The journalists of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels send this letter and use it as an opportunity to draw your attention to the situation in Ukraine. We no longer feel safe, we no longer feel protected. Instead, we see a threat to democracy, freedom of speech, journalism and even threat to our lives.
The growing radicalization of society and threats to the workers of media resumed after the Decree of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky #43/2021 from February 2, 2021 “On Imposition of Personal Special Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (sanctions)”. The document provides for personal sanctions against the owner of the TV channels and termination of broadcasting of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels.
Journalists are concerned about this decision of the authorities. Because it means that 1500 channel employees will lose their jobs. They will be deprived of the right and opportunity to fulfill their mission - to tell the truth about events and life in the country and the world. Not only media workers will suffer from this, but also millions of Ukrainians who watch, support and trust 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels.
The Decree of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stirred up paramilitary formations and radicals. They launched a campaign to disrupt the work of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels. Employees were not allowed to their work places, they were threatened with physical violence and harassment.
We are most frightened by the consequences of the campaign started by Serhiy Sternenko, the former head of the regional branch of the military and political movement Right Sector. It is important to note that he is suspected of murder, which he broadcasted live. Serhiy Sternenko was due to be held in pre-trial detention center or under house arrest. However, he was released under personal obligation of one of the lawmakers of Ukraine. This decision allows Strenenko to freely move around the country and threaten journalists.
He urges not to hire employees of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels. On his Facebook page, he created a list with personal data of all workers of TV channels. A Telegram channel and a Google document with the names, phone numbers, and personal information of channel employees have appeared online. The participants of this campaign called for the massacre of media workers. Law enforcement officers did not take any action against Serhiy Sternenko and his accomplices.
We are concerned about this situation because we feel moral pressure and threats of physical violence. We remember how in 2019, the office of 112 Ukraine TV channel was shelled from a grenade launcher. In two years, the authorities did not find any customers or contractors. And there is an explanation for this - the authorities will continue to intimidate and threaten journalists. It has already been reported that Sternenko's lists are being used to persecute journalists. No one can guarantee that the radicals covered by the authorities will not start physically eliminating the journalists of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE and ZIK TV channels.
Under these circumstances, the actions of the authorities and radicals, unfortunately, cannot be considered other than political blackmail and a way to put pressure on freedom of media.
We are convinced that such actions directly violate the right to freedom of speech provided for in Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, violate the rights of journalists and jeopardize Ukrainian citizens' access to accurate and timely information.
Given all the above-mentioned and the lack of a adequate reaction from the authorities, we urge you not to ignore this situation, to prevent encroachment on freedom of speech in Ukraine and to take measures to prevent direct political pressure and attempts to persecute independent media.
We declare that despite blackmail, intimidation and danger to our lives, we will not stop and will not abandon our profession. We will not give up our mission to tell people the truth because freedom of speech is the main asset of democracy. We will fight so that in our country no one would get punished but be respected for telling the truth.
Leaders and work collectives of 112 Ukraine, NEWSONE, and ZIK TV channels