Freedom of speech and the rights of Journalists in Ukraine

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Date(s) - 10/12/2018
11:00 - 12:30

Press Club Brussels Europe



According to the most recent report of Freedom House on Ukraine:

“Ukraine’s media environment has significantly improved since a change in government in 2014, and ongoing reforms continue to strengthen the legal and economic framework for journalists and outlets. However, there are several remaining challenges, including undue political interference with content as well as violence, harassment, and other abuse of journalists.”

Speaker:            Andrei Domansky

Moderator:         Colin Stevens

Languages:        English and Ukrainian (consecutive interpretation)

Andrei Domansky, a prominent Ukrainian lawyer, is campaigning for the freedom of speech and the rights of journalists in Ukraine.

He represents a number of journalists in Ukraine who have been detained or harassed for doing nothing more than carrying out their professional duty.

Domansky will present at this conference examples of human rights violations, including against the staff of the « » political news portal. Because the publication is under constant attack, the editor Igor Gujva has sought political asylum in Vienna. His correspondent in Kyiv, Kirili Malyshev is constantly harassed by the authorities.

Domansky will also present at the conference facts concerning the harassment of Danila Mokryk of the First TV Channel, and threats against his life, as a result of his efforts to fight corruption.

Both of these journalists are loyal to the current Ukrainian system, but for political opponents of the government, the situation is more troubling.

Domansky will present the facts of the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, who has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest in Kyiv by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in May 2018. Vyshinsky is the bureau chief of the RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency, and is being held on charges of high treason pending further investigation.

The SBU accuses RIA Novosti Ukraine of participating in a “hybrid information war” waged by Russia against Ukraine. A trial date for 28th December has been set.

This case is controversial, because the accusations against Vyshinsky concern articles written by other journalists and with a range of different opinions, but published by him in 2014.

His detention has been criticised by the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir, who has called on the Ukrainian authorities to “refrain from imposing unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign journalists, which affects the free flow of information and freedom of the media.” He has also called on the Ukrainian authorities to expedite the investigation on Vyshinsky, and to release the journalist, saying: “Journalists have the right to express dissenting views and to report on issues that could be considered controversial, sensitive or offensive without any fear of retaliation.”

The U.S. State Department has said that Washington shares Ukraine’s concern about Russian propaganda but has stressed that Ukraine must ensure it abides by the law, including international human rights law.

The case raises important questions about the free expression of political views by journalists and how these are dealt with by governments.

The meeting will be moderated by Colin Stevens, Vice-President of the Brussels Press Club, and Publisher of EU Reporter. The presentation by Andrei Domansky will be followed by Q and A and a sandwich lunch will be served.