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Western media sound alarm over press freedom decline in Ukraine

NYT, The Guardian are drawing attention to a troubling trend of shrinking press freedom in Ukraine during the ongoing war with Russia.
Ukrainian media.
Ukrainian media. Illustrative photo
Western media sound alarm over press freedom decline in Ukraine

Journalists from Western publications such as The New York Times (NYT) and The Guardian report on a concerning trend of shrinking press freedom in Ukraine.

According to the NYT, Ukrainian colleagues “complain that restrictions and pressure on the media have intensified under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, going well beyond the country’s wartime needs.”

The reports cite recent examples, such as a Ukrainian reporter who received a draft notice the day after reporting that a state information agency tried to ban interviews with opposition politicians. Another instance involves the Ukrainian security service allegedly monitoring staff members of an investigative news outlet through peepholes in their hotel rooms.

The NYT journalists state they reviewed instructions from Ukrinform, the state news agency, which, according to the newspaper, included a blacklist of lawmakers, activists, and some military veterans.

In a comment to the NYT, Oksana Romaniuk, director of the non-profit Institute of Mass Information monitoring media freedom, called it a “disturbing trend, especially against the backdrop of a war in which Ukraine is ‘fighting for democracy against the values of dictatorship embodied by Russia.'”

The Guardian also reported last month on attempts to intimidate Ukrainian journalists. British journalists spoke with Olga Rudenko, deputy editor of the English-language Ukrainian media Kyiv Independent, who said Ukrainians are “fighting for Ukraine not to be Russia” because “Russia is associated with no freedom of speech, no freedom of media, no freedom whatsoever.”

Ukraine improved its ranking in this year’s World Press Freedom Index released on 3 May by Reporters Without Borders, rising 18 places to 61st out of 180 countries.

In April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned spying on journalists during a press conference in Kyiv. At the time, journalists raised the alarm over what they said were increasing restrictions on the media.

In May, the American Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, also discussed the importance of preserving press freedom.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the US Ambassador emphasized that “independent media in Ukraine remain a pillar of democracy and are essential to its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and ensure that the government adheres to the highest standards of accountability and transparency.”

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