In light of the recent violations of minimum standards for the protection of journalists, the European Initiative for Media Pluralism has initiated an international petition demanding the immediate release of reporters detained by the Ukrainian National Guard law-enforcement anti-terrorism authority.
The petition, which aims to create wide support amongst European civil society, human right defenders and journalists will be submitted to outgoing and incoming MEPs of all parties, as well as to the office of baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. Along with the urgent junctions proposed, the petition will collect proposals for the better protection of journalists in the conflict areas around the Ukrainian-Russian territories.
The demand comes after the latest brutal detention of the British independent journalist Graham Phillips, now released, and the Russian team of LifeNews Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko near Kramatorsk. They were all arrested on grounds of instigating terrorist activities. Interviewing pro-Russian locals that do not serve the mainstream politics of the anti-Russian interim cabinet of the Ukraine and taking photos and video recordings of the military presence was qualified as “spying” and a “threat to the national security and integrity” by the Ukrainian authorities. What makes Marat Saichenko an even greater terrorist in the eyes of the local anti-terrorism unit is his Uzbek origin and that, upon entering Ukrainian territory, he did not declare that he is a guitarist in a music band. The absurd is indeed a threat: a looming danger to the practice of journalism and freedom to serve the public with objective information. The appeals by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunya Miatovich and the Russian guild of journalists (Channel 1, Russia Today, NTV, News Media, RenTV, Channel 5, VGTRP) yielded no reaction.
“Ukrainian authorities should release Oleg Sidyakin and cameraman Marat Saychenko immediately,” said Muzaffar Suleymanov, Europe and Central Asia program researcher for the Committee to Project Journalists. “We call on all sides in the conflict in Ukraine to respect journalists’ status as civilians and allow them to report freely.”
Arresting journalists as if they are terrorists continues after the detention of NTV’s Stepan Chirich, Russia Today’s Fedor Zavaleykov, VGTRP’s Kseniya Kibkalo – to name a few amongst a disturbingly increasing number.
European Alternatives and Alliance Internationale de Journalistes have been working since 2010 towards the establishment of a European Initiative for Media Pluralism, a coalition promoting the idea that European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information. The European Initiative for Media Pluralism brings together organisations, media, and professional bodies from throughout Europe.
For more information on the arrests, read this account from Vice at https://news.vice.com/article/ukraine-is-now-detaining-journalists-too
For more information on the European Initiative for Media Pluralism, go to http://www.mediainitiative.eu/