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Moscow supports OSCE stance against media restrictions in Ukraine

August 13, 2014, 20:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Security of journalists working in Ukraine’s war-torn southeastern regions repeatedly raised international concerns, particularly following a series killings of Russian over the two months

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© ITAR-TASS / Maxim Nikitin

MOSCOW, August 13. /ITAR-TASS/.  The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its support on Wednesday of the principal stance assumed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) disapproving Ukraine’s intentions to introduce media restrictions.

“We understand the call of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic to lawmakers from the Verkhovna Rada to provisions of the law ‘On sanctions’ endangering media freedom of speech and pluralism that go against OSCE commitments,” a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Russia has repeatedly turned world society’s attention to systematic violations freedom of speech and journalists’ security in Ukraine,” the spokesman said. “We support OSCE’s principal stance on disapproval Kiev’s attempts to turn the policy of media restrictions into the rank of law.”

Addressing Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Olexander Turchynov, Mijatovic wrote in her letter on Tuesday “I call on the members of the Verkhovna Rada to drop the provisions of the law endangering media freedom and pluralism and going against OSCE commitments on free expression and free media.”

“The measures included in the draft law represent a clear violation of international standards and thus directly curtail the free flow of information and ideas - the concept that lies at the heart of free expression and free media. The draft law effectively reverses much of Ukraine’s progress in media freedom,” she said.

“All citizens must have the right to access all available information, irrespective of its source, without interference from the authorities and regardless of geographical or political boundaries, so that universally recognised human rights and democratic processes can be reaffirmed and strengthened,” she added.

Security of journalists working in Ukraine’s war-torn southeastern regions repeatedly raised international concerns, particularly following a series killings of Russian and international journalists over the two months.

Russian television journalist Anatoly Klyan was killed in late June after a bus he was riding in with other journalists came under fire in the Donetsk Region. The 68-year-old journalist worked as a cameraman for state-run television broadcaster Channel One and had 40 years of television work experience.

Two correspondents from Russian central television and radio broadcasting company VGTRK, special correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin, were killed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on June 17.

They came under mortar fire near a roadblock of militia as they were filming a TV report about people’s militias helping to evacuate refugees from the combat zone. Journalists bore clearly visible media insignia at the moment of the attack. According to eyewitnesses, a mortar shell exploded near the Russian filming crew. Sound engineer Voloshin died at the scene and Kornelyuk died later at a local hospital.

On May 24, Italian photo correspondent Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter Andrey Mironov were killed in mortar fire near the city of Sloviansk.

In the most recent developments concerning the work of journalists in Ukraine, Russia’s largest state-run news agencies Rossiya Segodnya (formerly known as RIA Novosti) reported this week that its photo journalist Andrei Stenin was allegedly held captive by Ukrainian security forces after he went missing on August 5.

For a week the Ukrainian authorities ignored constant inquiries and appeals from the Russian Embassy in Ukraine, the OSCE and the International Federation of Journalists, and the European Union’s concerns.

The Ukrainian National Security Service kept silent about the journalist’s whereabouts and denied that it was holding any members of Russian mass media.

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