According to information received by SEEMO, several journalists have encountered problems reporting freely from territory that is controlled by the government in Kiev during recent months. As of today, 16 September, there is an official list of journalists who are considered “unacceptable” by officials in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree introducing sanctions against more than 350 foreign individuals and legal entities, including numerous journalists and bloggers from West Europe and Russia. According to this document, the persons on the list pose a “threat to national interests” or promote “terrorist activities”. This list includes BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, BBC cameraman Anton Chicherov and producer Emma Wells, as well as numerous other Western and Russian journalists. The list includes also two Spanish journalists, Antonio Pampliega and Angel Sastre, despite the fact that Sastre went missing in Syria two months ago and has not been seen since.
“This is a shameful attack on freedom of expression and the freedom of movement of journalists”, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. “President Poroshenko must remove the names of all journalists and bloggers from the list as a matter of urgency. Even if officials in Ukraine do not like the way that some media, especially from Russia, are reporting, freedom of the press means the freedom to report on matters that are in the public interest, and every journalist must have the right to carry out his or her work without pressure from state officials. Every state has the right to fight against terrorism and to protect their national security, but this should not be used as an excuse to prevent journalists from doing their work”.
“Propaganda is being used in war and conflicts by all sides, and there have been many cases of unprofessionalism on the part of both Russian and Ukrainian media reporting on the conflict between Kiev and Moscow. We have reports of journalist who cannot report freely on the territory controlled by pro-Russian authorities in the east of Ukraine (so called DNR – Donetsk People´s Republic and so called LNR – Luhansk People´s Republic), as well as of journalists who had problems reporting from the territory controlled by the government in Kiev. However, it is not the job of state authorities or paramilitary groups to decide who can and who cannot report”, Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe. SEEMO’s press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.