual Services,” thus further hindering coverage of deforestation. The director of this enterprise claimed that the information requested is confidential. However, this is a utility company and a state institution, therefore, this information would likely fall in the public domain.
VACCINATION RESISTANCE PLAYS OUT IN TELEVISION SHOW DISPUTE
Diesel Studio has demanded that Toronto Television take down a segment ridiculing the anti-vaccination position of the Diesel Studio. The studio claimed that this segment violated intellectual property rights, while Toronto Television said that to remove this content would constitute censorship.
PRESIDENTIAL AIDE CRITICIZES MEDIA COVERAGE
Presidential Aide Serhiy Shefir objected to journalists filming him by saying that he was not a public figure. This objection comes in the same vein as recent statements by President Zelensky, which criticized the media for focusing on individuals in the president’s office rather than on government policies.
SECURITY GUARDS BLOCK MEDIA FROM ATTENDING CITY COUNCIL MEETING
On May 20, Nikolaev security guards initially blocked journalists from entering a City Council session. After a struggle, journalists were allowed to enter, but found that there was no room in the session for them to comfortably conduct their work. The mayor, Alexander Senkevich, said that there was no duty to welcome a media presence if no advance notice was given.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS BRING PROCEDURAL MEASURES AGAINST ACTIVIST
Law enforcement officers have begun “procedural measures” against Crimean Solidarity activist Zidane Adzhikelyamov. Those close to the activist claim that intimidating visits were also paid to Adzhikelyamov’s parents. Adzhikelyamov is known for hosting “Crimean Question” and for acting as a correspondent for “Crimean Solidarity.”
COLLEGE LECTURER DISMISSED FOR COMMENTS ON UKRAINIAN LANGUAGE
Oleksandr Makarenko, professor at the Maritime Vocational College of the Odessa National Maritime University, was fired after a comment on a Facebook post in which he called Ukrainian the language of “occupiers and fascists.” The college’s deputy director told reporters that such statements that “promote hatred of the state language” are unacceptable.
JOURNALISTS COMPLAIN OF A LACK OF COMMUNICATION FROM OFFICIALS REGARDING PUBLIC EVENTS
In Berdychiv, Times.zt journalists complained that the city council failed to make “socially important” events known to the public. Deputy Head of the Derychiv Community Artem Azizov responded by saying that he considered Times.zt journalists to be unprofessional and biased. Similarly, in Kremenchug, journalists from multiple publications wrote to deputies of the City Council requesting that official events be publicized.
JOURNALIST ATTACKED BY SECURITY GUARD
Odesa Journalist Serhiy Lyashenko was attacked by a security guard at a logistics company while documenting a nearby factory. Law enforcement officers arrived on the scene but the security guard had already left. It seems as though there will be no further investigation.
JOURNALISTS DENIED ACCESS TO MEDVEDCHUK HEARING
Yan Dobronosov, correspondent for the publication Bukva, was blocked from entering the Pechersk district court of Kyiv to report on the trial of Victor Medvedchuk by the politician’s bodyguards. This bodyguard physically assaulted the journalist, eventually placing an arm around his throat until Medvedchuck entered the court. Other journalists were also blocked, facing opposition from bodyguards and supporting MPs alike.
JOURNALISTS CONTINUE TO FACE THREATS, CONFRONTATION
In Lviv, a journalist (who remains unnamed) was involved in a confrontation where her equipment was damaged, thus preventing her from filming. This incident is currently under investigation.
Editor of Berezh.Info, Volodymyr Yakimiv, reports that he has received threats of physical violence from Ternopil Regional Council Deputy Oleh Valov. Valov claims that these threats were not genuine. The origin of this conflict may be a Facebook post made by Yakimiv which accused Valov’s wife of improper involvement in a charity. Yakimiv filed an official complaint with the police, and investigations are ongoing.
IMI REPORT ON FREE SPEECH IN UKRAINE
The Institute of Mass Media compiled a report on violations of free speech in Ukraine in April as the latest installment in the IMI Freedom of Speech Barometer, which primarily measures the ability of journalists to report on stories without obstruction. In April, 24 violations were recorded. This is an increase from 22 cases recorded in March. This report may be read alongside two other IMI publications: one detailing judicial obstructions to journalism in Ukraine over the last 5 months, and one tracking the use of COVID safety measures as justification for suppressing journalism.
CONFUSION REMAINS IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
Following a presidential decree intended to remove two judges, there is still great confusion around the composition of the Ukraine Constitutional Court. On April 30, Serhiy Holovatyi, who considers himself the new chair of this court, suspended payments to the apparently removed judges. One of these judges, Oleksandr Tupytskyi, immediately issued his own statement calling this action unlawful. This internal struggle impacts the wider debate on corruption that faces the Constitutional Court.
TV CHANNELS SANCTIONED
National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting sanctioned Nash TV channel after this service broadcast an interview with a representative for the Luhansk People’s Republic, which is classified as a terrorist organization, in December 2020. The sanctions accuse this representative of inciting hostility by questioning the inviolability of the state border of Ukraine.
On April 28, Sumy TV channel received a warning after broadcasting a NewsOne TV segment, in a move that violates source data licensing. NewsOne faces sanctions from President Zelensky due to the owner, Taras Kozak, having close ties with the Russian government. The TV channel is accused of disseminating pro-Russian propaganda. Sumy TV now risks accusations of inciting national hatred.
ON MEDIA LAW
The draft law “On Media” is set to be finalized by mid-May. This law will update protections for journalists, and has been the source of much debate since parliament began to review it last year. Nikita Poturaev, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, hopes that this bill could be put to vote in June.
COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE JOURNALISM
Watchers.Media reports that journalists face unjustified restrictions, especially in accessing court hearings, because of COVID-19. Olga Khudetska leads this project, and asserts that 90% of previously open court hearings have since become closed to journalists and that every court in Kyiv has created new requirements for admission. These obstructions stem from changes to Article 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and means that journalists lack certainty in knowing when they may be allowed to enter a court hearing. IMI appealed this issue to the High Council of Justice, among other bodies, and was met with the explanation that the ongoing pandemic justifies continuing restrictions. This comes after the IMI compiled two reports: one on COVID-19 safety measures as justification for obstructions to journalism, and one on other roadblocks to reporting over the last 5 months.
DISRUPTIONS OF JOURNALISM
In Kyiv, an unknown person disrupted filming by a crew from InterTV, which prevented a segment from being completed. In Vinnytsia, a 2+2 TV journalist was attacked by a state auditor-inspector after asking about corruption in the tax system. This resulted in damaged equipment and minor physical injuries. While reporting on an illegal woodworking business, film crews for Avers and 1+1 TV were attacked. In Rivne, a lawyer attacked the editor of Rivne Online and took her phone after the journalist attempted to film a controversial court hearing.
The editor of the historical project “History for Adults” claimed that someone attempted to hack her Facebook account on April 22, following the initial publication of the project.
Journalists were not allowed to attend a meeting of the Kulykivka village council when council members claimed that the meeting was “closed.” Journalists reported this obstruction to the police. Similarly, the editor of the Nenachasi website was blocked from entering the premises of the Zaporizhia city executive committee to report on a council session on April 23.
UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES MEMBER DETAINED, SENTENCED
Member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was sentenced on charges of illegally entering Russian territory after crossing into unlawfully occupied Crimea. Preliminary information gathered by Ukrainian law enforcement suggests that the serviceman may have been abducted while on duty near the administrative border. Human rights lawyers are protesting this “unacceptable persecution.” It is unclear if this charge will stand.
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS PUBLISHES UPDATED WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX
On April 20, Reporters Without Borders has published an updated World Press Freedom Index, and Ukraine’s ranking has dropped from 96th to 97th since last year. The IMI alone counted around 170 cases of physical aggression against journalists in a year where members of the media were targeted by governments and non-state actors alike. Russian pressure on Ukrainian media has increased in the past year. This report also considers the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic as an exacerbating factor in press safety.
CYBER ATTACKS AGAINST JOURNALISTS CONTINUE
Journalists around Ukraine have reported various cyber attacks over the past two weeks. Head of the Journalism Center at the Kyiv School of Economics Andriy Yanitsky reported that his Facebook account was temporarily suspended on April 13, allegedly orchestrated by those unhappy with his recent reporting on Kyiv politics. These individuals may have either used bots or have otherwise abused the “report” function of Facebook to unjustly suspend the Facebook account. He asked for the increased use of alternative socialhttps://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-polytics/3226091-vidkrivati-kuluari-radi-dla-zurnalistiv-zarano-razumkov.html media until Facebook can properly protect its vulnerable users.
Editor-in-chief of UATV and Dom TV Oleksiy Matsuka claims to have been targeted online and threatened with violence since his appointment to this position on February 23. Matsuka points to his use of Russian language in broadcasting, his affiliation with certain occupied regions, and his identity as a displaced person as possible reasons for this harassment.
The Russian Federation apparently mounted a cyber attack on former journalist and editor of social networks at Crimea.Realities, Olena Dub. Dub spoke out about this spam attack on Facebook, and offered advice on how best to counter these maneuvers. The Digital Security Lab also pitched in on the matter, suggesting that the best method for navigating this type of harassment is to stay calm and wait for the attacker to run out of steam. This particular attack follows reports that almost 60 journalists covering Crimea have come under pressure from the Russian secret services.
COVID RESTRICTIONS ON JOURNALISM CONTINUE
Quarantine restrictions have continued to act as barriers for the full and free practice of journalism in the past few weeks. Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov claims that because of the ongoing pandemic, it is still too early to allow journalists back into the second floor parliament. Instead, journalists have been moved to a different floor and are required to carry a higher level of accreditation.
On April 15 and 16, in the Poltava region, Vadym Kirpichenko, editor of the newspaper “Fresh Orange,” was initially blocked from attending an executive meeting of the Pyriatyn City Council along with other members of the press. Kirpichenko alleges that this refusal was due to quarantine restrictions. It appears that after some discussion, journalists were once again allowed to enter. On another occasion, a film crew was not allowed to document religious services because of similar restrictions.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF VOLYNPOST MEDIA VICTIM OF ARSON
On April 14, the editor-in-chief of the newly created VolynPost media outlet was targeted in an arson attack when her car was set on fire. Kateryna Dulapchiy is cooperating with local authorities to identify the perpetrator, and she attests that this attack was in response to her professional activities. Investigations are ongoing.
RUSSIA CONTINUES DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST UKRAINE IN ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED REGIONS
The Russian Federation, according to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak, is attempting to spread messages claiming that Ukraine is preparing to launch an attack on Donbas. This campaign is intended to discredit Ukraine in both the eyes of the international community and in the eyes of residents in the contested regions. Khomchak explains that Ukrainian military action in these regions is only in response to Russian aggression. It should also be noted that some consider the term “Donbas” to be a strategic phrasing by Russian-aligned media to frame the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as distinct from the rest of Ukraine.
Zelensky appoints chief of Disinformation Countering Center
The Center for Countering Disinformation, a new project aimed at stifling the flow of misleading or outright false information, began operating March 19. On April 2, President Zelensky appointed Polina Lysenko, a veteran of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, as the head of the center. He also signaled that he intended this organization to learn from NATO countries with experience countering disinformation. On April 6, the Center will be reviewed by experts and foreign diplomats to determine its potential efficacy. This project has been in the works since last summer, and was introduced in concrete form during the All-Ukrainian Forum “Ukraine 30”.
