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Freedom of Speech in Ukraine: Current Status and Challenges 

May 3 – The Institute of Mass Media (IMI), in partnership with the Council of Europe Directorate General for Human Rights and Rule of Law and the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, hosted the roundtable discussion “Freedom of Speech in Ukraine: Current Status and Challenges.” The event was devoted to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

More than 70 journalists, international organization representatives, members of Parliament, and representatives from law enforcement agencies participated in the roundtable. Participants included:

• Johan Bihr, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk of Reporters Without Borders;

• Olena Lytvynenko, Office of the Council of Europe in Ukraine deputy head;

• Oleksandr Opanasenko, Yuriy Pavlenko, and Hryhoriy Shverk, who represented the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy;

• Artem Shevchenko, Department for Communication director for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine;

• Oleksandr Kovtun, head of the National Police of Ukraine’s Leading Investigation Division.

In her keynote speech, IMI executive director Oksana Romaniuk talked about the increase of physical aggression against journalists in 2018. She stated the main violators of journalists’ rights were private individuals and representatives of local authority and law enforcement institutions.

Romaniuk also said observing journalists’ rights in many regions yielded alarming results. “The top five regions with the highest numbers of violations are Lutsk, Poltava, Odesa, Mykolayiv, and Kyiv,” Romaniuk said. “I have a big question to the governors and police because we know that, in Lutsk and Poltava, journalists’ statements are registered as citizens’ appeals instead of as instances of preventing journalists from doing their professional activities. I think we should go there and discuss this issue with police, because such a situation is not appropriate.”

More on IMI’s website in Ukrainian.