Since 2014, Russia’s war against Ukraine has been marked by crimes against journalists and the destruction of independent journalism in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Murders and abductions of media representatives, arrests, seizure of television towers, groundless searches of editorial premises – it’s only a small list of crimes committed by the Russian occupiers against media. This is underscored in the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Since February 2022, during eight months of full-scale aggression, Russia committed 457 crimes against journalists and media in Ukraine, according to the monitoring data of the Institute of Mass Information. As of October 2022, the Russian occupiers killed more than 40 Ukrainian and foreign journalists.

“We also note the alarming deterioration of the situation with human rights and freedom of speech in the temporarily occupied Crimea. After the occupation in 2014, when independent journalists were forced out of the peninsula or arrested, the phenomenon of citizen journalism developed on the peninsula. Ordinary citizens, risking their lives, join in covering the crimes of the Russian occupiers,” the diplomats noted.

According to human rights defenders, currently 14 journalists, in particular, citizen journalists, are being held behind bars in occupied Crimea or the Russian Federation.

Russia’s invasion launched a new wave of brutal repression against representatives of regional media: hundreds of media outlets in the temporarily occupied territories have been forced to stop their work due to threats and the impossibility of carrying out journalistic activities under the temporary occupation.

As the MFA stressed, the Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia are systematically isolated from the Ukrainian information space and Ukrainian broadcasting, and the national Internet providers are blocked there. The occupiers broadcast Russian state channels instead.

Russia also wages an active information war, spreading disinformation about Ukraine, conducting special operations to destabilise society and discredit relations with international partners.

It is critical now to consolidate joint efforts to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation, including by terminating the activities of Russian propaganda broadcasters abroad.

“In this context, we call on the international community to impose and expand sanctions against the Russian state media that spread false information, inter alia, aiming to justify Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine.

Natalia Tolub

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