IMI REPORT ON NEWS MEDIA RELIABILITY
IMI has compiled a report on the reliability and transparency of popular news media sites. This analyzed which outlets most closely upheld “professional standards” in the first quarter of 2021. One barometer was the distinction between facts and opinions – 11% of analyzed news violated this standard. The most reliable news sites were concluded to be “Public”, “Mirror of the Week”, “Ukrainian Truth”, “Letters” and “Ukrinform“. In this same period, IMI experts recorded 50 instances of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Of these, 36 concerned physical aggression against journalists.
MEMBER OF KYIV CITY COUNCIL CLAIMS ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
Viktor Kononenko, deputy of the Kyiv City Council, accused law enforcement of illegally surveilling him for the past 5 days. This claim was announced by the People’s Deputy from the European Solidarity faction, ex-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Parubiy. Kononenko is a veteran who was prominent in 2015-17 for heading the SBU in anti-terrorist operations. In one confrontation with those following him, Kononenko demanded identification and was shown law enforcement IDs. This confrontation was witnessed by journalists and other police officers.
JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING VARIOUS EVENTS UNDER THE GUISE OF QUARANTINE RESTRICTIONS
Watchers.Media journalist Alina Kondratenko was not allowed to attend a session of the Darnytsia District Court in Kyiv on March 30, apparently because of quarantine restrictions. This case concerned the abduction and murder of an activist in the Euromaidan Self-Defense of Cherkasy region, journalist Vasyl Serhiyenko. This event follows similar exchanges on March 26 and March 23, where Kondratenko along with some of her colleagues were blocked from attending other meetings and trials. Notably, journalists from certain media centers were allowed to attend some of these.
In Poltava, the correspondent of the Central TV channel Alina Borovik was blocked from attending an April 1 round table with business representatives in the Poltava City Council. She alleges that she was barred first by security, then by a spokeswoman who said that she could not attend the meeting due to quarantine restrictions.
These events coincide with the continued escalation of quarantine restrictions as COVID-19 remains increasingly widespread across the country. Although some reporting shows a readiness of Ukrainians to handle these restrictions, many protests have sprung up.
KYIV COURT BLOCKS ACCESS TO 12 WEBSITES
The Pechersk District Court of Kyiv ruled to seize the IP rights of 12 websites on February 18. On March 24, mobile provider Lifesell, along with internet providers Triolan and Information Technologies, blocked these websites throughout Ukraine. A former head of state-run Spetstechnoexport brought these websites under fire, and many suspect this was a retaliatory move for unfavorable coverage. The editor-in-chief for one of the blocked publications notes that while these pro-Ukrainian news sites have been blocked, certain pro-Russian outlets that have faced similar legal sanctions continue to operate. Previous reporting reveals that earlier in February, the Holosiivskyi District Court of Kyiv temporarily blocked access to 426 websites in connection to criminal fraud proceedings.
PRO-RUSSIAN NGO LEADERSHIP CHARGED WITH TREASON FOLLOWING CRIMEAN "REFERENDUM"
Leaders of the NGO Ukrainain Choice – People’s Right, who have close ties with Opposition MP Viktor Medvedchuk of the For Life party, have been charged with high treason and trespassing against territorial integrity after their suspected participation in the conduct of an illegal “referendum” in the temporarily occupied region of Crimea. Two of the three individuals charged also were involved with illegal armed groups in the region, which claimed to “ensure safety” at fraudulent polling stations in Sevastopol. It appears that this poll was to expand support of changing the borders of Ukrainian territory. Following the charges, the illegal administration of the occupied region awarded these individuals with medals recognizing their ‘patriotism.’
DEOCCUPATION AND REINTEGRATION OF CRIMEA
On March 24, President Zelensky signed a decree into force concerning the deoccupation and reintegration of Crimea. This decree outlines various measures aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and is designed to signal to the larger international community that Ukraine intends to reclaim its territory following Russia’s 2014 forced annexation. Included goals cover issues pertaining to the protection of human rights in the occupied region. The decree emphasizes the importance of “inclusive public dialogue” in a way that provides for accessible and transparent news coverage of local events, and alludes to the eventual entry of Ukraine into the European Union. Last summer, Ukrianian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba called on any nation that opposes Russia’s violation of international law to support Ukraine’s efforts to reclaim the Crimean peninsula. Ukraine will hold a summit in the coming months to host the leaders of partner countries to discuss Crimea’s status.
YESIPENKO UPDATE: NO COURT APPEARANCE
Journalist Vladislav Yesypenko, who was recently arrested on illegal firearms charges, was expected to appear in the contested tribunal Supreme Court of Crimea on March 23 to request consultation with his lawyers, which has repeatedly been denied. Neither Yesypenko nor the lawyers hired by his family were reported to have attended this “hearing.” The Crimean Human Rights Group reports that this failure indicated illegal methods of interrogation, including a possibility of torture. This claim also stems from a recent interview broadcast on Kremlin-controlled channel Crimea24, which shows the detained journalist being questioned. Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Services assert that Yesypenko, a local journalist, gathered information for Ukraine’s special services and committed acts of espionage. Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Services denies this charge.
UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST DETAINED IN CRIMEA, ACCUSED OF ESPIONAGE
Ukrainian Journalist Vladislav Yesypenko has been arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea on a charge of illegal possession of firearms and has been accused of spying for Ukraine. Yesypenko holds dual citizenship of both Russia and Ukraine, and is a frequent contributor to a regional news outlet in Crimea. Kyiv has labeled this arrest as an act of propaganda. Russia’s Federal Security Service alleges that the journalist was in possession of something that appeared to be an explosive device, and that he also confessed to collecting information for the Ukrainian Security Service. Yesypenko’s lawyer reports that he has been unable to meet with his client since his initial arrest on 10 March 2021, and some human rights groups suspect illegal interrogation methods have been used. Yesipenko’s wife says that she fears for his life. The journalist faces a pretrial detention of two months, and may face up to twenty years in prison if convicted of espionage. It has been 7 years since Russia forcibly annexed this region, and the persecution of local journalists has been a recurring issue.
