The systematic pressure of the authorities on freedom of speech and on unwanted media, in particular, on the Internet newspaper “Strana.ua [Country]”, appeared on the pages of the US Department of State’s report on human rights in Ukraine. The report was prepared by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
As one example the report cites the detention of Igor Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of strana.ua on June 22 in Kiev, allegedly for extortion (as strana.us has repeatedly reported, this case was fabricated from the very beginning by the Ukrainian authorities).
“Guzhva’s lawyers claimed that the journalist was arrested because of his professional activities, because his media publicly criticized high-ranking government officials,” the report said.
The report also mentions the 75% quota on Ukrainian language.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Ukrainian law enforcement raid at the Kiev offices of Media Holding Vesti, which includes Radio Vesti, the daily newspaper Vesti, and the news website Vesti-ukr. More than a dozen masked officers ripped open doors with crowbars, seized property, and fired tear gas in the offices yesterday, the company’s editor-in-chief, Oksana Omelchenko, said on her Facebook page.
Source in English:
Update in the case of Igor Guzhva, editor-in-chief of Strana.ua [read the post below for more]:
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has succeeded in “detaining” Guzhva
There was a new round of political pressure on the online publication Strana.ua. The Prosecutor General’s Office appealed to the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kiev for permission to detain the editor-in-chief of the publication Igor Guzhva and predictably received the consent. The General Prosecutor’s Office needed to cover up its failure to extend the preventive measure for Guzhva, namely the ban to leave Kiev, and to put on a good front.
The situation turned out to be so predictable that lawyer Andrei Portnov even issued a forecast, in which he painted step-by-step the forthcoming actions of the Prosecutor General’s Office and Ukraine’s authorities in general. This forecast includes an appeal to Interpol by Ukraine’s authorities, and even an attempt by President Poroshenko to “settle” the issue of extraditing Guzhva during his forthcoming visit to Austria. Given the zeal with which the authorities are trying to destroy the news outlet Strana.ua, probably everything predicted by Portnov, including the presidential “petition” in Vienna, will come true.
The Case of Igor Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of the online news publication Strana.ua, is the first instance of political emigration from Ukraine by the head of an important all-Ukrainian media outlet since the victory of Maidan in 2014.
Guzhva requested political asylum in Austria where he arrived after the official completion of the term of the preventive measure imposed on him by the court, namely the ban to leave Kiev. Unprecedented for Ukraine, this event has produced the effect of a bomb exploding in the information space both inside the state and outside it.
During the two-year existence of the publication, its editors and journalists have been repeatedly faced with searches, threats and attempts of political pressure. There have been 5 criminal cases based on trumped-up charges against Guzhva. He cited political persecution as the reason for his asking asylum in Austria, the decision, which he publicly announced on January 31.
As if in confirmation of the journalist’s words about the threats, the people’s deputies of the Radical Party immediately reacted to his departure. The head of the radicals, Oleg Lyashko, was outraged by this “serious failure” of the Ukrainian special services. His colleague Igor Mosiychuk complained that “patience is coming to an end, and it seems that there are chances for the repetition of the story of Buzina (writer and publicist Oles’ Buzina was killed near his house in Kiev – Ed.).” In other words, he expressed a threat of killing political opponents. It is noteworthy that when speaking of Guzhva’s case, the radicals forgot what he was actually accused of. Thus, Mosiychuk writes in his address to the Prosecutor General that Guzhva is charged with a bribe case, while the actual criminal case against the journalist was based on “fabricated” extortion charges filed by Moschichuk’s colleague in the Radical party, Dmitry Linko [Linko claimed that Guzhva personally attempted to extort money from him – Ed.].
A member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech Yuri Pavlenko notes that the committee has repeatedly drawn attention of international human rights organizations to the situation of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Thus, the investigations into the murders in Kiev of journalist Pavel Sheremet and publicist Olesya Buzina have still not been completed; the scandal with the criminal persecution of journalist Ruslan Kozaba has not abated; the criminal cases of journalists Timonin and Vasilets have not been completed; there has been pressure on TV channels “Inter”, “112 Ukraine” and “NewsONE”. The channel “Vesti” is talking about new attempts to block their work.
