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PACE Rapporteur on media freedom: Situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine is catastrophic

Source : 112 Ukraine

General Rapporteur on media freedom and safety of journalists stressed that the Commissioner for Human Rights will work to ensure that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies end impunity for crimes against journalists
18:02, 2 September 2021

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
AFP

Europe is very concerned about the catastrophic situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine. This was stated by the PACE General Rapporteur on media freedom and safety of journalists, Member of the Federal Council of Austria Stefan Schennach.

He stressed that the Commissioner for Human Rights will work to ensure that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies end impunity for crimes against journalists.

"As General Rapporteur from Council of Europe for freedom of press - we are very worried about catastrophic situation of media in Ukraine and about the horrible situation for the journalists. We are really extremely worried and I will prepare in autumn report about this situation...For many years Ukraine has been famous for its brutal crimes against journalists. In particular, murders. Presidents change, but these crimes are not investigated. Commissioner for Human Rights will work on that, so that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies end impunity for crimes against journalists, we can work together. We can also involve the European Parliament in this discussion. To set up pressure that and state that any pardoning of murders is not acceptable," Schennach stressed.

Earlier, the American organization Freedom House, which specializes in promoting and protecting democracy and freedom around the world, said that 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.

The UN called on Zelensky to immediately restore broadcasting of illegally closed TV channels. 

On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on the application of sanctions against the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK. 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.

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 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK. But literally an hour after the start of broadcasting, the authorities illegally disconnected the channel from the air.

Leading European politicians, international and Ukrainian experts and world media have criticized Zelensky's decree on the termination of the work of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and Zik TV channels.

In recent months, the world media, European politicians and experts have published more than 80 thousand materials on the persecution of the opposition and independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities.

On August 20, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed sanctions against Ihor Guzhva, editor-in-chief of Strana.ua. Also, the NSDC introduced sanctions against Anatoliy and Olha Shariy.

Earlier, the National Council announced that it would file a lawsuit to revoke the license of the NASH TV channel. The reason is the speech on air of the channel by Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party, banned in Ukraine, who allegedly said phrases inciting hatred.

On August 23, hundreds of journalists of illegally closed TV channels held a rally demanding world leaders to protect freedom of speech in Ukraine. The journalists planned to hold a rally under the building of the National Opera, where the participants of the Crimean Platform gathered, but the police did not let them in.

On August 30, Journalists of illegally closed 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK, and Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channels, representatives of Strana.ua and Sharij.net together with the Charity Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech held a mass rally at the walls of the US Embassy, so that during a meeting with President of Ukraine Zelensky, US President Joseph Biden understood who he was negotiating with - a person who closed the opposition media in his country.

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