#Commentary of Elena Melnick on violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine
Journalists were attacked at least 90 times in Ukraine in 2017, including the use of weapons. Moreover, according to the research of the Institute of Mass Information, 274 cases of violation of freedom of speech were recorded in the past year.
We observe a boomerang effect in action – a revolution devours those who selflessly kindled its fire not so long ago. It is possible to ‘congratulate’ journalists – their technologies work, the society is filled with hatred and aggression.
Let us recall the most significant cases of 2017. First of all, it is the detention of journalists, in particular Vasily Muravitsky, as well as Dmitry Vasilets and Evgeny Timonin.
What are the results of the investigation of these cases? Muravitsky is still under arrest. On February 15, his case was again reviewed by the Korolevsky district court of Zhitomir. All the journalist and his lawyer’s petitions concerning the change of pre-trial restrictions were rejected. It should be reminded that Muravitsky was arrested in the hospital right in front of his wife’s eyes, who had just given birth.
The Zhytomyr court has not given any response either to the conclusion of the International Society for Human Rights concerning this case, which refers to the systematic violation of the rights of Muravitsky to a fair trial, or to the statements of the international human rights organization Amnesty International. The Ukrainian authorities demonstrate that it is above the law and the attempts of the journalist to defend himself in the legal field have not yielded any results yet.
The situation with respect to the cases of Vasilets and Timonin is even sadder. They were sentenced to nine years of imprisonment. They have now appealed and are awaiting the Appeal Court, which will take place on February 21. However, this year is not lagging behind the past one on scandalous attacks on journalists – blocking of “Vesti’s” website and the escape of Editor-in-Chief of “Strana.ua” Igor Guzhva from Ukraine to Austria swayed a media scene.
Today, I also recall how the Donetsk Regional Union of Journalists, which moved to Mariupol, excluded everyone who had stayed in Donetsk to fulfill their professional duty. This happened with the tacit agreement of the entire journalistic community of Ukraine. We should not forget about the role of Ukrainian media in warmongering in the country.
Everyone knows the quotation of German pastor Martin Niemöller, a prisoner of Dachau: ʺWhen they came for the communists, I remained silent, I was not a communist. When they came for the social democrats, I remained silent, I was not a social democrat. When they came for trade unionists, I did not speak out, I was not a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out”.
Is there anyone else in Ukraine who can stand up for Ukrainian journalists?
Elena Melnick, the DPR People’s Council deputy