Opposition activists carry the Ukrainian national flag during an action of protest against the current regime in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

4.5.2020

Dokumentation: 2020 Annual Report by the partner organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (Ausschnitt)

Im Jahr 2019 gab es eine besorgniserregende Anzahl tätlicher Angriffe auf Journalisten in der Ukraine. Die Behörden ergreifen jedoch keine ausreichenden Maßnahmen, viele Taten bleiben ungesühnt, die Täter werden nicht belangt.

20. Juli 2019: Am dritten Jahrestag der noch immer unaufgeklärten Ermordung des Journalisten Pavel Sheremet veranstalten Kollegen und Freunde ein Gedenken am Ort seines Todes in Kiev. Das Bild zeigt Frauenhände mit dunklem Nagellack, die ein Poster von Pavel Sheremet halten. Auf dem Bild steht in kyrillischer Schrift: Wer hat Pavel getötet?20. Juli 2019: Am dritten Jahrestag der noch immer unaufgeklärten Ermordung des Journalisten Pavel Sheremet veranstalten Kollegen und Freunde ein Gedenken am Ort seines Todes in Kiev. (© picture-alliance, NurPhoto)

Ukraine

A worrying number of cases of violence against journalists in Ukraine leading to injuries were reported in 2019.

As of end of 2019 there were 10 active alerts on Ukraine, not including the regions of Crimea and Donbass which are outside the Ukrainian government’s control. 11 alerts were submitted to the Platform in 2019. Ukraine has responded to all but one alert.

In 2019, presidential and parliamentary elections took place in Ukraine. According to the OSCE, private media outlets showed clear biases toward certain candidates in both the presidential and parliamentary elections.

In several instances, politicians and public figures were behind the attacks. On 20 June 2019, investigative reporter Vadym Komarov died from injuries following a vicious attack that left him in a coma. The attack came the day after he announced he would publish material showing that two city councillors were involved in extortion. In their reply to the Platform, the Ukrainian authorities said that "all investigative measures” were being taken to identify the perpetrators, but no suspects have been identified to date. There was also a rise in the number of physical attacks against women journalists: according to the National Union of Journalists, as many as 28 women were victims of physical attacks in the first 10 months of 2019.

None of those responsible for the deaths of the eight journalists killed in Ukraine since 1992 have so far been brought to justice. The Partner organisations await progress following the announcement of the arrest of five suspects in relation to the 2016 killing of Pavel Sheremet.

Of the 10 alerts filed on Ukraine in 2019, at least four related to incidents reportedly perpetrated by far-right extremist groups. In June and July, four suspects—at least one of whom is reported to have links to far-right extremism—were identified in the investigation into the life-threatening attack on Vadim Makaryuk. The suspects were placed under house arrest until mid-September, at which point their periods of detention ended. On 15 September, one of the suspects was pictured chatting and drinking coffee with police officers in Kharkiv.

Crimea and eastern Ukraine [1]

The fact that comparatively few alerts were recorded last year in Crimea does not indicate any lessening of the stifling of media freedom in the region, but rather the difficulty in verifying information in the area.

Two new alerts that relate specifically to threats to media freedom in Crimea were posted to the Platform in 2019. They concern four cases of ethnic Crimean Tatar journalists who were arrested on terrorism-related charges. Both alerts were filed under Ukraine. However, given that the Ukrainian authorities have no effective control over the territory, the partner organisations saw it necessary to highlight separately the conditions for independent media outlets working in territory de facto controlled by the Russian Federation.

The fact that comparatively few alerts were recorded last year in Crimea does not indicate any lessening of the stifling of media freedom in the region, but rather the difficulty in verifying information in the area.

The four detained journalists are Nariman Memedeminov, Osman Arifmemetov, Remzi Bekirov and Rustem Sheikhaliev. Memedeminov, known as the founding father of civic journalism in Crimea, was detained in March 2018, but the partner organisations were not aware of his case until October 2019 when a military court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced the journalist to two years and six months in prison. Osman Arifmemetov, Remzi Bekirov and Rustem Sheikhaliev have been awaiting trial since their arrest on 27 March 2019.

The four journalists reported on human rights violations by Russian authorities in Crimea and on Crimea’s indigenous Crimean Tatar population. The Russian authorities have prosecuted them for their alleged links to "Hizb ut-Tahrir”, an Islamist group that operates legally in Ukraine but is considered a terrorist organisation in the Russian Federation. Arifmemetov, Bekirov and Sheikhaliev face prison terms of up to 20 years if convicted.

Following the Russian Federation’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the authorities passed a law requiring media outlets to register with the media regulator Roskomnadzor, imposing severe penalties for those continuing to broadcast without registration. Most Crimean Tatar-language media outlets were not given licenses despite submitting multiple applications. The number of media outlets in Crimea has shrunk by more than 90% since the annexation, and Russian authorities have restricted access to Ukrainian TV and other media outlets.

The Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine also maintained harsh controls over free speech. In August 2019, members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic handed the Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev, detained since June 2017, a prison sentence of 15 years after finding him guilty of "espionage, extremism, and public calls to violate the territory’s integrity".

The Ukrainian authorities condemned Aseev’s detention. On 29 December 2019, Aseev was released as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

Quelle: Council of Europe: Hands off press freedom: Attacks on media in Europe must not become a new normal, March 2020, https://rm.coe.int/annual-report-en-final-23-april-2020/16809e39dd.

Gemeinsam herausgegeben werden die Ukraine-Analysen von der Forschungsstelle Osteuropa an der Universität Bremen, der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde e.V., dem Deutschen Polen-Institut, dem Leibniz-Institut für Agrarentwicklung in Transformationsökonomien, dem Leibniz- Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung und dem Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien (ZOiS) gGmbH. Die bpb veröffentlicht sie als Lizenzausgabe.

Fußnoten

1.
Areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine