Ukraine Uses ‘Broad-Brush’ Excuse for Crackdown on RIA Novosti Journalists – SPJ

Ukraine Uses ‘Broad-Brush’ Excuse for Crackdown on RIA Novosti Journalists – SPJCC BY-SA 2.0 / Carolyn Langton / CensoredWorld20:06 16.05.2018Get short URL



WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Ukraine government used treason charges as a broad pretext to justify a crackdown on RIA Novosti journalists, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Ethics Committee Vice Chairman Fred Brown told Sputnik.

“It appears the charge of ‘treason’ has been leveled without much transparency or detail about what might have been involved,” Brown said on Tuesday. “It seems to be simply a broad-brush excuse for a government crackdown on the dissemination of information the government doesn’t appreciate.”

Champions of the ideal of free expression, he added, whether in official positions or not should object to Kiev’s actions. Brown said any government attempts to control free expression generally should be condemned.

“But even in the United States, there are exceptions. Broadcasters, for instance, are subject to a certain (comparatively low) level of regulatory control by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),” he said. “Restrictions based on access, under which definition FCC rules licensing wavelengths generally fall, are quite different from attempts to control content, which is almost never acceptable.”

The head of the Ukraine-based office of the RIA Novosti news agency, Andrey Borodin, said authorities searched his for 11 hours. Ukraine authorities also searched the Kiev apartment of Ludmila Lysenko, a Ukraine-based correspondent of the RIA Novosti news agency.

READ MORE: Journalists Arrest Unacceptable in Democracies — IFJ on RIA Novosti Ukraine Case

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya news agency and RT broadcaster, said she thought what was happening in Ukraine was Kiev’s “revenge” for the recently opened Crimea Bridge. She further noted that RIA Novosti Ukraine was not legally linked to Rossiya Segodnya, but was its media partner.

Commenting on the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would take reciprocal measures in response to Kiev’s actions, but needed more detailed information. Peskov also said that the Kremlin strongly condemned the use of force against the Russian media in Ukraine and expected a harsh reaction to the Kiev’s hostile actions on the part of international organizations.

An OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media urged Kiev to refrain from imposing “unnecessary limitations” on foreign journalists, which impacts the free flow of information and press freedom.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Kiev’s actions against the RIA Novosti journalists in Ukraine were unacceptable. The Russian embassy sent a note of protest to Ukraine demanding Kiev to halt its persecution of media representatives.

READ MORE: RIA Novosti Ukraine Head Vyshinsky Cannot Manage Without Medication — Wife

Head of RIA Novosti Ukraine news portal Kirill Vyshinsky was detained in Kiev on Tuesday. On the same day, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) broke into the office of RIA Novosti Ukraine in Kiev.