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IMI: 23 violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine in January
 12 Feb 2024
In January 2024, IMI experts recorded 23 freedom of speech violations in Ukraine. Of these, the responsibility lies with the Ukrainian side in 17 cases. This is evidenced by the monthly monitoring "Freedom of Speech Barometer" by the Institute of Mass Information.

During the same period last year, these figures were significantly different, as the IMI recorded 10 crimes against freedom of speech in Ukraine, nine of which were committed by Russia and targeted the media and journalists.

The six Russian crimes in January 2024 include firing at and injuring journalists, cyber attacks, legal pressure and damage a media office as a result of missile strikes.

At least three journalists from Ukrainian and foreign media crews were injured by Russian shelling. For instance, the crew of the Turkish news agency Anadolu were injured by the Russian shelling strike of the Park Hotel in Kharkiv. The journalists said that they were shocked by the audacity of the Russians, since this site was exclusively civilian and no military personnel were present. The Ukrainian fixer for the TV channel France 2, Violetta Pedorych, was also injured by the strike. Now she has a glass shard stuck in the bridge of her nose, which the doctors plan to observe for some time.

Furthermore, Radio Liberty reporter Dmytro Yevchyn was injured on the front line on January 17. He and cameraman Mykyta Isayko came under artillery fire while filming a TV story near Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia oblast. Dmytro Yevchyn received a shrapnel wound in the leg and was timely evacuated and taken to a hospital.

The mass shelling strike on Kyiv on January 2 damaged the NV office building. Radio NV editor-in-chief, Oleksiy Tarasov, says that some windows were blown out and the entrance door was blown away. The team had to postpone the broadcast for two hours.

At the same time, IMI recorded 17 freedom of speech violations for which Ukrainian citizens are responsible. These include cases of death threats, preclusion, surveillance, restriction of access to public information, indirect pressure and cyber crime.

January 2024 turned out to be a month full of pressure and persecution for Ukrainian journalists. Investigative journalist Yuriy Nikolov and the Bihus.Info team were subjected to pressure, wiretapping and surveillance.

Kherson oblast journalist Oleh Baturyn reported violent threats and contacted the police over them. He believes that the threats have to do with his reporting on the current Kherson Oblast Council deputy Valeriy Saltykov registering his business in Russia.

Two more journalists, Iryna Hryb from Odesa and "Politerno" chief editor Andriy Shchesnyak (Ternopil), reported being surveilled. Iryna Hryb discovered a listening and tracking device in her car. She believes that the surveillance has to do with her report on the Odesa oblast grain corridor, which, according to her, featured representatives of the Odesa Oblast Military Administration, the Bureau of Economic Security, the Odesa Customs Offie and the Tax Office.

Andriy Shchesniak reported surveillance and covert police actions. The editor believes that the surveillance has to do with his earlier articles (from November 2023) about the oblast police chief, Serhiy Zyubanenko. He believes that, following these articles, the Ternopil City Joint Territorial Center for Staffing and Social Support began a covert investigation of him, serving his mother with a draft notice for him. Both media workers contacted the police with statements accordingly.

Two journalists, Natalia Rop from NV.ua and Alina Kondratenko from "Watchers", reported preclusion. Nataliya Rop says that "Pryamiy" TV host Peter Zalmayev interfered with her work and was rude to her. He prevented her from recording a pre-arranged interview the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden in Switzerland. When the journalist refused to let her colleague ask the Minister a question, Zalmayev used obscene language with her.

Alina Kondratenko was barred by court security from attending an open hearing at the Solomyansk District Court of Kyiv in the case about the Motor Sich ex-CEO Vyacheslav Bohuslaev. The journalist was asked to submit a petition "on her wish to be present". The court security said that there were not enough seats in the courtroom, mentioning possible explosives inside, the air raid alert and even the lunch break. The defense also cited the presiding judge's order to limit the audience admitted into the courtroom in view of the martial law. At the same time, the participants and journalists who agreed to file a "petition about their wish to be present" were allowed to attend the meeting despite all the listed "obstacles".

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