Ukraine's union of journalists calls extrajudicial measures against Medvedchuk's channels as dangerous precedent, but supports govt right to protect info space – statement
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine does not defend the editorial policy of any media, including the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK television channels, but at the same time advocates the observance of the rights of Ukrainian media and Ukrainian journalists guaranteed by law and therefore expresses concern about the extrajudicial application of restrictive measures against these television channels.
"The right of the government to legally protect the information space from fakes and propaganda is indisputable, especially in the context of a hybrid war unleashed against Ukraine. At the same time, the use of the NSDC sanctions tool and the termination of media operations must be based on public evidence and proceed in compliance with procedures specified by law," the union's secretariat said in a statement, adopted at the end of the online meeting on February 8 and 9, and released on its Facebook page on Tuesday.
The National Union of Journalists said that in accordance with their statutory tasks and powers, they protect the media in conflicts with the authorities, but at the same time they said that "freedom of speech does not give journalists grounds to abuse it, wherever they work." "And when any media allows itself to question the national statehood and territorial integrity of Ukraine, to justify the armed aggression committed against it – these actions should be timely assessed by the competent public agencies, without waiting for a convenient political moment," the journalists said in the statement.
The union condemns calls for violence against journalists and media workers and says that the owners and top managers of the media are primarily responsible for editorial policy, and the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting, which has the appropriate authority for this, should respond to the violations found. "At the same time, representatives of the journalistic union should be aware of the level of responsibility in working with words and facts, in preparing materials and programs, following generally accepted standards of the profession, without resorting to manipulations that turn journalism into a propaganda tool," the union said.
"Extrajudicial restrictive measures are a dangerous precedent. This instrument can be used to put pressure on other broadcasters or to adopt similar sanctions, for example, against the televison channels of the 1+1 group (Medvedchuk owns a share in them) or such 'Poroshenko's television channels' as Pryamiy and Channel 5, which, according to one official, often show 'agents of Russian propaganda," the journalist said in the statement.
The union said that freedom of speech in Ukraine provides for a broad discussion of social and political issues, but only on the basis of compliance with the law. The union also said that weakness and independent media, freedom of speech, freedom of expression are the hallmarks of every democratic state.
"We call on the authorities to respect this freedom, taking care of the reliable protection of the information space of Ukraine," the union said in the statement.