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29 July, 2013 18:18   ▪  

Media Expert: Journalists are a potential threat to this regime

The growing number of attacks and assaults against journalists grows in Ukraine as the 2015 presidential campaign gets closer, comments Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Media Law Institute.

“Our NGO, just like others, has lately been recording more and more cases of violence used against journalists. Violence from law enforcement authorities or their intentional passivity when journalists are attacked in rallies is concerning. This is linked to the nearing 2015 presidential race,” Shevchenko says.   

In his opinion, the situation will only deteriorate as “more and more rallies will take place while both citizens, and journalists will have less and less protection.” 
“Journalists are a potential threat to this regime because they report true information. Obviously, the government is not happy about it, hence the reluctance to protect them. Instead, they prefer to show Western countries that they comply with the legislation that does not actually exist,” he claims. 

Roman Kabachiy, a journalist and expert of the Institute of Mass Information, shares Shevchenko’s opinion: “Declarations of the country’s leaders that the beating of journalists will be investigated is nothing but attempts to demonstrate the West that they are working in this direction. Meanwhile, the reality is quite different: journalists find it harder to work, attacks against them grow more frequent. However, violence against journalists is not investigated. Even the case about inactivity of the police during the attack against journalists at the May 18 rally was closed down.

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In fact, we live in a parallel world where the journalists have found themselves between society and the government; they are the victims of the situation. The only explanation to this is the nearing 2015 election when control grows tougher on all fronts, mass media are being bought by people close to the Family etc. On one hand, journalists are intimidated. On the other, pro-government media lure journalists to work for them,” he adds. 

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According to Kabachiy, “the Ukrainian police feels impudent which signals of the respective instructions from above. The only thing that can change this is journalist solidarity. We can see how it worked in the May 18 situation.” 

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Over the past three months, international organizations, including Freedom House, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Ukrainian Helsinki Group, have called on the Ukrainian government to protect journalists nine times.

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