Location Ukraine Ukraine

Ukrainian officials condemned Ukrainian journalists in Warsaw

On September 11, an OSCE-led Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, devoted to human rights and democracy, was held in Warsaw. This event is held by the OSCE every year.

There was a conflict between the Ukrainian government delegation and opposition journalists at the meeting. Independent journalists held a roundtable where they announced harassment and pressure on journalists by the Ukrainian authorities. There were the speakers as Ruslan Kotsaba, who spent 524 days in jail for calls against conscription, Dmitry Vasilets, convicted for 9 years allegedly for separatism, head of the media holding “Vesti” Olga Semchenko, as well as Olga Shariy, the wife of Anatoly Shariy, who became the first Ukrainian journalist received the status of political refugee in Europe.

Their speeches and even the very fact of their appearance in the OSCE-led meeting angered the Ukrainian government delegation. It traditionally called all opposition journalists “agents of the Kremlin”, named the roundtable a manifestation of the “hybrid actions of the Russian Federation” and called on the OSCE not to listen to “pseudo-journalists.” The official delegation consisted of representatives of the Ukrainian authorities who went to Warsaw at public expense, and so called activists, who went for the money of the grantors.

Human rights activist Volodymyr Chemeris talks about his impressions of the meeting. Official representatives of Ukraine said nothing about problems with freedom of speech in their country. Instead of talking about the violation of freedom of speech in Ukraine, they talked about problems with freedom of speech in the uncontrolled territories of Donbas, in Crimea and in Russia. “When it came to what should be said about freedom of speech proper in Ukraine, they said that this issue can not be raised at all. That we have no right, Ukrainians do not have the right to talk about the violation of freedom of speech in Ukraine. And those who are daring to talk about this, that is, we, are agents of the Kremlin,” – Chemeris said. “Deputy Minister of Informpolitik Emine Japarova even before our roundtable condemned us beforehand for what we will discuss.” Thus, representatives of the Ukrainian state clearly illustrated that there is no freedom of speech in Ukraine: “You have not said anything yet, but you are already condemned in advance.”

“These people say that we have no right to express our opinion – this is the denial of Ukraine as a free country, as such. That’s actually what we wanted to talk about. But in response we did not hear the discussion. We heard that we simply do not have the right even to raise this issue.” According to Chemeris, the official Ukrainian delegation thus undermined its credibility in the OSCE: “This is a very small group of people who are no longer taken seriously in the OSCE.”

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