Ukraine accused of ‘arbitrary restrictions’ against journalists – RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

The media are denied access to certain areas, are banned from filming and sometimes detained, deplores Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized the Ukrainian authorities for « abuses » against foreign and local journalists covering the conflict with Russia. He urged Kyiv to quickly remove obstacles for the media.

« Some 9,000 reporters covering the war in Ukraine have difficulty accessing certain locations and filming or taking photos, and are even sometimes detained, » he added. the organization, which protects freedom of information worldwide, said in a statement Friday.

Those « arbitrary restrictions » complicate the work of the press on the ground and must be lifted, she insisted.

« In a democratic country, war is no reason to hinder the work of journalists », says Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. « National security restrictions are legitimate, but must be proportionate. »

However, RSF believes that the Kyiv government is creating “unjustified barriers to reliable and objective reporting” on the ground.

This claim was supported by the accounts of several media professionals who have reported on the conflict over the past four months.

« The Ukrainian authorities consider foreign journalists as relays of influence rather than vehicles of information », a journalist, who chose to remain anonymous, told RSF. “I was detained for several hours by local militias and then interrogated by [the Security Service of Ukraine] on innocuous photos, while my accreditation was in order.

French photojournalist and war reporter Véronique de Viguerie also said she felt pressured to always portray Ukrainian soldiers as victims, not assailants.

« When it came to taking pictures on the front line, there was always a ‘no’ that came out of nowhere, » she complained.

“Sometimes journalists are simply not allowed to enter the field” on their own, the RSF statement said, adding that « That was the case in Kharkov for a while. »

Journalist branded an enemy of state by Ukraine

Under these conditions, their only hope is to be integrated into the forces of kyiv, which is problematic because of « the confusing selective approach » Ukrainian press officers, who can easily decide « to take a local blogger to visit a strategic location while refusing to take journalists from international news agencies. »

Another problem is that many Ukrainian troops completely ignore the rights of accredited journalists, the group pointed out. A journalist from the French daily Les Echos, Guillaume Ptack, recalls being repeatedly detained at checkpoints by members of the territorial defense unit, who had no idea that the media is allowed to work despite the curfew.

Ukrainian journalists told RSF they should apply « self-censorship » and only report data confirmed by the Ukrainian authorities for fear of liability for revealing the positions of their troops. However, some media workers, like Tamara Koval, editor-in-chief of news site, still face charges despite following all the rules, the group said.


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