“The West has received yet another proof [Guzhva’s case] that there are big problems with freedom of speech in Ukraine, it is possible that the reaction to this may be an increase in pressure on the rest of the mass media and independent journalists that are not under control of the authorities,” Pavlenko said. Thus, Human Rights Watch states that Ukraine does not conduct a proper investigation of crimes against journalists. HRW notes that the authorities restrict freedom of expression and media freedom, “justifying them [restrictions] by the need to resist Russia’s military aggression in the east of Ukraine and anti-Ukrainian propaganda.”
The Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater will conduct an official investigation against one of the soloists of the ballet suspected of anti-Ukrainian views.
Director of the theater Vasily Vovkun noted that he received information about the separatist views of one of the soloists of the theater only today. “This morning I received this information, gave the assignment to find these materials and to investigate,” he said. With reference to anonymous sources “from the walls of the theater,” journalists reported that the anti-Ukrainian views of the soloist had been known to the collective for a long time.
When asked whether an official investigation would be carried out, the opera director replied in the affirmative.
The actor was accused that “from the beginning of the armed aggression in the east of Ukraine and to this day, he has been actively supporting illegal groups” DNR “and” LNR” and conducting anti-Ukrainian propaganda.”
Information about the separatist views of the soloist was unveiled by a journalist from Odessa, Elena Dobrovolskaya. She published screens from the pages of social networks.
Verkhovna Rada registered as a bill a so-called “Law about Collaborators”. It is designed to prevent admission to the civil service and elected bodies of government of people who collaborated with Russia and the separatists. Decisions as to who is a collaborator and who is not will not be made by a court, but a commission under the president of Ukraine.
“At the moment, individuals involved in collaboration continue to occupy or qualify for high positions in the government, which is unacceptable. In addition, during the settlement of the conflict [in Donbass], many such individuals will be granted amnesty, they will be subject to legislation that will prevent prosecution and punishment of participants of the events in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. There is no doubt that collaborationism should be condemned, and certain rights of collaborators should be limited in order to protect national interests Ukraine, peace, security and democratic development of the country “, – states the explanatory note to the draft Law on the website of the Verkhovna Rada.
The bill introduces a so-called verification for collaborationism for those who want to get into the authorities, law enforcement agencies, courts and participate in elections at all levels.
The bill is criticized for its vague and broad categorization of who can be considered as a collaborator.
Ukrainian journalists were sentenced to 9 years in prison for creating a Youtube channel
Berdichevsky court found journalists of the Ukrainian Channel 17 Dmitry Vasilets and Yevgeny Timonin guilty of assisting a terrorist organization and sentenced both to nine years in prison.
According to the investigation, Vasilets and Timonin are guilty of having organized a separatist television channel “Novorossia.TV” — more precisely: in 2014 during a trip to Donetsk they helped set up a page on the Youtube channel.
The accused did not admit their guilt. They argue that the case against them is only an excuse, while the real cause of the persecution is their activities as journalists of Channel 17 that sharply criticizes Poroshenko’s regime.
Ukraine bans books printed in Russia –such as chemistry textbooks or encyclopedias.
An expert council started operating in Ukraine that compiles “black lists” of Russian books banned from being imported to the country. The appearance of this kind of council was provided for in the recent legislation on restricting access to printed products from Russia.
Now every book needs to be translated into Ukrainian, added an annotation and passed on to the “court” that will decide whether it can be read by the Ukrainians or not. The Expert Council has already banned 13 books: history publications, textbooks and encyclopedias.
The Commission for Publicity and Ethics of the Mykolaiv City Council examined the petition by the political party “Democratic Alliance” regarding “separatist” actions and statements of deputy Zinaida Tanasevich.
The accusations included: she does not respect the ATO fighters; calls the Russians fighting in the Donbass “volunteers who protect people from the Ukrainian army”; she deliberately comes late for the sessions in order not to have to stand up for to the national anthem; posts in social networks pictures with a potentially Ukrainophobic message. Based on this, Democratic Alliance requires other deputies to condemn the actions of their colleague and begin the procedure for her recall.
However, the head of the commission, Alexander Malikin, objected that the party should deal with the recall of the Democratic Alliance deputy themselves according to established procedures.
CPJ, an international organization Committee to Protect Journalists, declares in an open letter to President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko that the SBU [ Security Service of Ukraine] “poses a significant threat to press freedom in Ukraine”
“In at least seven separate incidents documented by CPJ in the past two months the SBU has targeted newsrooms and journalists on accusations that appear politically motivated, and in retaliation for critical reporting.”
