News / Europe

Harassment and Misinformation Against Ukraine Journalists

Armed men check journalists documents around the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of Simferopol March 1, 2014.
Armed men check journalists documents around the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of Simferopol March 1, 2014.
Cecily Hilleary
The past week has been an unnerving week for journalists working in Crimea.  On Sunday, about 30 masked men stormed and briefly occupied [see video] the Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism in Simferopol, an agency which trains journalists and produces investigative TV reports. 

The following day, an unidentified individual assaulted Tatyana Rikhtun, chief editor of the Sevastopol-based news website 911Sevastopol, as she was filming Russian soldiers who had surrounded the Sevastopol headquarters of the Ukrainian navy. Her attacker also seized her camera.
 
The European Federation of Journalists says 167 journalists have been injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the political crisis in November 2013, 42 of them in mid-January alone. 

One journalist, Vyacheslaqv Vereymi, died February 20 after a brutal attack, and untold numbers of journalists report being threatened, harassed and intimidated—among them, reporters from Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.  
 
“Certainly it is a challenge to cover events in Ukraine nowadays,” said Maryana Drach, director of RFERL’s Ukrainian service.  “Our Crimean correspondent has recently faced threats. Our Kyiv colleague and video journalist who was sent to Kharkiv was beaten by pro-Russian activists while he was conducting a live broadcast. 

"Then they took him from the occupied regional administration building to the monument of Lenin in Kharkiv and forced him to kneel down and kiss the Russian symbol--the St. George’s ribbon which commemorates Russians who fought and died in the Second World War," she said.
 
Drach relates another incident involving a RFERL stringer in Donetsk conducting man-on-the-street interviews. 
 
“She saw a group of people were beating a journalist colleague, and when she approached them, she herself was beaten and her camera was broken,” Drach said.  “There have been three incidents with RFERL Ukrainian service correspondents within the last week alone, so I’m seriously concerned about the safety of my colleagues.”
 
Drach says a group of RFERL reporters in Crimea were asked by locals, which side of the crisis they supported. 

“When they told them, ‘We are journalists,’” Drach said, “they were told that if they weren’t ‘pro-Russian,’ they weren’t ‘journalists.’ So this is the atmosphere in which journalists must now work in Crimea.”
 
On Thursday, independent journalist Dimiter Kenarov, reporting in Crimea for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, tweeted, “Masked gunmen just broke in a TV studio. Put a gun to my head and then took my phone away. I'm fine.”  He later posted video of the incident (see below)
 



Silencing media outlets
 
Monday, Crimea's State Television and Radio forced off the air a popular independent broadcaster Chernomorskaya Teleradiokompaniya, or Black Sea television, leaving only the state broadcaster operating in the entire autonomous republic.  
 
Also this week, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that  on the orders of the pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea, two privately-owned Ukrainian broadcasters, Channel 5 and Channel 1+1, were forced to stop broadcasting terrestrially, and Russian state television is now broadcasting on their frequencies.
 
Countering Misinformation
 
With Crimean media effectively under Russian control, Ukrainians have begun organizing to counter what they say is a flow of misinformation FakeControl.org and StopFake.org are websites that seek to dispel myths and misinformation being propagated by Russian media outlets.

The Ukrainian Crisis Media Center (UCMC) launched March 4 with the stated mission of providing the international community objective information about events in Ukraine and “threats to national security”
 
“We are a group of different professionals from different fields in international relations in corporate and public communications, in translations," said spokesperson Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, executive director of Yalta European Strategy (YES), the largest social institution of public diplomacy in Eastern Europe. 

"And we feel that Ukraine is under a serious security threat of losing its sovereignty and territorial integrity and really needs an additional serious voice delivering the message to media outside Ukraine and also to people in Ukraine’s southeastern regions and Crimea,” she said.
 
Members donate their time and expertise, says Klympush-Tsintsadze, to make sure that information gets out—on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

In addition, they have rented a conference hall in a Kyiv hotel near the site where so many protesters died on January 20, where they will host press briefings by Ukrainian authorities, academics, diplomats, religious leaders—“people, “ Klympush-Tsintsadze,
said.

She added they will include those “who have serious weight in society--Crimeans, Tatars, Russians, Jews, Christians--who will explain what is going on in the country.” 
 
In Washington, U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator Paige Alexander said her agency was working with the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and local journalists to help ensure the free flow of information around the country.
 
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media warned that Ukraine faces a crisis of media freedom. 
 
Speaking to reporters in Kyiv Friday following visits to Crimea and Simferopol,  Dunja Mijatović, the top OSCE official on media freedom  called on responsible parties to stop the war on information in Ukraine and work to ensure the safety of reporters across the country.
 
She also cautioned that Tatar journalists with Crimean state media are under political pressure from their superiors and that TV officials allow access to information only to those considered ‘loyal’ – or pro-Russian -- journalists.

You May Like

10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudi-led Airstrikes Use Banned Cluster Bombs

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

Hopes Fade of Finding Survivors of Nepal Earthquake

US military aircraft, heavy equipment and air traffic controllers arrive in Nepal to help manage growing piles of relief supplies clogging Kathmandu airport More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs