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Harassment of journalists on the rise in Ukraine — survey

A total of 26.3% of the respondents pointed to levels of aggression towards journalists growing substantially, according to the survey

KIEV, August 31. /TASS/. Journalists in Ukraine have been facing more and more harassment and aggression in their work over the past three years, suggests a survey among journalists issued by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) on Thursday.

"A total of 26.3% of the respondents pointed to levels of aggression growing substantially, and 30.3% said they ‘have grown more or less’," said the report. Most of the polled media workers say the reason behind this aggression is not the behavior of media professionals, but the interests of certain cliques and circles in structures controlling the flow of news within Ukraine.

According to the organization’s chairman, Sergey Tomilenko, these results confirm that the media sector is facing serious dangers. "We in the NUJU believe that the authorities and law enforcement agencies must publicly report to society on the investigation of crimes against journalists, as law enforcement agencies bear direct responsibility for the shortfall in justice and system-related impunity," Tomilenko explained.

The survey was carried out in July and August, when journalists from Ukrainian news agencies and other media outlets were polled. In addition, the poll was anonymous.

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine earlier issued statistics on assaults against media personnel in the country, according to which seven incidents where journalists were strong-armed were recorded in July alone. Most of those attacked were television reporters or journalists from online news sites.

To illustrate the scale of the problem, the association cited data from the US, where only 11 incidents of journalists having been strong-armed occurred since the start of the year, while in Ukraine seven such incidents were reported in just one month.

Russia’s Channel 1 state-run broadcaster reported on Wednesday that one of its journalists, Anna Kurbatova, had been abducted in Ukraine. News came later that she had been abducted by agents from Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU as her reports allegedly "damaged national interests". Late on Wednesday she was expelled from the country and placed on an entry ban blacklist for three years.

Right before being snatched off the street by Ukrainian agents, Anna Kurbatova filmed a report on the persecution of journalists in Ukraine. Several days before that Channel 1 had broadcasted her report about the military parade held on Ukraine’s Independence Day. In her coverage, she called the parade "the march of dependence" adding that the date was "a sad holiday". According to the journalist, Kiev has returned "to the turbulent 90s," while Ukraine "is absolutely dependent on the US and Europe."