We, the staff members of 112 Ukraine TV channel are asking law enforcement bodies to protect us from the arbitrary conduct of the far-right activists, who through intimidation and threats try to influence the editorial policy of the channel, to refuse from international standards of broadcasting in the interest of certain political forces.
For five years, Ukrainian authorities have been systematically and viciously waging fight against freedom of speech. Inter TV channel was set on fire; journalist Zorina suffered a severe injury. Independent journalists and bloggers have been facing threats and prosecution. Law enforcers defiantly ignored the beating of NewsOne correspondent Daria Bilera during live broadcast near Prosecutor General’s Office, which happened before their eyes.
It seemed that with the change of authorities, the long-awaited changes would happen in the country. However, those are yet to be seen. The new president, just like the one before, continues to inflame hysteria around media which displeases him and this encourages radical groups to hold illegal actions against journalists. Several weeks ago, Strana.ua agancy journalist Vladyslav Bovtruk was beaten by the radical activists right before the police on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv.
One of these days, NewsОne TV channel became the victim of far-right forces. Harassment of the channel and journalists started over the editorial policy of the media. The radicals held a rally, during which they drew on the building of the channel, beat the journalist of Strana.ua agency Kirill Malyshev, who covered the meeting. Several days now, the management and journalists working on the channel receive anonymous physical intimidation and some parliamentarians openly declare that all NewsОne journalists should be beaten up and the channel must be burned down. The public did not see law enforcers react to these illegal actions of radical forces and their political patrons.
There was also no reaction from the President of Ukraine, who is a guarantor of the rights and liberties of citizens.
Feeling their impunity and using the “patronage” from some higher officials in the law enforcement agencies, far-rights become more brazen and their actions towards independent media and journalists become more aggressive.
On July 13, radical organizations intend to hold a rally at the building of 112 Ukraine TV channel. The organizer of the rally, a well-known nationalist and ex-member of the Right Sector Party, Serhiy Sternenko announces that the radicals will protest over the editorial policy of the channel. The staff of the channel already began receiving “recommendations” not to show up at the workplace under the threat of physical attack.
If earlier the authorities used against independent media inspections and threats to close the agency, during recent weeks they use open intimidation and physical violence. Traditionally, the authorities use “hand-raised” far-rights for this.
While the political leaders promote themselves and fight for the voters’ support, power structures designed to protect the rights of journalists, play in their hands.
The lack of a coherent, timely, and tough response from the international community creates for the right-right radicals a false idea of having a monopoly on violence and impunity. The question is that the hatred fueled by them against any kind of dissenting view will eventually lead to direct persecution of people who disagree with them, which is incompatible with the provisions on human rights at the beginning of the third millennium.
112 Ukraine will continue to fight for the freedom of speech and for the rights of TV channel viewers to receive full and objective information. As we have been doing all these years and for what we were rewarded by the big viewing public all over the country.
There has been no response from the President of Ukraine either, although the President is the guarantor of citizens’ rights and freedoms.
Feeling of impunity and protection from some top law enforcers make right wing radicals more and more brazen. Their actions against independent media and journalists become more aggressive.
(!) In the early morning of 13 July 2019 in Kiev an unknown person fired a grenade gun into the building of the 112 Ukraine TV Channel. A grenade hit the wall, as a result the facade of the building was damaged. No fatalities. The incident is qualified as a terrorist act. Police are looking for an intruder. Earlier, the 112 Ukraine TV Channel reported being threatened by nationalists. The occasion was the announced film by famous American director Oliver Stone about Maidan and the war in the Donbass by the 112 Ukraine TV Channel.
Up until recently the authorities pressured on independent media by employing such techniques as audits of alleged irregularities in their activities and threats of shutting down media outlets. Over last several weeks we have witnessed open intimidation and physical violence against independent media. Traditionally the authorities are employing “puppet” radical nationalist whom they control.
While political leaders have been indulging into self-promotion and fighting for voters. Authorities whose job is to protect rights of journalists are playing along with assailants on media freedom.
The lack of a clear, timely and harsh reaction from the international community creates a false perception in minds of right wing radicals that they possess a monopoly on violence and can enjoy impunity. The issue at stake is that the hatred towards any type of dissenting opinion fueled by radical right-wingers will sooner or later but inevitably transform into direct persecution of persons who hold different views. This is incompatible with the principles of human rights at the dawn of the third millennium.
The team of 112 Ukraine TV Channel demands that authorities immediately stop to intimidate and pressure on the channel on the eve of elections. We also demand that Ukrainian laws be complied with. We ask Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov and the leadership of the National Police to fulfill their duties and protect the channel from all types of illegal actions and to put a stop to rampant banditry against journalists. We call upon Ukrainian citizens to exhibit solidarity with protection of our common right to freedom of speech. We are grateful to every member of the audience and our followers on the Internet for their support and compassion towards channel staff.
112 Ukraine will keep fighting for freedom of speech and TV viewers’ right to receive full and unbiased information. We have been doing this for years and our reward is the large audience across the country.
Politicians and radicals have no right to influence the editorial policy of independent media. If Ukraine is a democracy these freedoms are worthy to be defended.