UKRAINIAN PHOTOGRAPHER ASSAULTED, CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
On 14 March 2021, photographer Yevhen Nikiforov and his brother, Vadim, were documenting housing in the Odessa region when they were attacked by two men. These men began to harass them and attempted to enter their vehicle. Yevhen was able to escape the confrontation but was abruptly detained by local authorities, who alleged that the photographer was responsible for the death of one of the harassers due to disregard for traffic laws. These allegations make no mention of the harassment that initiated the conflict, nor are they supported by forensic evidence. The proposed penalty for this offense is a 60-day detention.
NATIONAL BANK DIRECTOR ALLEGES ATTEMPTED CENSORSHIP
Kateryna Rozhkova, Deputy Governor of the state-owned National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), claimed that the NBU Communications Department had attempted to censor her interview with newspaper Novoe Vremya (NV). NBU Communications Director Halyna Kalachova denied the allegation. In this interview, journalist Petro Shevchenko discussed changes in NBU management, Ukraine-IMF relations and the possibility of NBU independence. The editorial board of NV published the entirety of the conversation on 9 March 2021. Kalachova denied the allegation that she directed the NV to commit this censorship. However, she implied that Rozhkova had attempted to harm the reputation of the NBU. Rozhkova has been acting governor of NBU since July 2020, when the Ukrainian parliament fired Yakiv Smoliy after he complained of political pressure on the bank.
COVID RESTRICTIONS INCREASE AS CASE NUMBERS RISE
Vaccine hesitancy is reaching new heights in Ukraine, despite rising case numbers. A poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found that 60% of the population does not intend to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This resistance is thought to be due to widespread misinformation, promulgated by prominent politicians as well as quickly circulating social media posts. A recent UNDP report labeled this phenomenon as an “infodemic,” explicitly assigning blame for rising COVID infections in Ukraine to misinformation. Many Ukrainians believe that the vaccine, rather than the virus itself, is what causes illness. The AP reports that vaccine hesitancy has long been an issue in this country, with origins long before the arrival of COVID-19.
IMI FINDS JOURNALISTS SUBJECTED TO PHYSICAL ATTACKS AND BODILY HARM
The monthly total for journalists who experienced bodily harm in February 2021 is five. That same month, IMI experts also noted 16 violations of freedom of speech and 12 acts of physical aggression against journalists.
Journalists were subjected to beatings that inflicted bites, head trauma, a broken finger, scratches, bruises, and leg trauma.
These injuries occurred at journalists’ place of work, during inspections, during reportings, and during attempts to record violations. Two cases are categorized as “restriction of access to information” and “damage to journalists property”. There was also one incident of “cybercrime” and a few attempts to use “legal pressure” against journalists.
Film crew from “1+1” and ICTV TV channels are blocked from documenting the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Court of Appeals by Judge
Citing quarantine restrictions, Judge Oleksiy Ivanchenko prevented two film crews, “1+1” and “ICTV”, from attending the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Court of Appeals on March 2, 2021. The meeting that was arranged for journalists was abruptly stopped without a clear explanation.
Both film crews were at the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Court of Appeals to document the appeal in the case of Valentyn Zemtsov, currently the youngest person sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine for the double homicide of his neighbors and the wounding of a pregnant woman. The crimes were committed in 2018, and in 2020 Zemtsov’s defense team filed an appeal to reduce imprisonment to 15 years. The Supreme Court returned the Zemtsov case to the Court of Appeals on March 2, 2021 where the lead witness recanted her testimony stating that Zemtsov was actually attempting to save her and the unborn child from her husband.
The film crews were documenting the witness recanting and the radical changing of witness testimony when they were abruptly barred. It is speculated that the defense team for Zemtsov, the victim, and the lawyer did not have journalists in attendance.
Deputies for the Izyum City Council accused of blocking Radio Izyum journalists
Radio Izyum journalists accused deputies of the Izyum City Council of blocking journalistic activities on March 2, 2021. In a video, Denys Shteyman, a deputy from the “Opposition Platform For Life” is seen taking a megaphone and approaching journalists while shouting. After a minute of being shouted at through a megaphone a few inches away from her face, the director of “Radio Izyum”, Olga Govtva, attempted to remove the megaphone from Shteyman. Govtva’s phone was knocked out of her hands by Shteyman who proceeded to threaten and insult Govtva. Shteyman denies these allegations.
Radio Izyum reported another conflict with a deputy, Yuriy Kozlov, from the party “Block of Svitlychna Together”. After agreeing to an interview, Kozlov stated that information given should be “impartial and cannot be one-sided”. Kozlov also demanded that Radio Izyum release “financial and economic activities of the media” and that Radio Izyum was corrupt with “illegal budget financing”. Radio Izyum responded with a statement that deputies are preventing them from doing their job and that the radio station does not function through direct funding or maintenance but through “agreements of information and advertising services”.
UKRAINIAN MEDICAL FACILITIES THROW AWAY UNUSED COVID-19 VACCINES
After doctors failed to show up for their own vaccination appointments, Ukrainian medical facilities were forced to throw away unused COVID-19 vaccines. While Ukraine just received its first batch of doses and began vaccinations last week, statistics show 47% of Ukrainians are against receiving the vaccine. The country recorded a 50% increase in new COVID-19 infections at the end of February. On March 2, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shared a photo as he received his vaccine shot in an effort to reassure skeptics.
