Respect Safety and Freedom of Journalists in Ukraine

As Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine approaches, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have called on all parties to the crisis in the country to respect the rights and freedoms of journalists covering the poll, while also advising journalists to remain vigilant and stay safe.

The IFJ and the EFJ has also renewed their plea for all journalists detained in the Ukraine to be released with immediate effect.

The IFJ/EFJ have issued the calls following reports that British journalist Graham Philips, who works for Russian TV station, Russia Today, was detained in Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday, 20 May, before being taken to Kiev overnight by the National Guard. He was released this morning around midnight after being detained for a day and half by Ukrainian authorities.

Two Russian journalists, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, who work for LifeNews, are also reported to have been detained by the Ukrainian National Guard near the city of Kramatorsk last Sunday, 18 May.

These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks against journalists in recent weeks. United States journalist Simon Ostrovsky, of Vice News, was held by pro-Russian separatists in the city of Sloviansk, but was subsequently released, while Ukrainian photojournalist Yevegeny Gapich and Sergei Lefter, a Ukrainian correspondent for the Warsaw-based Open Dialogue Foundation, were also kidnapped.

As tension builds ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election, the IFJ/EFJ have issued Media Safety Guidelines for journalists covering events on the ground in Ukraine. The guidelines are accessible HERE.

“We are gravely concerned about the continued reports that journalists are being intimidated, attacked and kidnapped in Ukraine, and as the presidential election approaches further unrest is possible,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We urge all journalists covering developments to ensure they stay safe and we call on sides involved to respect their right to report on events.”

The IFJ and EFJ’s Russian and Ukrainian affiliates have also agreed actions to help protect the safety of journalists working in the country.

At a meeting on Monday, 19 May, at the Office of the OSCE Representative in Vienna, representatives from the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), were among a host of Russian and Ukrainian media organisations that adopted a memorandum on mutual co-operation and solidarity for the support and safety of journalists covering events in Ukraine. It is available in English, Russian and Ukrainian HERE.

The memorandum also supports the agreement between the RUJ, IMTUU and NUJU made on 17 March, 2014, during a roundtable discussion at the IFJ offices in Brussels. At this meeting the unions agreed co-operative measures to provide support for journalists, and to uphold professional ethical standards and journalist safety.

READ THE IFJ MEDIA ADVISORY GUIDELINES FOR JOURNALISTS COVERING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS HERE 

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17 The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries