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Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018”

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This report on the observance of political and civil rights and freedoms in Ukraine in 2018 was prepared by the "Uspishna Varta" Ukrainian human rights platform.
The report is based on the monitoring of the observance of key political rights and freedoms, namely:

● The right to freedom of speech and opinion
Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 18, 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● The right to freedom of thought
Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● The right to freedom of association
Article 36-37 of the Constitution of Ukraine; Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● The right to freedom of assembly
Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine; Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● The right to political participation
Article 38 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The monitoring assesses the observance of rights and freedoms in the territory controlled by the government of Ukraine. The human rights platform "Uspishna Varta" has no mandate to operate on the territories of Crimea and Donbass that are not under the control of the government of Ukraine to make an objective assessment of the human rights situation in these territories.
In the framework of the report there is analysis of legislative regulation and law enforcement practices in the context of government policy, as well as the status of social respect for these rights and freedoms in Ukraine in 2018.
The report is based on data obtained by the human rights platform "Uspishna Varta" through conducting detailed interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations and infringements, experts and human rights defenders, as well as through carrying out activities to assist in the protection of human rights in documented cases. Among them - the monitoring of trials, the advocacy of work with the duty bearers on the observance of human rights, non-governmental organizations, and the media.In addition, the report uses data collected by other non-governmental organizations and the media.

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Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018”

  1. 1. 1 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019
  2. 2. 2 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 This report on the observance of political and civil rights and freedoms in Ukraine in 2018 was prepared by the "Uspishna Varta" Ukrainian human rights platform. The report is based on the monitoring of the observance of key political rights and freedoms, namely: ● The right to freedom of speech and opinion Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 18, 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ● The right to freedom of thought Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ● The right to freedom of association Article 36-37 of the Constitution of Ukraine; Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ● The right to freedom of assembly Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine; Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ● The right to political participation Article 38 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The monitoring assesses the observance of rights and freedoms in the territory controlled by the government of Ukraine. The human rights platform "Uspishna Varta" has no mandate to operate on the territories of Crimea and Donbass that are not under the control of the government of Ukraine to make an objective assessment of the human rights situation in these territories. In the framework of the report there is analysis of legislative regulation and law enforcement practices in the context of government policy, as well as the status of social respect for these rights and freedoms in Ukraine in 2018. The report is based on data obtained by the human rights platform "Uspishna Varta" through conducting detailed interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations and infringements, experts and human rights defenders, as well as through carrying out activities to assist in the protection of human rights in documented cases. Among them - the monitoring of trials, the advocacy of work with the duty bearers on the observance of human rights, non-governmental organizations, and the media.In addition, the report uses data collected by other non-governmental organizations and the media.
  3. 3. 3 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 THE OVERALL SITUATION WITH THE OBSERVANCE OF POLITICAL RIGHTS IN UKRAINE 4 THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION 7 Legislative regulation 8 Government policy 12 Fines and deprivation of licenses for TV and radio channels 12 Restrictions imposed on freedom of speech and opinion by law enforcement bodies 13 Censorship of journalists and media agencies by the Security Service of Ukraine 13 Searches in media outlets and interference in the work of journalists 14 Deportation and non-admission of foreign journalists 15 Arrests of journalists and bloggers 16 Restricting Freedom of Expression and Information Exchange on the Internet 21 The status of societal respect 23 Physical violence and attacks on journalists and media agencies 23 Hate speech. “Mirotvorets” website 27 General recommendations 28 THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE 29 State interference in religious affairs 30 Legislative regulation 32 Government policy 32 Discrimination when registering religious organizations 32 Law enforcement pressure on religious communities 34 The status of societal respect 35 Captures of temples and places of worship 35 Physical violence and attacks on temples and religious communities 37 General recommendations 40 THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLIES AND ASSOCIATIONS 41 Legislative regulation 42 Government policy 42 Ban on political parties 42 The exertion of pressure by law enforcement bodies on parties and organizations 43 Criminal prosecution of participants of peaceful assemblies and actions 45 The use of force against the participants of peaceful rallies and actions 47 The status of societal respect 49 Attacks by right-wing radical groups against the offices of organizations and peaceful assemblies 49 Physical violence against community activists and human rights defenders 54 The existence of armed formations in ultra-right parties 57 General recommendations 60 THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN POLITICAL LIFE 61 Legislative regulation 62 Restriction of voting rights 62 Toughening responsibility for violations of electoral legislation 63 Restrictions on the right to access public service 64 Government policy 65 Renewal of the Central Election Commission 65 Holding territorial community elections 65 Preparations for the 2019 presidential elections 66 General recommendations 67 MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS CASES 68 75 ABOUT THE “USPISHNA VARTA” HUMAN RIGHTS PLATFORM 75
  4. 4. 4 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 THE OVERALL SITUATION WITH THE OBSERVANCE OF POLITICAL RIGHTS IN UKRAINE In 2018, the trends in systematic violations of politicaland civil rights and freedoms persisted in Ukraine. Against the background of the military conflict in the East of the country, measures to limit rights were justified by the political leadership of the state by referring to the need to combat Russian aggression and separatism within the state. In fact, this restriction was aimed primarily at the political opponents of the current government, as well as organizations and social groups that broadcast alternative views and values in relation to the current government. According to the results of monitoring in 2018, the "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform recorded 197 cases of violations of political and civil rights and freedoms. In 59% of recorded cases (116) the right to freedom of speech and opinion was violated; in 54 cases (27%) - the right to association and peaceful assembly; and in 27 cases (14%) – the right to freedom of conscience and religion. Journalists, bloggers, and individual media companies (46% of all cases), as well as public activists, human rights defenders (18%), political parties (13%), and religious organizations and communities (12%) remain the most vulnerable to violations of their rights in Ukraine. It should be emphasized that the facts and cases of the rights of journalists and the media being violated are, as a rule, widely covered in the media space. But other categories of persons whose rights have been violated either do not have the opportunity to make such cases public or prefer not to do so. In 32% of recorded cases (62) rights were violated as a result of the activities of right-wing radical groups, such as C14, National Corpus, and Bratstvo. In these cases, law enforcement bodies are also responsible for their inaction and/or lack of response towards these offences In 26% of cases (52), the violation of rights was caused by the actions of law enforcement bodies themselves (Security Service, Prosecutor's Office, police).
  5. 5. 5 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 In the regional aspect, more than half of all violations were recorded in Kiev (101 cases), as well as in Odessa (23), Dnepr (17) and Lvov (8). Under the aegis of the fight against "Russian hybrid aggression", the Ukrainian Parliament during the year considered legislative initiatives aimed at restricting freedom of speech and opinion (extrajudicial blocking of online resources, fines and deprivation of licenses for TV and radio channels, blocking the work of media agencies by law enforcement bodies). In practice, the mandatory language quotas for the Ukrainian language on television and radio were implemented. Significant restrictions for the media can also be introduced in the event that the "language law", which obliges the print media to publish exclusively in the Ukrainian language, is adopted at the second reading. Deputies adopted draft laws that significantly limit the right to freedom of conscience and discriminate against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). However, the law on peaceful assemblies and the electoral code, which would ensure observance of the right to peaceful assembly and the right to political participation, respectively, have not been adopted in four years. The Security Service of Ukraine and law enforcement bodies continue to apply the so-called "separatist articles" of the Criminal Code (state treason, aiding and abetting terrorism, overthrowing the constitutional system) against journalists, bloggers, participants of peaceful assemblies, representatives of opposition parties, organizations, and even ordinary users of social networks expressing an alternative position on the political and social situation in the state. In 2018, these articles also started to be applied to the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. At the same time, the official Ukrainian government does not recognize the existence of political prisoners in the state who were detained and/or convicted for their political views and stance (journalists R. Kotsaba, V. Muravitsky, D. Vasilets and E. Timonin, P. Volkov, K. Vyshinsky, etc.).
  6. 6. 6 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 In 2018, there was a high level of intolerance at the social level. Numerous and systematic acts of physical violence and threats made by ultra-right groups against individuals and organizations belonging to independent media agencies, political parties, and public organizations possessing an alternative ideology and value paradigm, as well as the religious communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and ethnic minorities (Romani) were recorded. Law enforcement bodies do not obstruct, but even encourage extreme right-wing groups. According to experts and the public statements of representatives of the most right-wing radical groups, they coordinate their activities with the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. High-profile murders of journalists and politicians (O. Buzina, P. Sheremet), committed by representatives of these groups, among others, remain uninvestigated or disproportionately lenient court sentences are passed. There has been no significant progress in ensuring accountability for grave human rights violations during the killing of Maidan protesters and the 2nd May 2014 violence in Odessa. Despite the numerous notes of protest of world human rights and journalistic organizations, the website "Mirotvorets" still functions under the informal auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, publishing the personal data of Ukrainian and foreign journalists, political and public figures, lawyers, and representatives of religious communities who are regarded by the authorities as ideological opponents. As a result of legislative decisions, government practices, and the activities and acts of inaction by the Security Service and law enforcement bodies, the principle of pluralism of opinions and political competition, which are the most important basis for democratic foundations of society, is jeopardized. With its statements and state policy, the Ukrainian authorities are fuelling hate speech, intolerance of dissent, xenophobia, and interfaith conflict in society. These trends threaten constitutional democracy, the rule of law and inclusiveness, and may lead to a narrowing of the democratic/civil and political space throughout Ukraine. Given the fact that the 2019 parliamentary and presidential elections are nearing, it is extremely important to increase the attention that the Ukrainian and international community is paying to the situation with respect to political rights and freedoms being the most important basis for the functioning of the democratic system in Ukraine.
  7. 7. 7 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION Despite publicly declaring its commitment to international law and European standards, Ukraine's state policy in 2018 was de facto aimed at creating additional restrictions for the work of independent media and journalists under the guise of fighting separatism and the need to protect the information space from Russian aggression. In Parliament deputies from the government coalition submitted a number of draft laws for consideration that aim at obtaining the possibility to extrajudicially block online resources and the creation of additional reasons for fines and the deprivation of licenses of TV channels. The Parliament's vote for the introduction of targeted sanctions against two TV channels broadcasting alternative views and positions was unprecedented. The National Council of TV and Radio Broadcasting, through its functions of licensing and imposing fines, has become a tool for putting pressure on independent media in order to obtain a loyal editorial policy towards President Poroshenko. In addition, Ukrainian and international human rights defenders recorded numerous facts of the Security Service of Ukraine and other law enforcement bodies interfering in the work of journalists and the activities of public organizations in order to censor materials and voiced opinions. Since 2014, representatives of the SBU have been overly broadly interpreting the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to terrorism, as well as the provisions on treason and encroachment on the territorial integrity of the state in cases against Ukrainian media workers, journalists, bloggers, and even ordinary users of social networks. In 2018, law enforcement bodies initiated new proceedings against journalists (Kirill Vyshinsky). An equally significant problem with the observance of the right to freedom of speech and opinion in Ukraine is violence against journalists and media editorial boards. According to statistics, 96% of crimes against journalists in Ukraine go unpunished.
  8. 8. 8 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Legislative regulation The right to freedom of thought and speech and the right to freely express one's views and beliefs are enshrined in article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the state of Ukraine. At the national level, this right is guaranteed by article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine. The prohibition of censorship and the impossibility of recognizing any ideology as mandatory are also established at the constitutional level (article 15 of the Constitution). The issue of the functioning and guarantees of the media, as well as the rights, duties, and responsibilities of participants in information relations are regulated by about 100 legal acts. In addition to the Constitution, the laws of Ukraine "On information" and "On printed mass media (press) in Ukraine", as well as the Law of Ukraine "On television and radio broadcasting" (1997) occupy a leading place in matters of freedom of the press. During 2018, a number of legislative acts were introduced in the Parliament, which (if adopted) could become a tool for the authorities to put additional pressure on independent media. The initiators of these draft laws were mainly deputies from the coalition factions “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” and “People's Front”. Under the aegis of countering "Russian hybrid aggression", these draft laws contain measures that significantly restrict freedom of speech and opinion in Ukraine. In particular, we are talking about the following legislative initiatives submitted to the Parliament during 2018: ● The introduction of the possibility to block online information resources for up to 2 days (at the initiative of the Prosecutor or investigator) or indefinitely (by a court decision). Relevant draft law No. 66881 was included in the agenda of Parliament in June 2018. On July 4th the parliamentary committee on national security and defence approved the draft law. The Security Service of Ukraine publicly supported the draft law2. On September 4th the parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication decided to send the document for revision. According to the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta", the fact that the draft law was submitted to the Parliament is a serious blow to freedom of expression and poses significant threats to the media and the free exchange of information on the Internet3. ● Giving the National Council of TV and Radio Broadcasting (hereinafter – the National Council) the opportunity to impose fines and cancel the licenses of TV and radio channels for "calls for a violent change of the constitutional system of Ukraine, unleashing an aggressive war or its propaganda and/or inciting national, racial, and religious hatred and enmity". Relevant draft law 1 Draft Law No. 6688 from 12.07.2018 "On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine on countering threats to national security in the information sphere". The draft law was developed by deputies from the “People's Front” faction (Dmitry Timchuk, Tatiyana Chernovol) and the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” (Ivan Vinnik). It was included in the agenda of Parliament on June 21st. On July 4th the draft law was approved by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defence (headed by Sergey Pashinsky, “People's Front”). http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_2?id=&pf3516=6688&skl=9 2 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/21/view/5025#.jrIN5B5V.dpbs 3 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/zakonoproekt-o-vnesudebnom-blokirovanii-internet-sajtov-neset-pryamuyu-ugrozu-svobode-slova The OSCE representative for freedom of the media Harlem Desir urged Ukrainian legislators to “seriously revise the text of the draft law and balance security issues with the right of citizens to freedom of expression and free media”. He is confident that the draft law “lacks provisions that ensure effective judicial supervision and due process in relation to decisions to block access to services. The UN OHCHR also stressed that States should refrain from undue interference in the exercise of the right to the freedom to seek, receive, and disseminate any information, and recalls that any restriction on freedom of speech (in particular on the Internet) should be commensurate and necessary in order to achieve the intended purpose (international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 19, part 3).
  9. 9. 9 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 No. 90684 was submitted to the Parliament on September 7th 2018. On October 2nd the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Information Policy and Freedom of speech5 recommended to Parliament to adopt this draft law at the first reading as a basis. On December 18th, despite the calls of the “People's Front” party in support of the draft law, deputies did not have enough votes to put it to a vote. According to the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta”6, if the draft law is adopted, the National Council will have virtually unlimited possibilities to put pressure on, and to even close, TV and radio companies that are undesirable for the authorities. ● The possibility of blocking the resources of the Ukrainian media that are suspected by law enforcement bodies of promoting "terrorist activities" is stipulated in draft law No. 97257, which was registered by deputies from the "Bloc of Petro Poroshenko" and "People's Front" factions on November 7th. After two attempts (November 20th and December 6th), the draft law was not included in the voting agenda by Parliament. The vote of the Parliament on October 4th to submit to the National Security and Defence Council the issue of imposing sanctions against the TV channel “112 Ukraine” and “NewsOne” (Decree 2589- VIII)8 was an unprecedented case. The decree stipulates the following sanctions – the freezing of assets, the cancellation or suspension of licences, the prohibition of the use of the radio frequency resource of Ukraine, the prohibition of the transfer of technologies and rights to objects of intellectual property, and others. The Parliament's decision was made as a part of a general campaign of harassment and hate speech from the side of officials and right- wing radical groups against these TV channels. Thus, immediately after the change of management of the “NewsOne” channel in August 2018, on September 3rd the chairmen of the "Bloc of Petro Poroshenko" and "People's Front" factions said that “the dynamics of anti- Ukrainian sentiment on 'NewsOne' is becoming larger” and “this channel more and more broadcasts the Kremlin's dungeons, using representatives of the fifth column”9. On September 4th representatives of these factions in the Parliament hall urged the Prosecutor General's office and the SBU to investigate "pro-Russian" TV channels, which they call "Vata-TV". Among the channels named by deputies were "112 channel", "NewsOne", and "Inter"10. On September 20th in his annual address to the Parliament, President Poroshenko also demanded to register "agents of influence" of the aggressor state. Journalists and experts suggested that President Poroshenko wants to close “NewsOne” and other opposition media under the pretext of fighting "Kremlin agents"11. 4 Draft Law No. 9068 “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine 'On television and radio broadcasting'” on strengthening information security and countering the aggressor state in the information sphere" was registered in the Parliament on 07.09.2018. The authors of the draft law are deputies of the faction "People's Front" (Viktoriya Syumar, Maksim Burbak), the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” (Olga Chervakova, Grigory Shverk, Artur Gerasimov), and "Self-help" (Oleg Berezyuk) http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64570 5 Headed by the author of the draft law Viktoriya Syumar, “People's Front” 6 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/zakonoproekt-9068-kak-novyj-instrument-davleniya-vlasti-na-nezavisimye-media 7 Draft law No. 9275 on introducing amendments to some laws regarding the protection of the information space. Registered in Parliament on November 7th 2018 http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64909 8 Decree 2589-VIII "On the approval of proposals for the use of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)", adopted on 04.10.2018, entered into force on 20.10.2018. http://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2589-viii 9 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/deputaty-koalicii-opolchilis-na-telekanal-newsone 10 https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2018/09/4/7191051/ 11 https://vesti-ukr.com/strana/304139-komanda-fas-pod-predlohom-borby-s-ahentami-kremlja-prezident-khochet-zakryt-newsone-i-druhie- oppozitsionnye-smi The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine called the decision of deputies illegal and recalled that the activities of the media are regulated by the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, as well as the courts, but not politicians. The OSCE representative for freedom of the media Harlem Desir expressed deep concern over any future decision to terminate or potentially block the regular functioning of the media in Ukraine. "I urge the Ukrainian authorities to refrain from taking disproportionately restrictive measures against the media without due process of law, because it will have a negative impact on free access to information and prevents the expression of a diversity of opinions," said Harlem Desir.
  10. 10. 10 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 A number of restrictive measures for the work of the media and the free expression of opinions are also contained in the draft laws, which are aimed at the actual prohibition of the Russian language and culture in Ukraine. Thus, significant restrictions on the work of the media can be imposed in the event of the entry into force of draft law No. 5670-d “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language”12, which was adopted on October 4th at the first reading. Among other things, the draft law stipulates that the print media must be published only in the Ukrainian language. Media can be published in other languages if the content is completely identical to the Ukrainian-language original. Electronic media should have a page in Ukrainian, which should be loaded by default as the home page. According to the preliminary estimates of media representatives, if this law is adopted a number of Ukrainian media outlets may be closed due to a significant increase in financial costs. The Kyiv Post, the only fully-fledged separate English-language media outlet in Ukraine, has already stated that it lacks resources for the release of a second newspaper. There is also a high probability that these legislative norms will be used to fine and initiate criminal cases against opposition publications. Against the background of active anti-Russian rhetoric on the eve of the election campaign, on October 18th the Parliament included in its agenda two more draft laws prohibiting propaganda of the "Russian world" and the "Imperial ideology of the aggressor state" in Ukraine (draft laws No. 913913 and No. 920014 respectively). According to the lawyers of the "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform, the adoption of these draft laws will pave the way for a groundless ban on the use of the Russian language and culture, as well as a ban of the Orthodox faith, referring to the alleged idea of involvement and commitment to Russia, which is contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine and international jurisprudence15. The so-called "moratoria on the Russian-language cultural product" adopted by the regional councils of Lvov and Zhytomyr (25th October), Ternopol (6th November), Ivano-Frankovsk (7th December), and Volyn regions (20 December) have a negative impact on the freedom of speech and opinion16. According to the experts of "Uspishna Varta, these moratoria contradict Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine and the law “On culture”. The initiative of the deputies does not have any legal basis and is highly recommendatory. Nevertheless, the 12 Draft law No. 5670-d "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state one". Registered in parliament on 09.06.2017, adopted at the first reading on 04.10.2018 http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=61994 13 Draft law No. 9139 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine 'On the Condemnation of the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Banning the Propaganda of Their Symbols'” (regarding the condemnation and prohibition of the “Russian world” in Ukraine. It was brought to Parliament on September 28th by deputies from the "Ukrop" party (Aleksandr Shevchenko). http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64706 14 Draft law No. 9200 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine 'On Condemnation of the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Banning the Propaganda of Their Symbols'” (concerning the condemnation and prohibition of the imperial ideology of the aggressor state in Ukraine. It was submitted to Parliament on October 16th by deputies from the factions “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” (Aleksandr Briginets, Refat Chubarov) and “People's Front” (Andrey Teteruk and Sergey Vysotsky). Refat Chubarov is also the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people. http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64796 15 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/zakonoproekty-po-zapretu-russkogo-mira-protivorechat-normam-nacionalnogo-i-mezhdunarodnogo-prava- yuristy 16 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/svoboda-nastupaet-v-zhitomire-vsled-za-lvovom-zapretili-russkoyazychnyj-kulturnyj-produkt Сontrary to the recommendations of the Council of Europe and the PACE resolution "Protection and development of regional languages and minority languages in Europe" of January 23, 2018, the legislation introducing language quotas for the Ukrainian language (up to 75%) on television and radio, as well as the "law on education", which significantly infringes on the rights of national minorities and the Russian-speaking population, was not abolished.
  11. 11. 11 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 decision of the regional councils not only recommend, but also plan to control their unconstitutional implementation. For example, in the Lvov region an interdepartmental working group is being created to conduct "explanatory work" on this moratorium". It is planned to include law enforcement officers, district administration officials, and the public in the group. The adoption of these moratoriums will have a direct impact on the work of the media and the ability to express their opinions freely. Thus, the editorial board of the Russian-language magazine "Sho" (Lvov region) has already announced restrictions on the sale of its publications in connection with the moratorium. At the legislative level other prohibitions and restrictions on the work of the media that are not formally related to the factor of Russian aggression were also initiated. Thus, on November 20th draft law No. 9306, which stipulates criminal liability for slander, was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine17. The authors of the draft law (deputies from “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko”) propose to introduce criminal liability for the deliberate distribution of knowingly false statements via the "public demonstration of works in the media or on the Internet". The proposed sanction is a fine of 8,500 to 25,500 hryvnia, correctional labor for a period of one to two years, or the restriction of freedom for a period of two to five years. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine said that this amounts to a ban on the profession and called to boycott this draft law18. However, for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada did not impose a moratorium on media checks during the 2019 presidential elections. The moratorium was supported on December 5th by the Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, but the issue was not put to a vote. It was assumed that the Committee's amendments allowed only monitoring of language quotas on the TV and radio. 17 Draft law 9306 "On Amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes of Ukraine regarding the establishment of responsibility for libel". Registered in Parliament on 20.11.2018 by deputies from the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” faction. http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=64959 18 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/ukrainskiye-deputaty-khotyat-sazhat-zhurnalistov-na-5-let-za-klevetu-posle-dela-gandzyuk The language issue is one of the key elements of the campaign of the current President Poroshenko at the elections-2019
  12. 12. 12 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Government policy Fines and deprivation of licenses for TV and radio channels Supervision of compliance with the laws of Ukraine in the field of television and radio broadcasting is carried out by the National Council of Ukraine for Television and Radio Broadcasting (hereinafter - the National Council). At meetings concerning the deprivation of licenses, members of the National Council openly talk about the political expediency of their decisions, allegedly with a view to "combat separatism" and "resist Russian aggression". In February 2018 more than 60 media representatives and media companies made an open appeal to President Poroshenko and other authorities, urging them to stop the censorship in the country and to stop the blackmailing of editors by the National Council, which they considered to be the beginning of the collapse of freedom of speech in Ukraine. "The actual duties of this body were reduced to censorship, constant unscheduled inspections, blackmailing editorial offices regarding the extension of licenses, etc.," says the appeal. From the major media, it was signed by the journalists of the TV channels “Inter”, “ZIK”, “NewsOne”, “112 Ukraine”, the media holding companies “Vesti Ukraine” and “Era Media”, as well as other media agencies19. Thus, in May, the head of the National Council Yury Artemenko on the air of "Channel 5" said that closing the channel isn't beneficial, since indignation may arrive from Europe and Ukrainians themselves, but imposing systematic fines is profitable and possible. "If a channel is closed – let's say I love or hate some channel, for example, Inter - you understand that fault will be found and so many people will rise, and Europe will shout that an oppositional channel was closed. But a fine is a good practice, which we saw on the quotas for Ukrainian songs. They pay, whine, cry, but they pay," he said20. The fines imposed by the National Council are mainly related to the media that is in opposition to the current government and broadcast alternative opinions and assessments on the political agenda. The media close to President Poroshenko and the parliamentary coalition factions, on the contrary, received preferential licenses and were not fined for violations committed on the air. On July 11th the National Council decided to fine the TV channel "Inter" for 4 million hryvnia because of a concert shown on May 9th 2018 on the occasion of Victory Day. "Inter" believes that the fine was imposed exclusively for "condemning Nazism as a manifestation of fascism" and intends to defend their interests in court21. On August 29th the National Council also decided to carry out an unscheduled check of the radio station "Radio Vesti". According to the regulator, on July 18th the proportion of Ukrainian-language programs on the radio was 42.4% versus the 55% of the daily volume of broadcasts required by law. The management of the media holding company "Vesti" has repeatedly reported about the systematic pressure being put on it by the authorities22. On November 1st the National Council decided to fine the "Vesti" radio station 22,800 hryvnia for violating the norms for transmission in the Ukrainian language. On August 29th it became known that the “NewsOne” TV channel was transferred to the management of the lawyer Andrey Portnov, who previously held the post of the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, for 3 years. Immediately on August 30th the National Council announced a warning to the TV channel for the alleged broadcasting of TV programs made after August 1st 1991 that contain the popularization or promotion of law enforcement bodies, the army, and other military or security forces of the “aggressor state”23. On September 20th the National Council appointed an unscheduled on-site inspection of “NewsOne”. 19 http://eramedia.com.ua/273632-zupiniti_znischennya_svobodi_slova_v_ukran/ 20 https://newsone.ua/news/politics/zakryvat-ne-budem-no-vypishem-shtraf-hlava-natssoveta-po-tv-planiruet-naznachit-newsone-vneplanovuju- proverku.html 21 https://inter.ua/uk/news/2018/07/12/6671 22 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/nacsovet-obvinil-radio-vesti-v-nesoblyudenii-yazykovyh-kvot 23 https://www.ukrinform.ru/rubric-society/2527139-nacsovet-obavil-preduprezdenie-newsone-izza-kommentaria-ob-oruzii-rf.html
  13. 13. 13 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 In addition to fines, a tool of the National Council that is used to exert pressure is the issue of extending or renewing the licenses of radio and TV channels. The media loyal to President Poroshenko coordinated this issue without difficulties (radio "Novoye Vremya", the TV channel "Pryamoy"). The TV and radio channels that refused to coordinate their editorial policy with the Presidential Administration continued to have difficulties with the renewal of their licenses in 2018. On January 24th the ZIK TV channel reported that pressure was being put on its activities after it interviewed an opposition politician24. Only after it became known that the composition of the owners had changed did the National Council on March 22nd satisfy the channel's application for the renewal of its broadcasting license. The news information channel "112 Ukraine" also reported that pressure was being exerted on it. In May the head of the National Council Yury Artemenko in an interview with "Channel 5" said that the National Council does not intend to extend the license of the channel “112 Ukraine”, because it allegedly negatively influences public opinion. Channel “112” regarded the threats of the officials about the non-renewal of its license for 2 months prior to a review as the obstruction of journalistic activities and demanded the dismissal of Artemenko25. On November 1st the National Council appointed an unscheduled inspection of the “NASH” TV channel (Maksi- TV), which was launched by the opposition politician Evgeny Murayev on November 7th. On December 6th the National Council refused to reissue the name and program concept of the TV channel. The leadership of the channel called the decision of the National Council illegal, biased, and politically motivated26. Restrictions imposed on freedom of speech and opinion by law enforcement bodies Censorship of journalists and media agencies by the Security Service of Ukraine Ukrainian and international human rights defenders recorded numerous instances of the SBU and other law enforcement bodies interfering in the work of editors and journalists and the activities of public organizations in order to censor materials and voiced opinions regarding the conflict in Donbass and relations with the Russian Federation. In an open appeal to President Poroshenko in February 2018, more than 60 representatives of Ukrainian media companies demanded to stop censorship in the country and, in particular, to assess the activities of the SBU units that wiretap and survey journalists27. Representatives of the SBU and law enforcement bodies used the situation with the dramatization of the "murder" of the journalist Arkady Babchenko to intimidate and coerce journalists into self- censorship. On May 29th law enforcement bodies reported about the murder of the Russian journalist living in Kiev Arkady Babchenko. On the same day, a number of officials claimed that there was the "trace of the Kremlin" in the crime. On May 30th at a briefing the head of the SBU Vasily Gritsak and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yury Lutsenko reported that the journalist is alive. The SBU explained that the dramatization was needed in order to identify the perpetrators of the alleged contract killings of more than 30 (later 47) Ukrainian journalists and public figures. However, the video and statements of the detained "client" of this "murder" presented by the SBU 24 https://zik.ua/news/2018/01/24/kerivnytstvo_ziku_zayavlyaie_pro_zagostrennya_tysku_na_diyalnist_telekanalu_1250903 25 https://112.ua/novosti-kanala/telekanal-112-ukraina-trebuet-uvolneniya-predsedatelya-nacsoveta-po-tv-yuriy-artemenko-otkrytoe-pismo- 446659.html 26 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/natssovet-otkazal-telekanalu-nash-v-pereoformlenii-litsenzii 27 http://eramedia.com.ua/273632-zupiniti_znischennya_svobodi_slova_v_ukran/ Journalist Arkady Babchenko, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yury Lutsenko and head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasily Gritsak at a briefing on May 30, 2018
  14. 14. 14 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 caused experts to cast doubts about the participation of the Russian special services in this case and about the expediency of this dramatization in general. International organizations and diplomatic missions demanded to clarify the need to stage the death of Arkady Babchenko, calling it an “extraordinary measure”28. In addition, the International and European Federation of journalists (IFJ-EFJ) condemned the growing number of threats against journalists in Ukraine made by government officials and called on the Ukrainian authorities to stop such acts of harassment aimed against journalists and representatives of journalistic organizations29. Authoritative organizations also condemned the so-called "list of traitors" who criticized the government in the situation with Babchenko. This list was published by the Press Secretary of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Larisa Sargan. It included, amongst others, the journalist Miroslava Gongadze and the Chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Sergey Tomilenko. The OSCE representative on freedom of the media Harlem Desir called the publication of the list and the accusation of journalists of betrayal “unacceptable and dangerous”30. Searches in media outlets and interference in the work of journalists During the year, law enforcement bodies carried out searches in the editorial offices of independent media agencies and secret investigations against journalists. Thus, despite the protests and concerns of international organizations, on February 8th 2018 the office of the media holding company "Vesti Ukraine" was captured with the active participation of government agencies, law enforcement bodies, and civilian mercenaries. As a result, journalists were prevented from lawfully occupying their office, machinery, equipment, and personal belongings were seized, the editorial office was trashed, gas of an unknown origin was used against the journalists, and journalistic activity was obstructed. The holding company emphasizes that it occupies the office legally as it has lease agreements with the owner, whose right to use these premises is not limited. After the office of the media holding was captured it was held by unknown persons of an athletic build drinking alcohol and destroying the equipment and furniture of the journalists31. Since 2014 the National Council, representatives of law enforcement bodies, and ultra-right groups have been systematically putting pressure on the media holding "Vesti Ukraine" (radio "Vesti", the newspaper "Vesti", the “vesti-ukr” and ubr.ua websites, the UBR TV channel). On March 5th the SBU carried out more than 25 searches in different regions of Ukraine at the homes of persons who allegedly promote Russia in carrying out anti-Ukrainian actions. According to the Ukrainian media, searches, in particular, took place in Kiev, Dnepr, Kharkov, and Odessa. In Kiev, the SBU searched the apartment of the journalist Yury Lukashin32. On May 15th the SBU carried out searches in the editorial office and in the homes of employees of the news agency RIA "Novosti Ukraine". As a result of the searches the editor-in-chief of the agency Kirill Vyshinsky was detained. He was charged with treason (part 1 of article 111 of the Criminal Code). The sanction on this charge stipulates up to 15 years of imprisonment. 28 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/situaciya-s-babchenko-inscenirovka-ubijstva-zhurnalista-podryvaet-doverie-k-pravoohranitelnym-organam 29 http://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2018/06/01/ifj-and-efj-condemn-threats-against-journalists-in-ukraine/ 30 https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/383478 31 https://vesti-ukr.com/strana/277661-sem-dnej-okkupatsii-ofis-vestej-razhromlen-reshenie-suda-ihnoriruetsja 32 https://strana.ua/news/129130-jurij-lukashin-rasskazal-podrobnosti-obyska-sbu.html Office of Media Holding "Vesti Ukraine" after the seizure of the military prosecutor's office and the National Agency for Asset Management (ARMA), February 2018
  15. 15. 15 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Other media companies in Ukraine also reported that the authorities and law enforcement bodies were putting pressure on them. Thus, on September 18th the publication “STRANA.ua” reported that an SBU officer threatened to punish a journalist of the publication. It was precisely this journalist who took a picture of President Poroshenko’s villa in Marbella (Spain) in May 2018. On October 1st the editor-in-chief of the publication, Igor Guzhva, announced that he had obtained political asylum in Austria. The team of investigative journalists from “Bihus.info”, under the leadership of Denis Bigus, also reported that its editors and journalists were being surveyed by the Security Service of Ukraine. On September 4th “Radio Svoboda” expressed its indignation regarding the decision of the Pechersky court to provide the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine with access to the personal information of Nataliya Sedletskaya, the chief editor of the “Schemes” investigation program33. Later, in accordance with the decision of the Kiev Court of Appeal, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine was granted the right to access a smaller amount of data from the journalist’s phone. The OSCE urged the Ukrainian government to respect the privilege of Sedletskaya as an investigative journalist and to adhere to international standards and OSCE commitments. Attempts to also put pressure on YouTube channels featuring socio-political content were also recorded. On July 12th the Pechersky court of Kiev adopted a ruling allowing investigators of the National Police of Ukraine to contact Google with a request to obtain data about a number of YouTube channels, including the channel of the well-known journalist and video blogger Anatoly Sharij34. Deportation and non-admission of foreign journalists Despite the sharp reaction of the OSCE and other organizations, the practice of deporting and not allowing foreign journalists to enter Ukraine continued in 2018. As was reported by the Security Service of Ukraine at the end of 2018, the department banned 83 “Russian propagandists” from entering Ukraine35. Thus, on May 2nd the State Border Service at the request of the SBU didn't let journalists from Italy, the Czech Republic, and Russia enter Ukraine to cover commemorative events in Odessa, referring to the fact that these journalists previously “improbably covered the events in Ukraine”36. On June 26th Russia Today correspondent Paula Slier, as well as the Russian TV presenter and representative of the Union of Journalists of Russia Evgeny Primakov, who arrived in Kiev for an OSCE conference, were not allowed to enter Ukraine. On July 10th in Kiev the British journalist John Warren was not allowed entry with a ban on entry for 3 years due to unauthorized visits to Crimea in September-October 2015. On July 18th the SBU banned the Chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia Vladimir Solovyov from entering the country for three years. The OSCE representative on freedom of the media Harlem Desir stated that he was "disappointed" with the non-admission of Solovyov, and that "travel restrictions affect the free flow of information". During the 30 days of martial law (from November 26th to December 26th) 37 border guards on the Ukrainian- Russian border refused entry to 6 journalists from Russia. This concerns the employee of the "Staraya Rus" publication Elena Nikolaeva and Yuliya Nikitina from "Fontanka". In addition, border guards didn't let the 33 https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/schemes/29470455.html 34 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/zapros-nacpolicii-v-youtube-o-kanale-shariya-yavlyaetsya-prepyatstvovaniem-zhurnalistkoj-deyatelnosti- yuristy-uspishna-varta 35 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/2/view/5512#.mHz1rOaj.dpbs 36 https://dpsu.gov.ua/ua/news/Prikordonniki-ne-propustili-dlya-visvitlennya-podiy-v-Odesi-gromadyan-Italii-CHehii-ta-Rosii/ 37 In accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On the Approval of the Decree of the President of Ukraine 'On the Imposition of Martial Law in Ukraine'” (No. 2630-VIII), adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on November 26th, martial law was introduced in 10 regions of Ukraine and in the internal waters of the Azov-Kerch water area from 14:00 on November 26th to 14:00 on December 26th 2018. In Decree No. 393/2018 “On the introduction of martial law in Ukraine”, published on the website of the President, it is indicated that for the period of the legal regime of martial law, the constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and citizen enshrined in Articles 30–34, 38, 39, 41–44, and 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine may be limited.
  16. 16. 16 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 correspondent of the newspaper "My District" Elena Vladykina and the journalist of the “SCOOP” network Anastasiya Drozdova enter the country. The reasons for which the journalists were denied entry were not explained. On December 4th two more journalists from Russia were also not allowed to enter Ukraine. In general, during the period of martial law entry into Ukraine was denied to 1650 Russians38. In addition, the SBU deported journalists living in Ukraine who have foreign citizenship. On July 17th the staff of the Kiev SBU detained in Nikolaev the Turkish oppositional journalist Yusuf Inan, violently brought him out of his house in Nikolaev, and, without the right to appeal, was extradited to Turkey. Inan ran an opposition Internet website and was put on the wanted list by the Turkish authorities. The extradition of the journalist caused a wave of indignation among human rights defenders in Ukraine and abroad. On January 2nd 2019 employees of the SBU detained the founder of the "Glavnovosti" news website Pavel Karnazytsky. He was deported to Belarus and banned from entering Ukraine for 3 years. The SBU claims that Karnazytsky conducted "destructive activity, spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda and fake information" in Ukraine. The lawyer of the journalist noted that his client was forced to leave Belarus because of political persecution and since the late 90's has lived in Ukraine39. Arrests of journalists and bloggers In 2018 the political persecution of journalists and public figures because of their opinions and convictions continued in Ukraine. From those cases that are known to the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform, “political” cases against journalists, public figures, and politicians are initiated as a rule under the articles “Crimes against the foundations of the national security of Ukraine” (Articles 110-114¹ of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). According to statistics from the General Prosecutor's Office for 2015-2018, under these articles a report was submitted on suspicion of 711 cases. At the same time, in 38% of these cases (276) suspicions were handed over in 2018. Most often, law enforcement bodies applied the following articles: ● Articles 110 and 110-2 "Infringing on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine" - a total of 302 suspicions; ● Article 109 “Actions aimed at forcibly changing or overthrowing the constitutional system or seizing state power” - 198 suspicions; ● and article 111 “State treason” - 147 suspicions. In 2018 the prosecutor's office filed in court 182 cases under the articles on national security with a indictment (a total of 483 cases in 2015-2018). Most of the charges under these articles that had the legal team of “Uspishna Varta”40 had the opportunity to study are based on “formal suspicion”, without a corresponding evidence base and with violations of the rules of procedural law. 38 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/voyennoye-polozheniye-v-ukraine-itogi 39 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/sbu-deportirovala-v-belarus-oppozitsionnogo-zhurnalista 40 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/sizo-ili-zalog-pochemu-sudy-ne-naznachayut-zalogi-po-politicheskim-delam
  17. 17. 17 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Data from the website of the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine As a result, hundreds of people for several years were (or continue to be) in pre-trial detention centers, without a court decision, without the right to bail, and without any alternative. Among them are the journalists Ruslan Kotsaba, Dmitry Vasilets, Vasily Muravitsky, Kirill Vyshinsky, Pavel Volkov (other cases are in the section “Monitoring of human rights cases”). In January 2015 the journalist from Ivano-Frankovsk Ruslan Kotsaba was convicted of treason for publishing a video that opposed military mobilisation. He spent 524 days in a detention center without an alternative. In the spring of 2016 the court sentenced Kotsaba to 3.5 years in prison. In July 2016 the court of appeal fully acquitted and released the journalist. In March 2017 the Prosecutor's office received an appeal, and the Supreme Court returned the case to the appellate instance for reconsideration. Hearings on the Kotsaba case continued in 2018. Thus, on February 19th the Dolinsky court of the Ivano-Frankovsk region returned the indictment to the prosecutor's office for being incompatible with the norms of the law of Ukraine. On May 29th a similar decision was made by the Lvov Court of Appeal. However, in October in Ivano-Frankovsk the Security Service of Ukraine filed a renewed case against the journalist for treason and disruption of mobilization. According to the journalist, the charges have not changed, the evidence also remained the same. In his opinion, all this litigation is necessary only to prevent the consideration of the case in the European Court of Human Rights. Journalist Dmitry Vasilets and his colleague Evgeny Timonin were detained by the SBU on November 24th 2015 on charges of information assistance to terrorism (article 258-3 of the Criminal Code). They were accused of setting up a YouTube channel and a number of other services for the-then non-existent information resource "Novorossiya-TV". After almost two years of being detained in pre-trial detention and accused in litigation, in September 2017 the Andrushevsky court of Zhytomyr convicted Vasilets and Timonin to 9 years in prison. In February 2018 the Kiev Court of Appeal overturned the verdict, sending the case for a new trial to the court of first instance and changed the measure of restraint to house arrest41. Vasilets and Timonin were wrongly in jail for 820 days. 41 https://uspishna-varta.com/keys/dmitrij-vasilets-i-evgenij-timonin/ ст.109; 196; 27,6% ст.110; 213; 30,0%ст.110 - 2; 89; 12,5% ст.111; 147; 20,7% ст.112; 33; 4,6% ст.113; 17; 2,4% ст.114; 8; 1,1% ст.114-1; 8; 1,1% Criminal proceedings under articles of Criminal Code, for which a notice of suspicion was served (2015-2018) ст.109 ст.110 ст.110 - 2 ст.111 ст.112 ст.113 ст.114 ст.114-1 Journalist Ruslan Kotsaba was in prison for 524 days Journalists Vasilets and Timonin were sentenced to 9 years in prison for "informational aiding terrorists"
  18. 18. 18 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 During 2018 "Uspishna Varta" monitored the re-trial of Vasilets-Timonin in the Borodyansky district court of the Kiev region. After the postponement of a number of court sessions42, the first preparatory hearing on the case took place only on October 16th. The court granted the request of the defenders and returned the indictment to the Prosecutor's office for revision, referring to the numerous violations committed during the pre-trial investigation and the non-compliance of the indictment with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code. On December 13th the Kiev Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Borodyansky court and granted the appeal of the Zhytomyr Prosecutor's office43. Court sessions concerning the Vasilets-Timonin case will continue in 2019. Journalist and blogger Vasily Muravitsky was detained by the SBU on August 2nd 2017 on charges of treason. He is charged with the fact of concluding a standard employment contract with an international Russian agency, where he had his analytical column. He spent 11 months in a pre-trial detention center without an alternative. As of January 2019 he continues to be under house arrest. Amnesty International recognized Muravitsky as a prisoner of conscience. The lawyer of Muravitsky reported to the "Uspishna Varta" human rights group that in the indictment there is no crime, and the most stringent measures of detention are wrongfully imposed on the journalist. Muravitsky was detained by the staff of the SBU in the maternity hospital where his wife gave birth to their child. The SBU put pressure on the journalist and blackmailed him by threatening to involve his loved ones if a guilty plea isn't made44. The "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform monitored the 10 court hearings concerning the case of Muravitsky that took place in 2018. Thus, at the hearings on May 7th, June 1st, and June 13th the court sent the materials of the investigation for revision, prolonging the journalist's measure of restraint. On June 27th the Korolevsky court of Zhytomyr changed his measure of restraint to house arrest45. During subsequent hearings the court examined the evidence of the Prosecutor's office and extended the journalist's measure of restraint. Thus, on October 24th, during another court session the Prosecutor provided Muravitsky's e-mail correspondence, including spam letters reporting that the journalist allegedly had won a prize in the form of a sum in Russian rubles, as proof of his guilt. The journalist's defence insists that the written evidence submitted by the Prosecutor cannot be recognized by the court as admissible46. During the hearings of November 16th and December 12th, the court continued its examination of the prosecution's evidence in the case47. On January 10th 2019 the court decided to extend the measure of restraint imposed on the journalist in the form of around-the-clock house arrest for another 60 days.48. The court hearing on the case of Muravitsky will continue in 2019. Representatives of the right-wing radical group “C14” systematically appear at court hearings concerning the case of Muravitsky, which can be regarded as the exertion of pressure on the court. On August 6th, immediately after the court hearing, they attacked Muravitsky and doused him with zelenka49. On September 28th representatives of “C14” attacked a lawyer and a journalist in the courtroom50. The police, who arrived after the incident happened, did not bring the attackers to justice. 42 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/sud-po-delu-vasilca-i-timonina-perenesli-iz-za-neyavki-prokurorov 43 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/apellyatsionnyy-sud-vernul-delo-vasiltsa-i-timonina-v-sud-pervoy-instantsii 44 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/video/view/57 45 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/advokaty-i-pravozashitniki-dobilis-osvobozhdeniya-zhurnalista-muravickogo 46 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/prokuror-proignoriroval-trebovaniya-upk-vo-vremya-predostavleniya-dokazatelstv-po-delu-muravickogo 47 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/muravitskomu-prodlili-meru-presecheniya-v-vide-domashnego-aresta 48 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/sud-ostavil-muravitskogo-pod-domashnim-arestom-na-ocherednyye-60-dney 49 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/posle-suda-na-muravickogo-napali-radikaly 50 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/s-drakoj-i-vyzovom-policii-muravickomu-prodlili-domashnij-arest-kak-prohodil-skandalnyj-sud-v- zhitomire Journalist Vasily Muravitsky spent 11 months in the pre-trial prison in Zhytomyr
  19. 19. 19 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 The journalist and blogger Pavel Volkov was arrested on September 27th 2017 on charges of part 2 of article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – infringement of the territorial integrity of Ukraine (by a group of persons) and article 258-3 – rendering other assistance to terrorists. He is accused under both articles because of his publications on the Internet. During the pre-trial investigation and the trial Volkov spent 13 months in jail without an alternative. Despite the deteriorating health of Pavel, during this period the Shevchenkovsky court of Zaporozhye extended the measure of restraint imposed on the journalist in the form of detention. During 2018, the "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform monitored court sessions concerning Volkov's case. Hearings were held at least once a month, and the journalist's measure of restraint was extended. At the hearings on July 5th and August 27th the Prosecutor did not attach new evidence to the case51. At the hearing on September 13th the court granted the request of the lawyer of Volkov to recognise two volumes of the proceedings as inadmissible evidence52. The hearing on September 25th didn't take place because the judge fell ill. In connection with the replacement of the judge, at a hearing on October 25th the Prosecutor filed a motion to have the indictment considered from the beginning. Thus, all the evidence that had been previously appealed by Volkov's lawyers started to be considered by the court again. At the same time, the court refused to satisfy the motion of the Prosecutor to extend the measure of restraint imposed on Volkov in the form of detention, without having chosen an alternative. After spending more than a year in jail in Zaporozhye the journalist was finally released53. Hearings concerning Volkov's case resumed on November 21st. As proof of the journalist's guilt, the Prosecutor's office presented videos showing a snippet of a rally in Zaporozhye in 2013, as well as an interview with Volkov in 2012, in which historical, cultural, and philosophical issues were discussed. The defence noted that the case file contains evidence that is not relevant to the prosecution. On January 9th 2019, after a one-month break and the cancellation of six previous hearings, the hearings concerning Volkov's case resumed. The defence of the journalist filed a motion to have a number of inspection reports declared as inadmissible evidence due to procedural violations that took place during the investigation. The editor-in-chief of RIA “Novosti Ukraine” Kirill Vyshinsky was detained by the SBU on May 15th 2018 on suspicion of treason (part 1 of article 111 of the Criminal Code). Ever since this moment he has had no alternative to being in the detention center of Kherson. Vyshinsky's lawyer told the coordinators of “Uspishna Varta”54 that the journalist as the main suspicion is charged with a number of journalistic publications from March 2014, published in the "Opinions" section of RIA "Novosti Ukraine". These articles allegedly contain calls to change territorial integrity and propagandistic appeals. The SBU became interested in these articles only 4 years after they were published. 51 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/v-zaporozhe-sud-ostavil-pod-strazhej-eshe-na-2-mesyaca-zhurnalista-pavla-volkova 52 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/zaporozhskij-sud-priznal-nedopustimymi-dokazatelstva-po-delu-zhurnalista-pavla-volkova 53 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/sud-otpustil-zhurnalista-pavla-volkova-domoj-posle-bolee-goda-v-sizo 54 Interview with the lawyer A. Domansky, who represents the interests of K. Vyshinsky https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/intervju-advokata- kirilla-vyshinskogo-andreja-domanskogo Journalist Pavel Volkov was detained for more than a year in Zaporizhia Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky was detained on May 15, 2017 on charges of treason
  20. 20. 20 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 In an interview with the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta" during the hearing on December 11th, Vyshinsky himself said55 that, in addition to materials from 2014 on the website of RIA “Novosti Ukraine”, he is also charged with state treason for an article published on May 15th 2018 (the day of his detention) with the title "The attack on the UOC led to the refusal of autocephaly". The article presents the opinion of an expert expressing skepticism about the prospect of obtaining autocephaly. In this material the expert's opinion is stated on 11 lines and the position of the UOC-KP is stated on 17 lines. Concern about the detention of Vyshinsky and the consequences that it can lead to in terms of freedom of the media in the country was expressed in the Council of Europe56, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights57, the office of the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Despite the concern of the international community about the situation with RIA Novosti, no reaction from the Ukrainian authorities followed. The parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech took the side of the SBU and said that the detention of Vyshinsky was justified, which actually legitimized the actions of law enforcement bodies aimed at putting pressure on independent media and journalists. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about possibly exchanging Vyshinsky for the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov58. The “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform monitored the trial of Vyshinsky in the Kherson City Court and the Court of Appeal in the Kherson region. At the first hearing on May 17th the Kherson City Court ordered the arrest of Vyshinsky for 60 days without the right to bail. At the hearings on July 11th, September 6th, and November 1st the court supported the motion of the prosecutor’s office to extend the term of the journalist's detention for another 60 days. At the hearing on December 28th the arrest of Vyshinsky was extended until January 27th 2019. The Appellate Court of the Kherson region, starting with the hearing on June 1st, systematically refuses the motion of Vyshinsky's defence to change the measure of restraint, thus confirming the decision of the court of first instance. Lawyers say that the appeal review is being dragged out. For example, on September 26th the journalist was not taken to court, and on October 2nd the court hearing did not take place due to the reappointment of judges. The defence of Vyshinsky states that in civilized countries the conditions of the journalist's detention in the Kherson pre- trial detention center would be considered as torture, since the windows were removed from cells and rooms for the course of investigative actions. Vyshinsky’s defence insists on the journalist undergoing an independent medical examination. During his stay in the pre-trial detention center his health has significantly deteriorated. On September 25th the Security Service announced the completion of the criminal proceedings investigation concerning the case of Vyshinsky and the preparation of materials for transfer to the court. However, on October 10th the Prosecutor's office said that the investigation concerning the case of Vyshinsky hadn't been completed and the examination continues. At the same time the Prosecutor-General denied the information of the SBU about the completion of the investigation of the journalist. The Prosecutor's office announced the completion of the pre-trial investigation concerning the case of Vyshinsky only on January 10th 201959. 55 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/kirill-vyshinskiy-sledstviye-schitayet-chto-ya-podryvayu-vozmozhnost-polucheniya-avtokefalii 56 https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/spokesperson-of-the-secretary-general-council-of-europe-platform-for-the-protection-of-journalists- registers-alert-on-ukraine-ria-novosti-journalist-k 57 http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/5209833 58 https://vesti-ukr.com/strana/289753-v-mid-podumyvajut-obmenjat-sentsova-na-vyshinskoho- 59 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/zaversheno-dosudebnoye-rassledovaniye-v-otnoshenii-kirilla-vyshinskogo On November 1 the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir expressed serious concern about the lengthy pre-trial detention of Vyshinsky. “I urge the Ukrainian authorities to speed up the investigation into the serious allegations against Kirill Vyshinsky and to conduct such an investigation in full compliance with the principles of the rule of law, necessity, and proportionality. Journalists have the right to freely express their opinions, including by reporting problems that may be considered controversial, sensitive or offensive. Under no circumstances should they be subjected to repression for their journalistic activities,” said Harlem Desir. Later, the OSCE representative expressed disappointment with the court's decision, which for the third time extended Vyshinsky's arrest.
