Freedom House sent a letter to President Biden ahead of the upcoming visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasizing the importance of placing human rights and democracy at the center of the agenda and providing recommendations to address concerning developments in Ukraine regarding freedom of expression and violence against journalists, activists, and vulnerable groups. The corresponding text was published on its website.
"We understand the challenges facing Ukraine: the country continues to experience threats to its security through Russia’s occupation of Crimea and eastern Donbas and finds itself at the forefront of a malign disinformation campaign conducted by the Russian Federation. The temptation for Ukraine to prioritize these security threats at the expense of its democratic values and rights protections is real. However, any effective response must be rooted in upholding and strengthening democratic institutions," reads the letter.
As Russia’s neighbor, Ukraine is the testing site for Russian disinformation tactics that are then applied elsewhere, including in the United States. While there is no silver bullet solution, we believe that any attempt to tackle disinformation should be grounded in the rule of law and protect human rights.
"Unfortunately, President Zelensky continues to use executive power, without judicial review, to sanction media outlets, tech platforms, journalists, and websites under the pretext of fighting disinformation. This power was most visibly used in February when he signed a decree adopted by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to sanction three popular Ukrainian TV channels on the grounds that the channels were a national security threat," it underlines.
The organization urged to push lawmakers to pass draft Law No. 5488, which would provide law enforcement the legal context to prosecute those who commit hate crimes based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity and to address the issue of right-wing extremism by initiating legislation prohibiting state bodies from providing financial or other assistance to as right-wing radical groups that advocate the use of violence.
The meeting of President Zelensky with U.S. President Joe Biden was postponed on the U.S. request due to the expiration of time of the ultimatum of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan on the evacuation of the foreigners from Kabul Airport.