UKRANIAN AUTHORITIES BLOCK 426 SITES, INCLUDING SITES OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS
426 wesbites, including 20minut.ua, have been blocked by Ukrainian authorities. Investigating Judge of the Holosiivskyi District Court of Kyiv Kateryna Plakhotniuk issued the decision, which was sent to the National Commission for State Regulation of Communications and Information. According to Oleksandr Chovgan, President of the RIA media corporation, it seems that the blocking of these sites by authorities is intended to put pressure on independent journalism.
Film crew attacked by an official in Zhytomyr
The attack on the film crew for the social project STB “One For All”, during an investigative journalism story on child abuse allegations, occurred on 2/22/2021 but was announced three days later. The head of the Vilsky AH (Amalgamated ‘Hromada’ Territorial Community), Mr. Petro Biliy, perpetrated the attack by throwing the film crew’s camera, then threatening physical altercation by raising his hand to the cameraman, who was attempting to defuse the escalating situation.
The police were summoned to intervene, and criminal proceedings were delivered to Mr. Biliy for impeding the journalists’ professional activities. The film crew and equipment were not harmed during the altercation.
JOURNALISTS IN ZAPORIZHIA FINALLY ALLOWED TO ATTEND CITY COUNCIL SESSION BUT BLOCKED FROM MOVING
After being blocked from attending city council sessions for months, Zaporizhzhya journalists were permitted to attend a regular session of the city council. However, they were only allowed on the balcony and barred from moving around the building. IMI lawyer Ali Safarov noted that these restrictions on movement are an obstacle to the legitimate professional activities of journalists.
Ukraine accuses unnamed Russian internet networks of cyber attacks
On Monday, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council accused Russian internet networks of massive and orchestrated cyber attacks that targeted websites belonging to the Defense Council, Ukraine’s Security Services, and others state institutions. The Defense Council did not release information about who it believed organized the attacks and Russia has denied involvement.
POLICE DETAIN 13 PROTESTERS COMMEMORATING ANNIVERSARY OF THE KILLING OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER STANISLAV MARKELOV
On January 19, the anniversary of the killing of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, 13 Ukrainian activists were detained by police during their peaceful protest. According to Human Rights Watch, after the activists gathered in Kontraktova Square in Kyiv, police told them there was “not going to be a protest today” and footage shows police dragging people, hitting them, and verbally abusing them. The protesters were charged with violating Ukraine’s Covid-19 quarantine restrictions. While their court hearings are pending, many face fines of up 17,000 hryvnas.
Threat to freedom of speech: the deputy to the Kryvyi Rih City Council proposes amendment to close meetings from journalists
Citing the possibility of military sabotage, the deputy to the Kryvyi Rih City Council from the EU, Mr. Yuriy Yarovy, proposes changes that would prevent journalists from attending the meetings of permanent commissions. Journalists in Kryvyi Rih see this as a threat to freedom of speech. This comes on the heels of a February 10, 2021 proposal to develop a procedure for granting accreditation to mass media journalists. Future draft-making decisions and voting sessions will no longer be transparent if meetings are allowed to be held behind closed doors.
Trial in Kyiv over a journalist’s banned book, The Case of Vasyl Stus, is underway
On March 19, 2021, Journalist Vakhtang Kipiani and Vivat Publishing House can resume their trial proceedings at the Kyiv Court of Appeals in the case of their banned book, The Case of Vasyl Stus. The book focuses its lens on political figure Mr. Viktor Medvedchuk, the KGB and Communist Party censorship.
On October 19, 2020, the Darnytskyi District Court banned the distribution of The Case of Vasyl Stus without the permission of protagonist, Mr. Medvedchuk. Mr. Medvedchuk, the chairman of the Opposition Platform for Life political council, filed a lawsuit on August 29, 2019 to prevent the publication of the book, citing protection of honor, dignity and business reputation.
Founder of DTP.Kiev.ua victim of car arson
After repeated threats, the founder of DTP.Kiev.ua, Mr. Vladislav Antonov, was the victim of an arson attack on his car. Mr. Antonov claims that the arson attack was connected to his professional work and that he knows who the perpetrators are. Due to the nature of the crime, the identity of the perpetrators will remain secret while the investigation is pending. One perpetrator was seriously injured, while the other remains at large. DTP.Kiev.ua extensively reports on road accidents and thefts in the Kiev area, and has reported on the second arson attack on a journalist’s car in Kiev, which occurred on February 7, 2021.
Journalist is pursued in his editorial office, dragged outside, and beaten in front of a crowd of witnesses
In two brazen events in Pyriatyn, Vadym Kirpychenko, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Fresh Orange”, was assaulted. In the first instance, the assailant had booked an appointment with Kirpychenko at a Cafe. The second time, the same assailant, along with two others, breached the newsroom where Kirpychenko worked, began assaulting him, pushed him outside, and continued punching him in front of witnesses before the assailants fled the scene in a car. These escalating events come on the heels of an unknown person publishing Kipychenko’s personal data on leaflets, a case of obstruction in 2018, and an incident where two grenades were left in his yard in 2017.
Film Crew attacked in Odessa
The Severny Market in Odessa, Ukraine, adds to the growing number of locations where journalists have been greeted with violent attacks. A film crew from Channel 7 for project “Normal” was attacked in the open by people selling cigarettes. One author of the project, Yevgeny Lysy, bore the brunt of the attack. Luckily, their cameras and footage survived the ordeal.
