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RFE/RL Reporters To Address Ukrainian Parliament Hearing On Journalists' Safety


Volodymyr Prytula heads RFE/RL’s Krym.Realii television.

Two journalists from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service will address a parliamentary hearing on journalists’ safety in Kyiv on November 6.

Mykhaylo Tkach and Volodymyr Prytula were named among the speakers by the parliamentary committee on freedom of expression.

Tkach is a reporter for the investigative journalism group Skhemy (Schemes), a joint project run by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershy television.

He will speak about the right to engage in his profession without interference.

“I will talk about how journalists should be able to carry out their journalistic activities instead of always having to waste time on protecting their right to implement this activity,” Tkach told RFE/RL.

Prytula, who heads RFE/RL’s Krym.Realii television, said his prepared remarks are devoted to the project’s work and problems it has faced during the five years since Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

“More than 60 journalists and bloggers who have worked with the Krym.Realii project have been pressured or harassed by Russian intelligence agencies,” Prytula said.

“Our columnist Mykola Semen was given 2 1/2 years of probation, and Crimean blogger Nariman Memedeminov, who has transmitted information to the Krym.Realii website, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on terrorism charges.”

Presiding over the hearings will be Olena Kondratyuk, deputy speaker of parliament.

Another speaker will be Ukrinform journalist Roman Sushchenko, who was imprisoned in Russia on what international, Ukrainian, and Russian human rights groups called trumped-up charges of espionage.

The hearings come as levels of impunity for crimes against journalists is on the rise worldwide.

In Ukraine, 16 journalists have been killed since 1995, according to the European Federation of Journalists.

On June 20, Vadym Komarov, a reporter in Ukraine's central Cherkassy region, died.

Komarov was severely beaten on May 4 by a group of unidentified men a day after he posted on Facebook that he was working on alleged corruption in sports schools. He later died from the wounds inflicted on him.

In August, the head of the presidential office, Andry Bohdan, filed a lawsuit for libel against two Schemes journalists and the project’s chief editor.

Investigators are also seeking access to Schemes’ internal documents and correspondence as part of an investigation into former President Petro Poroshenko that the project’s journalists say is “excessive” and unnecessary.

Andriy Portnov, the former deputy presidential administration head under former President Viktor Yanukovych, has between October 31 and November 5 disclosed private information about 16 editorial and staff members of Schemes, actions the group has called criminal.

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