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Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech addresses UN, OSCE and Freedom House concening destruction of freedom of speech by Ukrainian authorities

Source : 112 Ukraine

As the letter says, citizens of Ukraine are deprived of these rights by violating their rights to access information which is guaranteed by law
19:46, 31 August 2021

Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Open source

Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech addressed the international human rights non-governmental organization Freedom House, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe asking to use their influence to convince the Ukrainian authorities to abandon authoritarian policies and censorship of free media in our country. This is stated in the letter of the Foundation to the international organizations.

As the letter says, citizens of Ukraine are deprived of these rights by violating their rights to access information that is guaranteed by law. Journalists and the media are under unprecedented pressure: attacks, threats, harassment, beatings, abductions, and channel closures. At the same time, the authorities and law enforcement agencies took the position of assisting in the violation of journalists' rights.

"Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech addressed respected international organizations that defend principles of freedom of speech and democracy throughout the world, with a kind request to turn your attention to the improper state of ensuring freedom of speech in Ukraine, which resulted in the illegal closure of a number of media in the country by the Ukrainian authorities," the letter reads.

Below is the full text of the appeal:

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

International human rights non-governmental organization

Freedom House

Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech addressed respected international organizations that defend principles of freedom of speech and democracy throughout the world, with a kind request to turn your attention to the improper state of ensuring freedom of speech in Ukraine, which resulted in the illegal closure of a number of media in the country by the Ukrainian authorities.

In grave breach of basic principles of rule of law, the Ukrainian authorities have banned the broadcasting of four influential TV channels and a number of online media.

In early February, three Ukrainian TV channels – "112 Ukraine", "NewsOne", and "ZiK" – were shut without any legal background. At the whim of President Zelensky's Office, almost 1,500 journalists were kicked out on the street. However, we did not give up and created a new TV channel – "Pershiy Nezalezhniy" ("The First Independent"), which united the staff of "112 Ukraine", "NewsOne", and "ZiK".

On February 26, the TV channel launched its broadcasting, however, an hour later and under the pressure from the authorities, Ukrainian telecom providers were compelled to stop the satellite broadcasting of the channel, even despite the previously agreed arrangements. The TV channel did not survive a day, and again without any legal background, we were denied our right to work.

On July 30, 2020, the authorities revoked the broadcasting license of the KRT TV channel after the broadcast of the state holiday event in Belarus.

Later, on August 20, similarly, the authorities blocked the work of two more popular in Ukraine online media "Strana.ua" and "sharij.net".

Citizens of Ukraine are deprived of these rights by violating their rights to access information which is guaranteed by law. Journalists and the media are under unprecedented pressure: attacks, threats, harassment, beatings, abductions, and channel closures. At the same time, the authorities and law enforcement agencies took the position of assisting in the violation of journalists' rights.

Today, these actions by the authorities are receiving increasingly sound condemnation on the part of respected international human rights watchdogs and news about the closure of the TV channels and online media have already been published in all the world's leading media.

However, the Ukrainian authorities ignore the opinion of the world journalistic community, specialized international organizations and well-known politicians and experts.

Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech considers its main task the support for the legal rights of journalists and media workers, as well as constitutional human rights and freedoms.

We urge the respected international organizations to join our struggle for the freedom of speech in Ukraine, for this cornerstone of democracy. We are asking of the UN, OSCE, Freedom House to use their influence to convince the Ukrainian authorities to abandon authoritarian policies and censorship of free media in our country.

We believe that the discussion of this issue will be an excellent demonstration that the protection of freedom of speech and the protection of human rights and freedoms is a fundamental value and a precondition for the creation of a healthy democratic society.

Respectfully,

Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech

At the end of August, journalists from the illegally closed media 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK, Pershy Nezalezhniy, KRT, Strana.ua, Sharij.net held a mass rally near the walls of the US Embassy in Kyiv, during which they handed over a letter about illegal actions of the authorities, represented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and also called on US President Joe Biden to raise the issue of destruction of freedom of speech in Ukraine by Zelensky.

Earlier, hundreds of journalists from 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels came to the UN Office in Ukraine to express their gratitude for the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "Update on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine," which declared the closure of TV channels illegal.

On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree on the imposition of sanctions against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels. According to the decree, which came into force from the moment of signing, sanctions were applied to TV channels for five years. This provides for blocking the broadcasting of all three TV channels.

Earlier, on February 20, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council on sanctions against 8 individuals and 19 legal entities. Among them are three Ukrainian citizens - the politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marchenko and the common-law wife of the owner of the NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine channels, Taras Kozak, Natalya Lavreniuk.

On February 26, journalists of the TV channels illegally closed by President Volodymyr Zelensky united and created a new TV channel - Pershiy Nezalezhniy. The founders of the new media are a group of journalists who previously worked on the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK channels. However, within an hour after the start of broadcasting, Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel was illegally turned off under pressure from the authorities.

During the last months, the world mass media, European politicians, and experts published over 80,000 materials dedicated to the persecution by Ukrainian authorities of the opposition and independent TV channels.

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