Repeated theft of eyewitness’s intellectual property during assaults on journalists by government employees
In multiple brazen moves by government employees, journalists from Velykyi Kyiv News Agency and Cherkasy TV channel “Antenna” were accosted, assaulted, and forcibly removed from public areas without explanation in separate instances. Journalists from the Velykyi Kyiv News Agency reported that government employees attempted to remove evidence of the alterations by committing “theft of intellectual property” by confiscating eyewitnesses’ electronic devices at Stolychny Market. Cherkasy TV channel reports that municipal inspectors entered the studio’s offices in Cherkasy city and beat a journalist a day after criticizing the municipal inspector’s office on Facebook.
Journalists blocked from attending a noncompliance mask-wearing court hearing in Lutsk City District
Film crews from Avers TV channel were barred from attending court hearings in Lutsk City Courts on February 4, 2021, over the violation of a man who was fined for non-compliance in mask-wearing while he played outside with his son.
Massive DDoS-attack on news site, “Actual”, in Zaporizhzhya
Zaporizhzhya news site “Actual” suffered a massive DDoS-attack between February 3rd to the 4th, with 57 million “requests” and 5.5 million “visits” over the course of 24 hours. This was an attempt to cause server overload and automatically block access to the site. It is suspected that this DDoS-attack is a result of political conflicts between local politicians and the leader of a Ukrainian party.
INSTITUTE OF MASS MEDIA REPORTS THAT ZAPORIZHIA LED VIOLATIONS OF JOURNALISTS IN JANUARY
The Institute of Mass Media recently reported 12 cases of violations of freedom of speech, with Zaporizhia having the highest number of instances. Violations included the “obstruction of professional journalism,” “beating,” “restriction of access to information,” and “cybercrime,” among others. The rights of journalists were primarily violated by local authorities, security police, and the judiciary.
Journalists from the Odessa Region appeal restrictions on media representatives to the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights
Journalists from the Odessa Region have appealed to the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, at the Verkhovna Rada (the unicameral parliament of Ukraine) regarding the restrictions on media representatives accessing the Odessa Regional Council and Odessa Regional State Administration. The appeal, signed by 27 media workers, calls for the overturning of rules signed into law on December 15, 2020 that restrict journalists from accessing the administrative building “No. 1” unless accompanied by employees of either of the press services, Odessa Regional Council (OOR) or Regional State Administration (RSA). The December 15, 2020 ruling is in direct violation of Article 25 of the Law of Ukraine, which stipulates that journalists have “freedom to access the premises of public authorities”.
FACEBOOK DELETES PAGE OF BABEL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Without any previous warnings, Facebook deleted the page of Yevhen Spirin, editor-in-chief of Babel, on January 27. Spirin said he had been running the page for 13 years with written commentary about the Russian occupation. According to Spirin, Facebook also deleted a number of other accounts, including that of blogger and former political prisoner Oleksandr Volodarsky.
IN ZAPORIZHIA JOURNALISTS PROTEST NEAR CITY COUNCIL BUILDING DEMANDING LESS INTERFERENCE WITH MEDIA WORK
On January 27, local journalists in Zaporizhia gathered near the city council building, protesting and demanding that government officials and police stop interfering with their work and permit them to cover meetings of the City Council without hindrance. Representatives from six local outlets joined the protest. Journalists have been blocked from attending City Council and deputy commission sessions since the spring of 2020.
CITY COUNCIL DEPUTY OBSTRUCTED JOURNALISTS AND CAMERA CREW FROM FILMING
Volodymyr Kondruk, Deputy of the Kamyanets-Podilsky City Council, obstructed the camera crew of the Kamyanets-Podilsky TV and Radio Company as they were filming a story on the territory of a former water hospital. This area has been associated with conflict. The developer claims that he had all the permits and acts within the current legislation to permit them to be at the scene.
TWO JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING ZAPORIZHZHYA CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
On January 20, security officials blocked 061.ua journalist Elmira Shagabudtdinova and and Nenachas editor Kateryna Maiboroda from attending meetings of the Zaporizhzhya City Council. The officials cited Covid-19 quarantine restrictions. IMI lawyer Ali Sarafov views these restrictions as illegal obstacles for the journalists and their lawful activities.
PARAMILITARY GUARDS OBSTRUCT JOURNALIST ACTIVITY IN UKRZALIZNYTSIA
Andriy Kachor, editor-in-chief of the Vezha publication, has appealed to the police following an incident on January 13 when guards detained journalists. The journalists were recording videos for a historical research project about the Tyazhilov residential district. Kachor, along with journalists Mykola Herkalyuk and Maryna Serbinovych, were detained for almost three hours and unable to perform their professional duties. Meanwhile, the guards were unable to refer to a specific legal provision that prohibited filming in that place. Lawyer Ali Safarov of the Institute of Mass Information said that the paramilitary guards of UZ had no right to detain the journalists.
JOURNALIST BARRED FROM ATTENDING COMMISSION MEETING IN ZAPORIZHZHYA
On January 18, editor-in-chief of the Hvozdy portal Bohdan Vasylenko was not permitted to attend a commission meeting on health care and social protection held by the Zaporizhzhya City Council. He was told that he did not have the relevant order from Gennady Naumov, the new secretary of the Zaporizhzhya City Council, permitting him access.
IMI RECORDS 229 VIOLATIONS OF FREE SPEECH IN 2020
Recent data released by the Institute of Mass Media indicated that, as of December 28, 229 cases of violations of freedom of speech were recorded in Ukraine during 2020. Of these, 171 cases involved physical aggression against journalists. For comparison, in 2019 a total of 243 cases of violations of freedom of speech were recorded, with 172 cases involving physical aggression against journalists. In 2020, the main categories of violations included obstruction of lawful journalistic activity, access, beatings, threats, and legal pressure. These results were collected as part of IMI’s free speech monitoring study, “Barometer of Freedom of Speech.”
JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING COURT HEARING IN KYIV FOR THE SECOND TIME
According to Ukrpress.info journalist Ihor Rudych, he and his ICTV camera crew were once again barred by court guards and presiding judge Vitaliy Pantelienko from attending a court hearing in the Kyiv Commerical Court of Appeal. Rudych reported this to the IMI hotline.
