#Official Commentary of Ekaterina Martynova on condition of media’s freedom in Ukraine

Ukraine is not the country where mass media act freely, where journalists perform the professional duty without being afraid for their life. Without declaration of war Ukraine has placed all mass media at service to military propaganda.

It is no coincidence that in the report of the international non-governmental organization Freedom House on the state of freedom of the media in 2015 Ukraine is called the country with partial freedom of the media. It entered the top three “partly free” states of Eurasia. The first place was taken by Georgia, and the third one – by Moldova. In total there are 41% of “partly free” countries, “not free” – 46%, and countries with a fully free press – 13%.

Again, this data is from Freedom House international non-governmental organization. Perhaps the representatives of the “Freedom House” know little about media freedom in Ukraine, and therefore placed it in the section of countries with partial media’s freedom. In my opinion, this is not true. Ukraine should be placed in the section of countries with no free media.

Firstly, Ukraine prosecutes journalists who express their opinion which is different from the official one. Secondly, journalists end up in prison or being destroyed because of this opinion. Thirdly, Ukraine does not hide the facts – on the contrary, they put them on display to intimidate other journalists.

It’s no secret how to intimidate journalists in Ukraine. On the website “Mirotvoretz (Peacemaker)” there was personal information about more than four and a half thousand journalists accredited in the Donetsk People’s Republic. This means only one thing: life threat due to execution of their professional duties. West was astonished by the appearance of such a list, but everything was limited to this.

However, “Mirotvoretz” site was not closed, but, moreover, was registered as mass media. “From today, the project “Mirotvoretz” becomes the electronic media! Thus, all data disseminated by the “Mirotvoretz” subjects to all the provisions of the law “On information”,” Anton Gerashchenko wrote on his Facebook page on August 3, 2016.

It is no secret also that journalists in Ukraine end up in prison or being destroyed for their professional activities. The famous West Ukrainian journalist Ruslan Kotsaba has spent nearly a year and a half in prison for his video message “I am against mobilization”. Journalist clearly expressed his civil position about the fact that, until the martial law in the country is declared, every Ukrainian can ignore the call in the army, the call to go to war in Donbass.

The Court of Ivano-Frankivsk sentenced Kotsaba to three and a half years in prison for obstructing the legitimate activities of the armed forces of Ukraine during the special period. Only Regional Court of Appeal completely justified the journalist of all charges.

I must say that Ruslan Kotsaba got off light. Oles Buzina was killed for being opposed to mobilization as well. Both Ukrainian journalist initially protested not against war as such, but only against mobilization. But one of them was killed because of it, and the other one was kept in prison. I wonder why, after all this, the “Freedom House” has put Ukraine in the section of countries with partial freedom of the media. The murder and the prison – it does not mean “partly”, it’s always concrete!

Finally, Ukraine has no intention to hide these facts or somehow change their attitude to the suppression of free thinking in the environment of the journalists. The lack of criticism of the authorities cannot be related to free media in the Western sense. The slogan “Ukraine is Europe” after such an attitude is only a declaration, and nothing more. According to Ukrainian media researcher Tanya Lokot, Ukrainian journalism only serves the government and the elite. “That’s how the most of the Ukrainian news agencies and the media have been acting for many years,” she says.

Only some officials find the courage to protest against the current the press suppression system in Ukraine. Deputy Minister of Information Policy Tatiana Popova resigned due to pressure of journalists. “I am leaving the government. I do not agree with the attacks on journalists and freedom of speech on the part of some politicians and political organizations. I cannot accept the lack of the appropriate response to these attacks,” Popova wrote on her Facebook page.

But this is only a drop in the ocean. In my opinion, there is no freedom of speech in Ukraine, but there is dictatorial control over the media. Implementation of the European aspirations of the “Maidan” is at the zero level. The rights of Ukrainian citizens and the rights of the EU citizens are two mutually exclusive concepts. Ukrainian Euporeans found themselves not in the EU, but in the stone age.

Ekaterina Martyanova, the DRP People’s Council deputy

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