“In the latest instance on September 14, an SBU representative visited the Kiev offices of the independent news website Ukrainska Pravda, and delivered a letter to Editor-in-Chief Sevgil Musayeva demanding the outlet take down an article critical of the Ukrainian government, according to a CPJ interview with Musayeva. The article, which was originally published on January 24, described the government’s failure to prioritize upgrading the country’s military defense capabilities.”
“In three separate cases, on August 14, 29, and 30, SBU agents expelled international journalists, and barred them from the country for three years.”
“The SBU has also brought anti-state charges against freelance journalist Vasily Muravitsky, a reporter and columnist based in Zhytomyr, and has been holding him since August 1. If convicted, Muravitsky, who reported on politics, the annexation of Crimea, and the fighting in Donbass, faces up to 15 years in prison.”
“The website Strana has also come under SBU pressure. The SBU searched Strana‘s premises as well as the homes of at least two of its journalists in August, following an earlier raid in June. The site’s editor-in-chief, Igor Guzhva, is under investigation for allegedly disclosing state secrets.”
A journalist reports how two SBU officers abducted her in the center of Kiev
Near the Dnipro hotel in Kiev, two men forced into a car a young woman, a journalist of an electronic publication, and took her to an unknown destination.
According to the report of the SBU, the journalist collaborated with the well-known blogger Anatoly Shariy. This was the reason for the interest in her by the special services, who called the journalist “an assistant to one of the pro-Russian propagandists.”
She was released after a “prophylactic” conversation.
A journalist was abducted in the center of Kiev
In the center of Kiev, unknown men pushed a young woman into a car, who, according to preliminary information, is a journalist of one of the electronic publications, reports UNN [Ukrainian National News]. Passers-by tried to prevent the abduction, but they did not succeed. In the bag, which the girl threw out of the car window, witnesses found the identity card of a journalist of one of the electronic publications.
UNN asked the SBU for comments, but the press secretary of the agency, Elena Hitlyanskaya, said that she did not know anything about the alleged detention of a journalist by members of the Security Service.
Russian journalist Anna Kurbatova was today grabbed on the street in the center of Kiev by unknown people and later deported, according to her employer Russian state television’s Channel One. Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said authorities have banned the journalist from entering Ukraine for three years.
Kurbatova’s deportation comes days after the SBU barred two Spanish freelance journalistsfrom entering Ukraine for three years over reporting that allegedly contradicted Ukraine’s national interest.
Channel One said Kurbatova was preparing a report on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine at the time of her detention.
Ukrainian authorities should immediately release freelance journalist Vasily Muravitsky and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Muravitsky, a reporter and columnist based in Zhytomyr, has been detained since August 1 on anti-state charges brought by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), according to news reports.
Correspondent of the Russian TV channel VGTRK Tamara Nersesyan was expelled from Ukraine.
According to Neresyan, the reason for her deportation was her report about the music festival Banderstadt, which was held in the Volyn region. “In this report, we talked about how unobtrusively Ukrainian politicians glorify the accomplices of fascism – by naming festivals after them, or having artists go out in T-shirts with the depiction of these accomplices – I’m talking about Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich,” Nersesian added.
After a series of threats, attacks and criminal prosecutions against individual journalists and entire publications criticizing the current government, there are rumors that Ukrainian political scientists will be the next target of the ongoing persecution of the opposition.
[an excerpt of the longer article published by Strana.ua]
It is rumored that the special services attract representatives of radical nationalist organizations to “work” on the most obstinate critics of power.
A veteran of the anti-terrorist operation in Donbass ATO, and now the owner of one of the channels on YouTube, Alexander Medinsky, told the online news publication “Strana” that authorities tried in this way to stop his activities.
“I am not a professional blogger, I fought for Ukraine and I consider myself a patriot, but I criticize the government and representatives of one of the radical nationalist organizations announced a reward of 100 thousand hryvnia for information about my whereabouts. Unknown people abducted my assistant and took him to the forest, where they imitated his execution, ” Medinsky said,
Today he is in hiding, and asserts that attacks on the so-called “leaders of public opinion” who allow themselves criticism of power are being conducted not only in the capital. As an example, Medinsky cites the story of his fellow entrepreneur, who lives in one of the regional centers of Ukraine. The man allowed himself a series of negative assessments of the current regime in social networks and was immediately placed under attention of the authorities. “He had several calls to the SBU, and there he was told in a friendly way that criticism toward power was not taken well there. “After the third such meeting with urgent admonitions, he deleted himself from social networks,” says the blogger.
Search of journalists of the online media outlet “Strana.ua”: SBU is looking for a flash drive containing a state classified information
“They are searching to the editorial office and homes of two more journalists. And verbally, the SBU officials say they are looking for a flash drive, ” the editor-in-chief Guzhva explained.
SBU arrested a Kiev-based blogger: Employees of the SBU arrested in Kiev an administrator of several groups in social networks, considered in the special services as anti-Ukrainian.
“Carrying out tasks given by his curators, the so-called press secretary and an active member of the anti-Ukrainian separatist organization, he created an extensive network of web resources and groups in social networks that he used for calls to seize state power, dissemination of anti-Ukrainian materials, support of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” the SBU press service said.
Zhytomyr-based blogger-journalist Vasily Muravitsky, who worked for the Russian media, faces 15 years in prison.
In Zhytomyr region, the Security Service of Ukraine announced that Muravitsky is suspected of high treason, as he allegedly published anti-Ukrainian materials at the direction of Russian curators. The Security Service of Ukraine believes that he [Vasily Muravitsky] acted to the detriment of the information security of Ukraine.
Among other things, Muravitsky has been the editor-in-chief of a Komsomol newspaper Novaya Volna (“New Wave”).
In Zhytomyr, SBU officers search the house of Vasily Muravitsky, a former local journalist who is now actively publishing anti-Ukrainian materials and commenting on events in Ukraine for Russian media.
A pre-trial investigation is currently underway, being carried out by the Investigation Department of the Office of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Zhytomyr region. For the commission of particularly serious crimes Muravitsky is threatened with punishment of up to 15 years of imprisonment with confiscation of property.
The Military Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police searched the office of the media company “Vesti.” Activities of the editorial office of the newspaper, website and radio are blocked.
Earlier, the editor-in-chief of “Vesti” was Igor Guzhva – the current editor-in-chief of the publication “Country.ua”, where a search was also recently carried out.
On May 16, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine formally introduced administrative responsibility for wearing in public or demonstration of St. George ribbons.
According to the approved bill, authored by People’s Deputy Anton Gerashchenko, there will be a fine of 50-150 non-taxable minimums (850-2550 UAH) for public use, wearing or demonstrating a St. George ribbon or its image. In case of a repeated violation, the fine increases to 150-300 non-taxable minimums (2,550-5,100 UAH).
More than 50 thousand Ukrainians fall under surveillance by security agencies every year, – official data.
The President of Ukraine, Pyotr Poroshenko, introduced the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to impose sanctions against social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, as well as the search system Yandex.
Human Rights Watch condemns the ban on Russian websites: this is a terrible blow to freedom of speech in Ukraine
The prohibition of Soviet symbols is a violation of the right to freedom of expression, and the detention of peaceful demonstrators is a step in restricting freedom of speech and peaceful assembly by the Ukrainian authorities. This opinion is held by the human rights defenders of the World-wide Body “Amnesty International”.
“We believe that the Ukrainian government is obliged to ensure freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly for all citizens. All detained demonstrators must be released. We also demand an effective and impartial investigation of all cases of violence during the demonstrations (held in Ukraine on May 9, – ed.),” the organization said in its statement.
Odessa State Administration sent a circular to the educational institutions of the city, in which they asked their leaders to conduct “educational work” with students about the undesirability of their participation in mass actions and rallies.
The document was sent to the educational institutions of the city on April 6 – on the eve of the Day of Liberation of Odessa. Officials are asked to “conduct organizational, explanatory and preventive work in educational institutions and with parents’ committees, during which they should inform every student about the inadmissibility of his or her taking part in mass protest actions.”
Comment: In Ukraine in general and in Odessa in particular, in the past three years, only protests and oppositional actions are considered “illegal” in the official press, and judging by their reaction, by law enforcers. Brutal and frankly fascist demonstrations of Azov, the Right Sector and other Banderites are completely legitimate and untouchable, contrary to the legislation that has been adopted, where there is a direct and unambiguous ban on the propaganda of racism, Nazism and fascism.
The main member of oppostion of the Ukrainian city of Nikolaev is to be held accountable for statements he made about “Bandera” followers.
Scandalous statements made in February 2014 by Igor Dyatlov, who was the head of the regional council at the time, about a possibility of storming the Mykolayiv regional administration by “Bandera followers from out of town” are subjected today to linguistic expertise. Criminal proceedings against the ex-head of the regional council Igor Dyatlov have not yet been advanced.
Employees of the State Border Service of Ukraine offer citizens to inform the authorities about persons who visited Crimea in violation of the procedure provided for by Ukrainian legislation.
We are talking about people who entered Crimea or left its territory not through official checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Russian border, but in some other way: for example, by air or through the Kerch Strait. Henceforth, anyone can anonymously report such violators using a special form on the website of the State Border Service. Messages are absolutely anonymous.
Who broadcasts Russian channels, is a traitor of the motherland: the TV provider in Kherson was searched by SBU: the owner of the cable television LLC “Tornado” in Genichesk received a fine in 4 thousand hryvnia, as well as a denunciation to the Security Service.
This decision was taken by the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting that punished the provider for retransmitting un-adapted Russian TV channels. As reported in the Kherson office, at the signal of a vigilant citizen of Genichesk, the National Council conducted an unscheduled inspection of the provider and found that the company retransmits 15 Russian TV channels that are banned in Ukraine. This list contains musical, entertainment, children’s and other TV channels of various types: Chanson-TV, STS, TV-3, 360 °, Mir (Peace), Moskva Doverie (Moscow Trust), TNT, Match, Rodnoye kino (Native Cinema)”,” Nashe novoe kino (Our new cinema)”,” Che “,” Petersburg 5 “,” Domashnee (Homemade)”,” Carousel “,” Russkiy roman (Russian novel)”.
Also, the provider was accused of not providing a universal software service to its subscribers in full. The audience is not shown the local TV channels “Scythia”, “Kherson plus” as well as the all-Ukrainian channels “Sovet (Council)” and “Culture”.
The prosecutor’s office of the Odessa region published photographs of anti-Ukrainian literature, allegedly published by members of a group suspected of preparing the abduction of Alexei Goncharenko.
In the message of the prosecutor’s office it is said that this literature, we quote, “is aimed at the propaganda of national strife between Ukrainians, Russians and Jews”, which the expert has been already able to confirm.
However, in the published photos, there is nothing that points to the anti-Ukrainian or anti-Semitic nature of the seized literature. Among other things, the photo shows the book “Odessa Khatyn’s Bells”, dedicated to the memory of the dead on May 2. The book was published as early as in 2014 by the efforts of relatives and friends of the victims of May 2. The second book is devoted entirely to the problems of Ukrainian nationalism.
Investigators of the SBU in the Odessa region opened criminal proceedings in the case of the Odessa TV journalist Grigory Kvasnyuk who authors a program “Pravda” (Truth).
As the local intelligence service reports on February 15, the TV-program by the citizen of Odessa «has repeatedly been an object of expert research on the presence of public calls for changing the borders of Ukraine during the years 2014-2016.”
“The latest issue of the author’s program did not go unheeded by the security services,” the SBU notes, adding that the criminal proceedings were opened on the grounds of part 2 of article 110 of the Criminal Code (encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine).
We remind that earlier, the head of the organization “Public Security Council”, the activist of “EuroMaidan” Mark Gordienko addressed the central and local leadership of the SBU complaining about the fact that Kvasniuk “was conducting separatist propaganda.”
The Internet newspaper “Strana (Country)” informs that the Security Service of Ukraine intends in the near future to carry out searches in the editorial office, as well as that the special service frames up criminal cases to arrest the editors of the newspaper.
This is stated in the official statement of the Internet newspaper. “Dozens of people have already been questioned on these cases; during many hours of interrogation, they are trying to draw testimony out of them against the editor-in-chief, Igor Guzhva. The editorial board considers these actions as an attempt to paralyze the work of our publication in order to prevent the emergence of new resonant materials on corruption in the highest echelons of power,” the statement said.
As the editors note, over the past year the publication published a lot of resonant articles that caused discontent with the leadership of the state, as a result – journalists have faced an increased attention to them by the special services.
The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting obliged Ukrainian providers to stop transmitting the Russian television channel Dozhd for a month.
According to Interfax-Ukraine, the reason for this decision was the fact that, despite its opposition to the Russian authorities, the channel does not recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and also broadcasts Russian advertisments.