  21. 21. 21 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Restricting Freedom of Expression and Information Exchange on the Internet During 2014-2018 the state's policy was aimed at restricting freedom on the Internet. Such a policy was publicly justified by the need to confront Russian aggression and fight against separatism in the East of Ukraine. In 2018 the trend of restricting freedom of expression on the Internet continued. Thus, on May 14th 2018 President Poroshenko, in accordance with decree No. 126/2018, enacted the decision of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine from May 2nd to introduce new sanctions for 3 years against 1,748 individuals and 756 legal entities, including a number of media agencies. The list of resources whose activities were blocked in Ukraine included the RIA “Novosti Ukraine” website, the websites of “Russia- 24”, “Pervy Kanal”, “NTV”, and others (the television channels themselves were blocked in 2014)"60. The sanctions list also included the Ukrainian media companies “Media Innovation Group” (“Ekonomicheskiye Izvestiya” publication) and “Ukrainian Business Portal LLC”, which are a part of the “Media Invest Group” holding company. The “WebMoney” payment system, which was used by 4 million Ukrainians, was also banned. According to the Security Service of Ukraine, in 2018 the department blocked access to more than 300 Internet resources “used by Russia to wage hybrid war against Ukraine.” It was also reported that “preventive measures” were taken against 220 administrators of online communities who spread destructive content to an audience of more than 10 million Internet users. The press center said that the SBU is investigating 83 criminal proceedings against the owners and administrators of the communities of an “anti-Ukrainian nature” who “deliberately spread calls to overthrow the constitutional system and state power, mass riots and other illegal actions”61. Later the SBU reported that 49 social network administrators, 29 of who were issued suspicion, were brought to justice for so-called "anti-Ukrainian propaganda", and 20 court sentences have already entered into force62. Neither the names nor the place of residence of the detainees were reported by the Security Service of Ukraine, and, respectively, human rights activists and lawyers cannot respond promptly to such cases. Below are just some examples of the cases of the detention of social network users that were recorded in the framework of the monitoring of the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform: On March 22nd the SBU reported about the detention of a resident of Kiev because of their posts on social networks. According to the Security Service, the detainee posted appeals on the Internet for the seizure of state power, for which he subsequently received a monetary reward from representatives of the so-called DPR. The detainee involved several other people in this activity63. On April 26th the SBU announced that it was exposing and preventing the attempts of Russian special services to carry out provocations for the May holidays through the use of prohibited social networks. In particular, the SBU "ceased the activities of a group" consisting of two Kievans and three residents of the Odessa region who administered anti-Ukrainian public pages on the social networks “VKontakte” and “Odnoklassniki”64. On May 8th SBU officials said they had identified and stopped attempts by the Russian special services to carry out provocations on May 9th using prohibited social networks. Two residents of the Kiev and Sumy regions who administered communities on the social network VKontakte were detained65. On May 24th the SBU reported about the detention of an "anti-Ukrainian agitator" in Odessa. According to the Security Service, the woman posted "anti-Ukrainian materials" featuring appeals to change the border and 60 Decree of the President of Ukraine No.126/2018 http://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1262018-24150 61 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/2/view/5545#.Uqwf3rvE.dpbs 62 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/v-2018-godu-sbu-zaderzhali-49-polzovateley-sotsialnykh-setey 63 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/21/view/4544#.Gnbux6Qb.dpbs 64 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/21/view/4688#.PJaaNurI.dpbs 65 https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/21/view/4749#.QsZgtbl0.dpbs
  22. 22. 22 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 constitutional system of Ukraine, as well as the promotion of terrorism, on her Russian social network pages66. Another “anti-Ukrainian Internet agitator” was detained in Odessa on September 14th. In August the SBU said that it allegedly exposed and blocked the activity of a network of online agitators recruited by the Russian special services for the preparation of interference in the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine. The residents of the cities of Dnepr, Krivoy Rog, and Nikopol who allegedly were the administrators of groups on social networks were detained67. On November 5th the SBU reported the arrest of 9 community administrators on social networks. We are talking about residents of Odessa, Kiev, and Severodonetsk who, according to the SBU, "published political news that was sent from Russia and called for acts of disobedience and riots". On November 6th the prosecutor's office and the SBU also reported about the detention of a citizen of Ukraine who was distributing a video on one of the most popular video hosting websites68. The detainees are, as a rule, charged with having deliberate, political, and ideological motives, distributing materials calling for deliberate acts aimed at changing the boundaries of the territory and the state border of Ukraine (part 1 of article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), or committing wilful acts for the purpose of changing the boundaries and the state border of Ukraine (Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). Most of the accused agree to a deal with the investigation and plead guilty in exchange for a suspended sentence. In 9 out of 14 court decisions under Article 109 of the Criminal Procedure Code that the legal team of “Uspishna Varta” found in the register, the accused admitted their guilt in full. As a result, the court limited itself to interrogating the accused or approving an agreement between the accused and the prosecutor on the recognition of guilt. Although criminal procedural law prohibits sentencing solely on the basis of guilty pleas, the use of guilty plea agreements allows the prosecution to circumvent this guarantee. As soon as the plea agreement is submitted to the court, the court terminates the consideration of the case regardless of what stage the proceedings are at. It is disturbing that the defendants may have entered into such agreements under duress69. For example, on August 30th a resident of Mariupol received a suspended sentence for sharing a post on the “Odnoklassniki” social network. The court sentenced him to 3 years of jail, but after the convicted declared their guilt, his term was reduced to a 1 year conditional sentence. Due to the fact that the man shared a post of the group “Antimaidan (South-East)” in March 2017 on his personal social network page, he was charged under article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine70. There are cases when users of social networks are sentenced in absentia. In July the Lutsk city district court sentenced a local resident to 6 years in prison for posting pro-Russian and separatist publications on the “VKontakte” social network. The verdict was announced in absentia and noted in court, since they do not know the whereabouts of the convict71. In December, the court sentenced in absentia a resident of Ternopol to 2 years of imprisonment for distributing on “VKontakte” alleged appeals to Russia to start military aggression against Ukraine. The legal team of “Uspishna Varta” analysed the sentence and noted that a part of the indictment is based on data from the scandalous website “Mirotvorets”72. 66 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/sbu-prodolzhaet-ohotu-za-polzovatelyami-socialnyh-setej 67 https://interfax.com.ua/news/general/527915.html 68 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/v-ukraine-zaderzhany-yeshche-9-polzovateley-sotssetey 69 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/opinions/sverzhenie-konstitucionnogo-stroya-pochemu-i-net 70 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/v-ukraine-prodolzhayutsya-presledovaniya-za-posty-v-socsetyah 71 https://vesti-ukr.com/strana/296534-v-lutske-osudili-muzhchinu-na-6-let-tjurmy-za-posty-vkontakte 72 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/zhitel-ternopolya-osuzhden-na-2-goda-tyurmy-za-posty-vkontakte
  23. 23. 23 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 The status of societal respect Physical violence and attacks on journalists and media agencies Violence against, and harassment of, journalists in Ukraine remained a significant problem during 2018. According to the monthly monitoring of the “Index of Physical Security of Journalists of Ukraine”, carried by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine in partnership with other organizations, 86 incidents of the use of force against journalists during 2018 were recorded. The inaction of the police and the lack of punishment in relation to the attacks, and even the killing of journalists, led to a wave of violence carried out by right-wing groups against media editorial offices and journalists who the “nationalists” consider to be “separatist”. Law enforcement bodies did not prevent the pogroms and attacks of such groups; the attackers were not prosecuted for committing crimes. During the year cases of right-wing organizations blocking media offices and attacking press centers were also recorded: On January 25th about 50 members of ultra-right groups broke into the office of the “Union of Orthodox Journalists” (connected to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church), insulted the members of the Union, and checked the information on their computers. The police present at the scene did not intervene. The “C14” group posted a video on Facebook showing the attacks committed by its members on the office. In March the office of the “ZIK” TV channel in Kiev was picketed by radical nationalists from the "Bratstvo" organisation. The National Union of Journalists said these actions impede professional activity. On May 9th representatives of the ultra-right paramilitary organization “National Corpus” (Azov) besieged the office of the Ukrainian “Inter” TV channel in Kiev. They demanded to cancel the broadcast of the concert entitled “Victory. One for all”, which the channel planned to air on Victory Day. After the concert was aired to 13 million viewers on television, on May 15th the right-wing group re-blocked the “Inter” building and demanded changes to its editorial policy. On November 21st representatives of the radical group “UNA-UNSO” repeatedly (November 21st, December 3rd) picketed the office of the “NASH” TV channel because they consider it to be “pro-Russian”. The head of the channel, Tigran Martirosyan, suggested that the picketing was happening in the interests of the authorities and said that the “action” was aimed against journalists. On December 21st in Lvov, "activists" with smoke bombs tried to break into the editorial board of the website Zaxid.net. According to the media agency, the cause of the picket and attempts to capture the editorial office were publications about abuses in the allocation of land for ATO participants. Among those who took part in the picket were "activists" from the organizations "Development of Society", "National Corpus", and "Ukrainian Union of ATO participants". The participants of the rally were accompanied by the police, who didn't interfere with their actions or intervene. Unidentified representatives of right-wing organizations launched an attack on the press centers of “Ukrainske Novosti” (August 3rd) and “Interfax-Ukraine” (November 12th) in Kiev with the aim of disrupting the holding of press conferences by commercial structures. Also, during 2018 right-wing radical groups carried out attacks on individual journalists and media representatives: On February 3rd in Kiev a reporter for the online publication “Sharij.net” was blocked off by “C14” members, who then threatened her. The police officers who were present did not intervene. The police advised the journalist to "leave and stop your activities", otherwise they "will not be able to protect you"73. On June 21st, during a protest rally 73 https://sharij.net/108195
