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Freedom of speech in Ukraine slightly improved - Institute of Mass Information

Freedom of speech in Ukraine slightly improved - Institute of Mass InformationMedia experts have noted a slight improvement in the freedom of speech situation in Ukraine for the first half of 2016.

"The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) experts registered 129 cases of freedom of speech violations in total, compared to 143 cases for the same period in 2015 (including the occupied territories and Crimea - 154 cases compared to 175 violations in the first half of 2015).

At the same time, while considering the dynamics of change together with the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, the "number of violations since the beginning of this year is 154 (over the same period in 2015 - 175)," the institute notes.

According to the analysis, physical aggression against journalists has remained at about the same level - 23 attacks on journalists were registered in the first half of 2016 (similar to the figure for the same period of 2015), and 23 cases of threats and intimidation (22 cases were registered in the first half of 2015).

The category with the largest number of violations registered by IMI experts was the impediment to lawful professional activities of journalists (45 cases). It is even more than for the same period of last year (34 cases).

At the same time, there is an improvement in journalists' access to information - we are aware of 9 cases of violations related to access to information in the first half of the year, compared to 16 cases during the same period in 2015.

Read also: Human Rights Watch calls Ukraine to drop ban on 17 Russian journalists

Among the leaders of violations in the first half of 2016 are (non-occupied territories of Ukraine) Kyiv and Kyiv region - 38 cases (Kyiv - 35, region - 3), Odesa region - 11, Mykolaiv region - 10, Volyn region, Dnipro region, Zaporizhia region - 7 and Donetsk region - 6.

According to IMI, the peak of freedom of speech violations in the first half of 2016 was traditionally in April and May. Most often, journalists risked their cameras being smashed, they were kicked out from the officials' offices, were not allowed to make shooting at courts, which doesn't need a permit, and pushed away from the scenes of car accidents involving officials.

In general, the biggest violators of freedom of speech in Ukraine (unoccupied territory) were: ordinary citizens - 71 cases, the local authorities - 20 cases, officials - 8 cases. For comparison, the top three biggest attackers on journalists last year were individuals, the judiciary and security guards.

In Russian-occupied Crimea, there have been registered 22 cases of violations of freedom of speech this year. On the peninsula, the media was pressed by the Russian secret service FSB, police, Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor, the judiciary, and individuals.

Studies show that in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (so-called LPR and DPR) IMI has recorded 3 cases of violations (in the same period last year there were recorded 11 cases). The small number of violations is because dozens of journalists have left and dozens of medias ceased working. As to this area, the role of media is actually performed by social networks. The cases recorded by IMI had to do with blocking of more than 100 Ukrainian news websites in the so-called LPR, the order issued in the so-called DPR to cut off almost all Ukrainian TV-channels, the experts of institute say.
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