The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine hosted a panel discussion entitled “Building Resilience to Information Influence: Freedom of Speech as a Component of Information Security.”
In particular, in her speech, First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar expressed hope for further development within the OSCE of a crucial track to address the threats and challenges associated with disinformation and propaganda disseminated from abroad.
As Dzheppar stressed, Russia’s ongoing armed aggression, which, among other things, is actively using the media as an instrument of its hybrid war, remains the biggest challenge to media freedom and security in Ukraine.
In this regard, she drew attention to the blatant violations of media freedom and freedom of speech in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in Crimea and certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. For example, after the independent media had been ousted from Crimea, activists, or so-called citizen journalists, took on the role of filling the vacuum of unbiased coverage of the real situation on the temporarily occupied peninsula. Currently, eight of them are imprisoned by the Russian occupiers for up to 20 years on false charges.
Dzheppar also reminded about the illegal arrest of Vladyslav Yesypenko, RFE/RL freelance correspondent, by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea in March of this year. In addition, the First Deputy Minister mentioned Ukrainian journalist, writer, and activist Stanislav Aseyev, who spent 28 months behind bars in the illegal Izolyatsia prison in Donetsk, where he was subjected to torture daily.
Dzheppar called on the international community to use all available means to support Ukraine in facilitating the release of Ukrainian political prisoners and the closure of all illegal prisons in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
In turn, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro said that the safety of journalists was one of the priorities of her mandate. She also noted the work of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine on countering disinformation and a long-term project to support the strengthening of media self-regulation mechanisms, as well as the establishment of the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security at the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.
The event was also attended by representatives of Ukrainian government agencies, international experts from NATO, the EU, independent media, and NGOs, who discussed the world’s best practices for protecting society from the harmful effects of disinformation and other hybrid instruments, preserving freedom of speech and media.