  24. 24. 24 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 of right-wing organizations near the Patrol Police in Kiev, a journalist from “Sharij.net” was doused with an unknown chemical liquid. Representatives of the ultra-right organization "Bratstvo" took responsibility for the attack. On February 13th in the Kiev district court of Odessa, pending a motion to extend the measure of restraint of the former leader of “Right Sector”, Sergey Sternenko, representatives of this group expelled the Odessa journalist Maksim Voytenko from the court room. The radicals accused Maksim Voytenko of working for the Russian media and said that he had no place among "patriots". Sternenko himself posted a video of the incident on his Facebook page. The police present in the courtroom did not intervene. On July 25th about 30 people wearing symbols of the ultra-right organization “Svoboda” broke into the building of the Borznyansky Regional State Administration (Chernigov region) and held administration workers and the editor- in-chief of “Vesti Borznyanshchiny” Sergey Bliznyuk captive for more than an hour. The journalist earlier wrote an article about the youth Orthodox camp in the Chernigov region. The “activists” hit the journalist several times and also forced him to write a letter of resignation. The priests and parishioners of the UOC adopted an appeal to the President and the Minister of the Interior Ministry in connection with attacks on an Orthodox children's camp and the assault of a journalist74. After the hearing in Zhytomyr on August 6th representatives of “C14” attacked the journalist Vasily Muravitsky and poured zelenka on him. On September 28th representatives of the “C14” and “National Corpus” factions attacked the lawyer of Muravitsky and the local journalist Andrey Laktivonov directly in the court building75. According to the representative of the National Police, the identities of the attackers have been established, and they are being investigated. The National Police explained the fact of the presence of armed members of “right-wing groups” at the court hearing by referring to the right to freedom of movement and to express one’s opinion. On July 18th in Kiev near the Goloseevsky district court a clash took place between the leader of “C14” Evgeny Karas and the “Gromadske TV” journalist Igor Burdyga. During the verbal skirmish Karas hit the journalist in the face. The incident happened whilst a measure of restraint was being chosen for one of the coordinators of “C14” Sergey Mazur in the case of dispersing and burning the Romani camp on Lysa Gora in Kiev. "Gromadske" decided to suspend the journalist from work while the channel investigates the incident. The leader of “C14” Karas was not brought to justice76. The hate speech and discrediting information campaigns of representatives of pro-government parliamentary factions and law enforcement bodies has generated a wave of aggression against the journalists of the “NewsOne” TV channel, putting their physical safety at risk. On September 17th, during a live broadcast, the “NewsOne” journalist Darina Bilera was attacked77. On October 11th another journalist from the “NewsOne” channel, Anastasiya Pshenichnaya, was attacked during a rally of the right-wing radical group “C14” outside the walls of the Ministry of Internal Affairs78. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir said on his Twitter page that the attack on the journalist Darina Bilera was absolutely unacceptable, and called on the Ukrainian authorities to fully investigate this incident. At the local level, in regions, journalists as a rule became the targets of attacks carried out by representatives of private and municipal companies whose activities they are investigating. Journalists investigating the 74 http://news.church.ua/2018/07/25/nacionalradikali-pogrozhuyut-dityam-ta-pobili-zhurnalista-yakij-napisav-stattyu-pro-molodizhnij-pravoslavnij- tabir-na-chernigivshhini 75 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9p5MghPuXA 76 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/v-ukraine-uchastilis-sluchai-napadeniya-na-zhurnalistov-i-prepyatstvovaniya-zhurnalistkoj-deyatelnosti 77 https://uspishna-varta.com/en/news/na-zhurnalistku-newsone-napali-vo-vremya-stolknovenij-pod-genprokuraturoj-v-kieve 78 https://youtu.be/hhk--fNAcS4 The attack on live NewsOne journalist, September 17, 2018
  25. 25. 25 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 activities of local authorities and local deputies are also attacked. Such cases were recorded in Kiev, Krivoy Rog, Irpen (Kiev region), Dnepr, Odessa, Nikolaev, and Kramatorsk (Donetsk region). Representatives of law enforcement bodies and communal security agencies were involved in a series of attacks on journalists. For example, on July 28th a police officer, despite the presence of “Press” symbols, deliberately sprayed gas from a police canister at the face of Efrem Lukatsky, the photo correspondent of Associated Press in Ukraine. The incident happened in Kiev during clashes between the police and "National Druzhina" over a construction in one of the residential areas of Kiev. Cases of editorial property being damaged were also recorded in 2018: On February 22nd in Rovno the editorial office of the information-analytical portal “Chetverta Vlada” was set on fire. The prosecutor's office completed the investigation and referred the case to court in January 2019. On July 10th in the Dnepropetrovsk region (Kamenskoye), unknown persons set the editorial board of the opposition newspaper “Sobytie” on fire. The premises and equipment of the editorial office were destroyed. In September the NUJU stated that the SBU refuses to investigate systematic arsons of the media and the intimidation of journalists in Kamenskoye. According to their data, over the past 2 years 5 arsons of editorial offices and the property of journalists were carried out in Kamenskoye (Dnepropetrovsk region), and the perpetrators have not been found79. Despite the increasing occurrence of attacks, the inaction of the prosecutor's office and law enforcement bodies, as well as ignoring even the most resonant crimes against journalists, has led to the fact that in recent months only 8% of cases have reached the court. This was stated by the participants of public hearings concerning the physical safety of journalists in Ukraine and the impunity to crimes against the media, which took place on November 1st at the initiative of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine80. For example, a year after the special forces attacked the journalists of the “Gromadske TV” agency, “UNIAN”, and the Internet newspaper “Strana.ua” in the Svyatoshinsky Court of Kiev (October 2017), the investigation did not establish those involved and continues to reject the request of lawyers to simultaneously examine witnesses and victims. This was stated by the lawyer of one of the journalist-victims. With the support of the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform, legal support is provided to a journalist from Zhytomyr Ruslan Kunavin (Moroz), who was attacked and robbed on June 10th 2017. He was hospitalized for more than a month, but due to the severity of his injuries he needs to continue his treatment even after being discharged. Consideration of the case of Moroz in court was postponed for a long time for various reasons. Only on July 12th 2017, after numerous postponements, was a hearing held on this case. Those suspected of attacking the journalist were charged under part 2 of article 187 (robbery by a group of individuals), because of which they face between 7 and 10 years in prison. Despite the severity of the articles of the prosecution, they were kept under house arrest during all this time, and not even around-the-clock either. The hearings on the journalist’s case were held on July 24th, August 21st, and October 2nd. Under the weight of the evidence, those who attacked the journalist confessed to committing the crime, but denied that the attack was politically-motivated81. On November 23rd the prosecutor's office once again failed to deliver a witness to the court hearing and did not provide the materials of secret investigative actions that were carried out by the decision of the investigating judge. The hearing was rescheduled for January 18th 2019. 79 http://nsju.org/index.php/article/7350 80 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/ot-silovikov-trebuyut-publichnyy-otchet-o-rassledovanii-prestupleniy-protiv-zhurnalistov- obshchestvennyye-slushaniya-nszhu 81 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/pravozashitnikov-ozadachila-operativnost-rassledovaniya-po-delu-nikolaevskogo-obshestvennika Journalist Ruslan Kunavin (Moroz) was attacked in June 2017
  26. 26. 26 © Report “Political rights and freedoms in Ukraine: Monitoring compliance in 2018” prepared by the public organization “All-Ukrainian Association 'Uspishna Varta'”, Kiev, January 2019 Full investigative actions are carried out only in cases where journalists and media representatives who are loyal to the authorities have been attacked. For example, on May 18th 2018 the Prosecutor- General Yury Lutsenko signed a document granting parliamentary consent to criminalise Aleksandr Ponomarev, a member of the “Freedom of Peoples” group, for obstructing the work of journalists from the “Censor.net” and “Kamenyari-Info” Internet publications in the parliament building. According to the journalistic community, the “Censor.net” publication is close to the “People's Front” party. The media community and human rights organizations are seriously concerned by the lack of responsibility for the murders of journalists. This is most clearly seen in the insignificant progress that has been made in the investigations into recent attacks on media workers, as well as into the high-profile murder cases of Pavel Sheremet and Oles Buzina82. The Ukrainian journalist and writer Oles Buzina was killed on April 16th 2015 near his home in Kiev. Buzina was known for his criticism of the government in connection with the events of Maidan and the conflict in the East. The police opened an investigation into the incident in accordance with article 115 (premeditated murder) of the Criminal Code. On June 18th 2015, two suspects in this case (representatives of the right-wing group “C14”) were placed under arrest. In December 2015 they were released from custody under the obligation to appear at court hearings via summons. The first preparatory hearing on this case began in the Kiev Shevchenkovsky court only on February 9th 2018, more than two years after the murder of Buzina. On June 7th the court reopened the preparatory hearing of the case, canceling all previous results of the case. According to the assessment of the human rights defenders of “Uspishna Varta” who monitor this trial, the defence deliberately drags out the trial. Thus, the regular hearing scheduled for June 15th was postponed for formal reasons; the jury was not given a memo. On August 9th a survey of candidates for jury members was held during a court hearing and a long debate. In the corridor of the court nationalists shouted the slogans: “Judge separatists, not soldiers!”, “Judges, remember, the government is not eternal!”, and “Dismiss the judges!”. After this hearing the composition of the jury was approved. On September 26th the court hearing was canceled due to the judge’s illness. On October 23rd the defence of the accused insisted on the need to consider the case from the beginning and demanded the disqualification of a judge. On December 11th the lawyers of the accused challenged the jury, but it was not satisfied either. Now the defence intends to challenge the prosecutor on this case. The next hearings are scheduled for February 8th and 15th, 2019. The well-known journalist Pavel Sheremet died on July 20th 2016 as a result of a car explosion in the center of Kiev. The Prosecutor- General said that this crime is being investigated by an inter- departmental task force consisting of representatives of the National Police, the Security Service of Ukraine, and employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. On July 20th 2018, on the second anniversary of the death of Sheremet, Ukrainian human rights activists and journalists demanded a public report from law enforcement bodies on the investigation and the bringing to justice of those responsible for the death of Pavel and other journalists killed in Ukraine in recent years83. Earlier, the Prosecutor-General Yury Lutsenko stated that the investigation had not made any progress concerning any of the narratives in the case of the journalist's murder. An alternative investigation carried out by independent organizations revealed that the investigators had not questioned key witnesses, and the recordings of the surveillance cameras had not been verified. 82 Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine 16 August to 15 November 2017 (№20) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/UAReport20th_EN.pdf 83 https://uspishna-varta.com/ru/novyny/ubijstvo-pavla-sheremeta-dva-goda-spustya-sledstvie-ne-prodvinulos-ni-po-odnoj-iz-versij Journalist Oles Buzin was killed in the courtyard of his own house in April 2015 Journalist Pavel Sheremet was blown up in cars in July 2016

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