Protecting freedom of speech, free expression and creating a favourable environment for journalists have always been integral components of Ukrainian society.
Russia has virtually destroyed these principles in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014. The full-scale invasion that Russia started against our country on February 24, 2022, is accompanied by even more brutal repression of independent journalism.
According to the Institute of Mass Information, Russia has committed more than 500 crimes against journalists and mass media in Ukraine during the fourteen months since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
In a year and two months, Russian invaders have killed over fifty Ukrainian and foreign mass media representatives, including nine of them, directly while carrying out editorial tasks in combat zones.
Dozens of regional editorial offices in the temporarily occupied territories have ceased operations due to Russian rocket attacks, threats, destroying civilian buildings and the impossibility of conducting impartial journalistic activities.
The first step of the aggressor-state on the temporarily occupied territories was to isolate them from the Ukrainian information space, cut off radio and television signals, and block the work of national Internet operators and mobile traffic.
The Russian occupiers are also killing and persecuting journalists, searching editorial offices and forcing them to stop their journalistic work. The list of Russian crimes against the media in Ukraine also includes the shelling and seizing of TV towers and hacker attacks on information resource sites.
Russia deliberately isolates the occupied territories from the Ukrainian information space while broadcasting its propaganda channels that discredit the Ukrainian state and Defense Forces.
The situation with freedom of speech in the temporarily occupied Crimea is catastrophic. Every month, unlawful convictions are handed down to Crimean Tatars imprisoned in Russia and on the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula, including citizen journalists. This phenomenon arose at the beginning of the illegal occupation of Crimea when ordinary people began to cover the facts of the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens and became the target of repression by the Russian occupation administration. Currently, 15 Ukrainian citizen journalists are detained on fabricated charges by the Russians.
Ukraine and its international allies are taking measures to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation. These efforts aim to stop broadcasting Russian propaganda resources abroad and expand sanctions against Russian media and their owners.
We call on the countries to increase pressure on Russia for murdering, torturing and persecuting journalists, suppressing the development of a free and safe environment for media in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.
The pro-state media of the aggressor should be deprived of the right to spread fakes about the war unleashed by the Russian Federation, not be able to conceal the consequences of attacks on Ukrainian territory, justify the deaths of civilians and the deliberate destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure and cultural sites.
We also thank all Ukrainian and international journalists who work in the war zone daily, risking their lives to bring the truth about Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. No offence against media representatives should be left without proper investigation, and its perpetrators should be brought to justice.