RE-ELECTED MAYOR OF ZAPORIZHIA REFUSED TO VOTE ON ISSUE OF ADMITTING JOURNALISTS TO SESSIONS
On December 21, deputies of the Zaporizhia City Council raised the issue of admitting journalists to the session hall during quarantine restrictions and proposed to put it to a vote. However, the re-elected mayor of Zaporizhia, Volodymyr Buryak, refused to vote. Currently, local media and journalists are not allowed to attended meetings in the session hall under the guise of quarantine.
UN REPORT SHOWS IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HUMAN AND SOCIAL RIGHTS IN UKRAINE, INCLUDING VIOLATIONS FOR JOURNALISTS
A new report from the United Nations, based upon the work of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), found that the Covid-19 pandemic and response measures have aggravated human rights concerns in Ukraine. The report highlights that access to justice and the right to public trial have been affected, with journalists repeatedly prohibited from accessing juridical proceedings. The report also highlights increased incidents of hate speech and discriminatory acts towards minority groups, including LGBTQI, Roma, and homeless people, as well as healthcare workers. The report is available in Ukrainian, Russian, and English.
JUDGE IN KROPYVNYTSKYI REFUSES TO OPEN HEARING DUE TO PRESENCE OF JOURNALISTS
Judge Ruslan Burko of the Kirov District Court of Kropyvnytskyi refused to open a court hearing due to the presence of journalists at the meeting. According to freelance journalist Anastasia Zubova, before the court hearing, Judge Burko said that the non-participants in the trial should leave the hearing. He justified these requests by mentioning quarantine restrictions. He did not offer to move the hearing to a larger room, but simply postponed the hearing and left the courtroom. Institute of Mass Information Lawyer Ali Safarov noted that the judge’s conduct violates Article 322 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, which defines the continuity of the trial and lists when a judge has the right to adjourn a hearing.
ZAPORIZHIA CHAIRMAN ELECTED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND WITHOUT MASS MEDIA
On December 15, Vitaliy Bogovin from the “Servant of the People” party was elected as the chairman of the Zaporizhia Regional Council behind closed doors by some deputies who had gathered under the protection of unknown individuals. Journalists were not allowed to attend the meeting. MP Volodymyr, a leader of the local organization OPZZH, described the election behind closed doors as a possible illegal seizure of power.
JOURNALISTS PREVENTED FROM ATTENDING COURT HEARING IN KYIV
Journalist Ihor Rudych of Ukrpress.info has reported that he and the ICTV crew were not allowed to attend the court hearing of the Kyiv Commercial Court of Appeal on December 14, 2020. Rudych and the crew were not allowed into the courtroom by court guards and by Judge Vitaliy Pantelienko. The case concerned the ‘Voskhod’ sports complex. The judge, according to Rudych, said that the broadcast would be on YouTube and refused to allow the journalists to enter the courtroom and film the hearing. Journalists were only able to enter the courtroom after the hearing. Lawyer of the Institute of Mass Media Ali Safarov noted that the tendency to prevent journalists from attending court hearings without proper legal grounds is very dangerous and that it poses a real threat to the openness and transparency of court proceedings, and thus to ensuring real democracy in Ukraine.
JOURNALISTS BARRED FROM HEARING IN CASE OF FORMER PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH
On December 9, 2020, a hearing in the case of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych begun in the Pechersk court, however most journalists were not allowed to attend it. Judicial guards required all media representatives to write a request to stay in the courtroom. An hour and a half later, when journalists managed to reach the general court office by phone, they were informed that no one else would be allowed in. They were told that the petition had to be submitted at least three hours before the beginning of the meeting. However, this rule was not initially reported by the court guards and all those present were forced to stay in a small room, violating the recommended quarantine restrictions.
ZAKARPATTIA REGIONAL COUNCIL WARNS THEY WILL RESTRICT ADMISSION OF JOURNALISTS TO COUNCIL SESSION
The press service of the Zakarpattia Regional Council warned journalists that media representatives will be restricted from attending the first meeting of the newly elected members of the regional council, scheduled for December 7. “In order to comply with the quarantine requirements, the number of media representatives accredited to participate in the meeting is limited,” said a statement on the website of the regional council. Lawyer Ali Safarov notes that Article 25 of the Law on Information, which specifies the rights of journalists, has been amended to explicitly state the right of journalists to be in quarantined places. That is, restrictions on journalists’ access to a quarantined session is illegal and will not meet the requirements of current legislation.
IMI RECORDS 19 VIOLATIONS OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN UKRAINE DURING NOVEMBER
Throughout November, the Institute of Mass Media (IMI) recorded 19 violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. 10 of them concerned physical aggression against journalists. This data comes from the monthly monitoring activities of IMI’s “Barometer of Freedom of Speech.” According to IMI, journalists were not allowed to attend the City Council session, the election of the rector of the university, were not invited to a meeting with the president, were kept indoors, and were attacked live, etc. All this was done by ordinary citizens, as well as law enforcement and government officials. IMI also recorded five cases of restriction of access to information. The journalists were denied access to public information by the following administrators: the Zaporizhzhya Road Service, the Security Service of Ukraine, and the President’s Office. In addition, there were two cases of cybercrime and legal pressure on the media, as well as one case of beating and damaging journalists’ property.
JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING REGIONAL COUNCIL SESSION
On December 2, journalists were forbidden to enter the session hall where the first meeting of the newly elected Rivne Regional Council was taking place. This restriction was motivated by quarantine restrictions. Lyudmyla Pankratova, a media lawyer at the Institute for the Development of Regional Press, considers the exclusion of journalists from entering the session hall illegal and that it shows signs of obstruction of journalistic activity (Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
SHIPPING MAGAZINE PUBLISHER IS VICTIM OF ARSON
In Odesa on the night of November 26, unknown individuals set fire to the car of Oleksandr Sivak, the publisher of Shipping (Sudnoplavstvo) magazine. According to Oleksandr Sivak, he and his family were threaten a lot last year. Although he wrote five statements to the Prosecutor’s Office, no actions was taken by the police. Sivak connects the arson of the car with his professional activity.
76 Female Journalists oppressed in Ukraine since beginning of 2020
According to monitoring data from the Institute of Mass Media’s “Barometer of Freedom of Speech,” 76 female journalists have been oppressed and their professional rights infringed upon in Ukraine since the beginning of this year. Female journalists were mostly subjected to physical aggression, including threats, beatings, obstruction, and property damage. Other harassment included restrictions on access to public information, censorship and surveillance.
POLICE OFFICER ATTACKS JOURNALIST IN SEMENIVKA
On November 10, in the village of Semenivka in the Poltava region, the head of the local police department, Mykola Holoshchapov, attacked the editor-in-chief of Teleradiocompany-Inform, Mykhailo Pohribny, taking his video camera and attempting to break it. The journalist had filmed a series of reports about an agricultural firm, the transport of which was placed under court arrest. According to Mr. Pohribny, the officer did not explain anything, just pushed him, and then tried to flee the scene.
JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM ATTENDING CITY COUNCIL SESSION
On November 4, “061.ua” correspondent Elmira Shagabudddinova and “Panopticon” journalist Victoria Shmulin were not allowed to attend a session of the Zaporizhia City Council, allegedly due to quarantine measures against COVID-19. Lawyer Ali Safarov has said that since March 2020, the Cabinet’s decision on quarantine has changed – in fact, it removed the restrictions on journalists’ visiting city council sessions. He clarified that restrictions on journalists’ access to the quarantined session would thus be “a violation of the rights of journalists and entail liability under Article №171 of the Criminal Code.”
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OPENED INTO OBSTRUCTION OF JOURNALISTS IN KHARKIV
A group of young men pushed journalists away from their filming location near a market in Kharkiv and tried to knock away their cameras and mobile phones. Police have opened a criminal investigation into the obstruction of these journalists.
JOURNALISTS DEPRIVED OF ACCREDITATION BY RADA COMMITTEE
On October 28, The Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech deprived journalists from Slidstvo.Info of accreditation. The editorial board saw Verkhovna Rada’s decision as an attack on freedom of speech and pressure on independent media by government agencies. Then, on October 29, following a protest by journalists of Slidstvo.Info, the Verkhovna Rada rejected the idea of depriving media workers of their accreditation. This was announced by Irina Karmelyuk, head of the press service of the parliament.
ONLINE PUBLICATION LIGA.NET CYBER ATTACKED BY HACKERS
Online media publication Liga.net reported that it was cyber attacked by hackers who staged a massive attack on the media provider’s channel. First, the Liga.net website stopped working on October 24. On the same day, technicians managed to restore the site, but the attack resumed on October 26. Liga.net has suggested that the attack came from Russia.
EDITOR OF CITY NEWSPAPER EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL AGGRESSION AT POLLING STATION
The current deputy of the Ternivka City Council in the Dnipropetrovsk region demonstrated physical aggression at the polling station against Alyona Poddueva, editor of the city newspaper Visti Ternivka. At the polling stations of Ternivka, Poddueva recorded the mass presence of persons with certificates of “freelance correspondents” of the Pavlograd newspaper Behemoth. The deputy of the city council attacked Poddueva as she was interrogating one of the “correspondents.” Poddueva has filed a complaint with the local police department for obstructing journalistic activities and informed the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
WEBSITE OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AGENCY FOURTH POWER CYBER ATTACKED
On October 22, the website of “Fourth Power,” an information-analytical publication and investigative journalism agency, was attacked by DDoS. The attack stopped the website from working for several hours. Journalists suggest that the attack was related to the investigation that Fourth Power had published the previous day on Viktor Shakirzyan, the candidate for mayor of Rivne.
COURT BANS DISTRIBUTION OF BOOK BY JOURNALIST-HISTORIAN
On October 19, Darnytskyi District Court of Kyiv banned the distribution of The Case of Vasyl Stus, a book written by journalist and historian Vakhtang Kipiani. The Court did so with the permission of “Opposition Platform – For Life” Deputy Viktor Medvedcuk. The first hearing in the lawsuit began in October 2019. Medvedchuk took issue with nine phrases in the book, which he alleged were false and based on the “author’s subjective conclusion.” He sued the author for damaging his “honor, dignity and professional reputation.” 90% of the volume of the book consists of archival materials.
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OPENED AFTER POLICE ATTACK OF JOURNALIST
On October 15, the State Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation into a statement made by director and journalist Taisia Kutuzova regarding police obstruction. Kutuzova said that she was attacked by police on October 6 during a meeting of the Fastiv district election commission. Kutuzova had been there shooting footage for her documentary about local activist Serhiy Chagarov, entitled Shut up!
NEW DETAILS IN INVESTIGATION OF WIRETAPPING OF JOURNALIST
The head of the National Police, Ihor Klymenko, announced that there were new details in the case of wiretapping involving journalist Mykhailo Tkach. However, Klymenko said he cannot disclose these details because the investigation is still ongoing. The story began on August 8 when Tkach found “signs of a listening device” in his home. Tkach lives on the top floor of his apartment building and said that he found a hole about 60cm deep in his ceiling leading to the attic, which is freely accessible from several entrances. The National Police opened a criminal case under the article on illegal circulation and the use of hidden recording devices. The journalist considers the actions of the police ineffective.