OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir expressed concern over the decision of Kyiv court, which allowed the claim of far-right C14 against Hromadske TV, which considered the organization to be neo-Nazi as the OSCE reported.
“I am concerned with this court decision in Ukraine, as it sets a harmful precedent in the country and could have a dissuading effect on journalistic work,” Desir said.
He underlined that Hromadske TV grounded its estimation on a “serious journalistic investigation”. So the concern group “can contest this affirmation and deny it, but it is the right of the media to publish their view based on the information they gathered on the C14 organization and their members, many of whom declared that they joined the group because of its neo-Nazi orientation.”
Founded in 2010, C14 is named after the 14-word slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children” of American Nazi David Lane. C14 is regularly involved in numerous attacks against civilians, students, journalists, lawyers, social activists, foreigners, minorities, LGBT activists, they often conduct hate crimes and often go unpunished.
April 20, 2018, C14 filmed themselves carrying out a pogrom in the Lysa Hora nature reserve near Kyiv, where they drove fifteen families from their homes. C14 gangs, carrying weapons, attacked the Roma. A video posted days later showed whole families with small children fleeing in terror, chased by masked men who hurled stones and sprayed them with gas canisters, before setting their tents ablaze. In July 2018, far-right C14 member Serhiy Mazur, was convicted for attacks against Roma settlement; he has received a two-month suspended sentence. April 20, 2016, C14 members stabbed a left-wing anti-war activist and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy student Stas Serhiyenko. In September 2018, C14 members have conducted an attack against the lawyer in Zhytomyr.
“It is important that journalists can report on political activities without fear of economic reprisals or penalties,” Desir said.
He noted that this decision poses a threat for independent journalism and expressed hope for its abolition after filing of the appeal.
On August 7, the commercial court of Kyiv sustained a case of C14, as the far-right organization sued Hromadske TV. The complainant demanded that the TV channel retract the label “neo-Nazi organization”, which it had used to call C14. The court also ruled that the channel will have to pay 3,500 hryvnias (USD 140) of the court fee.