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Growing Concerns About Press Freedom in Ukraine

Growing Concerns About Press Freedom in Ukrainei
March 11, 2014 12:52 AM
There is growing concern that Russia or Russian surrogates are trying to restrict independent media coverage of unfolding events in Ukraine. Numerous incidents of harassment of international journalists and a Russian take over of Ukrainian broadcast frequencies raises alarms. Brian Padden reports.
Brian Padden
There is growing concern that Russia or Russian surrogates are trying to restrict independent media coverage of unfolding events in Ukraine, including Crimea.  There have been numerous incidents of harassment of international journalists, and Russia recently took over Ukrainian broadcast frequencies, raising alarms that Moscow is trying to silence opposition voices.

At one point during a pro-Russia demonstration in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, protesters turned their anger toward Voice of America correspondent Daniel Schearf and his translator.  Shearf described what happened.

“A large crowd encircled us, you know maybe three, four, five people deep. And we were obviously surrounded,” he said.

In this case, the verbal assault did not turn violent but, as seen in one YouTube video, a Bulgarian journalist in Crimea was attacked by masked men as he tried to take pictures of them removing equipment from a TV studio.

Nina Ognianova with the Committee to Protect Journalists says that journalist organizations are documenting an increasing number of acts of intimidation and physical attacks against those covering the crisis in Ukraine.

“Men who in several most recent events have kidnapped at least two journalists, assaulted several reporters, kept reporters at gunpoint and obstructed them from entering the region,” she said.

Russian state television also has taken over the broadcast frequency used by Crimea’s Black Sea TV, as well as two other stations in Kyiv.

Ognianova says the clampdown on the media makes it more difficult to find a peaceful solution to the crisis as pro-Russian forces exert more control over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

“A plurality of views is crucial in this time of crisis," she said. "If there is going to be a conflict resolution, this is the only way that this conflict could be resolved.”

Dunja Mijatovic with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also has urged all parties to permit journalists to report safely and without fear of reprisal.

"The most important thing is that you stay safe and this is my message to everyone: 'Hands off media, hands off journalists, law enforcement agencies make sure that they are safe,'" she said  "And that would be a message from the OSCE representative of the media."

These advocates for freedom of the press say silencing media is not acceptable, especially in times of crisis.

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Comment Sorting
by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
March 11, 2014 9:52 AM
Let history play its part again,its only when the good fail to act the bad wins,Russia is an aggressive nation that should be made to fear the international community,history remembers the Crimean War (1854-1855) For centuries, one central goal of Russian foreign policy was to obtain a warm water port in the south--namely, at the Bosporus Straits and the Strait of the Dardanelles, the small waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. In 1854, the decaying Ottoman Empire controlled that essential waterway and Russia sought increased power in this region.

In 1853, St. Petersburg demanded that the Ottoman Empire recognize Russia's right to protect Eastern Orthodox believers in Turkey. When Turkey refused, Russia sent troops into Ottoman territory. Fearing increased Russian power and an upset to the balance of power on the Continent, Great Britain and France declared war on Russia on March 28, 1854. Russia fared well against its weaker neighbor to the south, destroying the Turkish fleet off the coast of Sinope, a port city in north-central Asia Minor. However, in September 1854, the British and French laid siege to Sevastopol, Russia's heavily fortified chief naval base in the Black Sea, lying on the Crimean peninsula.

After just under one year of constant battle, the Russian abandoned the fortress, blowing up their fortifications and sinking their own ships. Meanwhile, at nearby Balaklava, British troops charged down a narrow valley that was flanked by Russian guns on both sides. Nearly every British soldier fell dead in what came to be called the Valley of Death. The name of the British group was the Light Brigade, giving rise to the famous Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade." Russia's new tsar, Alexander II, sued for peace in 1856. In the resulting Peace of Paris, Russia relinquished its claim as Christian protector in Turkey, the Black Sea was neutralized, and the balance of power was maintained.

by: me from: hete
March 11, 2014 8:25 AM
It's all lie. He said that US helps neo nazis (bandits) by supplying them money and they breach their own law

by: Pavel from: Russia
March 11, 2014 6:13 AM
None of journalists undestand fully what is going on in Ukraine. I consider all their activity as bringing instability to the region. Journalists have capability to influance on a situation but they use it for worse.

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