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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid