Power and freedom of speech – discussion in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet

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How to resist Russian propaganda while staying in the legal field?

KIEV – “Everything for friends, law for enemies”. This is one of the quoted phrases in the August days, which users of social networks, mainly Facebook, characterize the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities to various internal incidents..

In the field of view – Mikhail Saakashvili, his visits to Poland and Lithuania, communication on his Facebook page, the conflict between the leader of the anti-corruption public organization Shabunin and the blogger Filimonenko. And also – the expulsion from Ukraine of a Russian journalist and the arrest for two months of the Zhytomyr blogger Muravitsky on suspicion of treason.

All these cases have become the subject of discussions, in which the actions of the authorities are criticized by some, and supported by other participants..

Nevertheless, Ukrainian experts, no matter how they assess what is happening in the country, are convinced that the attitude of the authorities to journalists, public figures and politicians should be in the right field..

Freedom of speech – equal rights for all

President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Sergey Tomilenko urges not to politicize the topic of violation of the rights of journalists in general and the rights of journalists in Ukraine in particular.

But we demand from the security forces maximum publicity and reasonable actions – why do they use this or that repressive action against journalists?

“We do not question the activities of the Security Service of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the police – they can initiate criminal cases and carry out actions. But we demand from the power structures maximum publicity and reasonable actions – why do they use this or that repressive action against journalists? We are talking about the fact that the right to a point of view is not subject to criminal prosecution, “Sergei Tomilenko says to the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America..

Serhiy Tomilenko emphasizes that today in Ukraine “there are a lot of cases in which strength is demonstrated” from the authorities to the representatives of the media.

“The authorities must clearly justify their actions in relation to journalists. In the meantime, we hear rhetoric that it is unnecessary to criticize the authorities, and in this rhetoric the actions of the security apparatus are justified, “emphasizes Sergei Tomilenko.

As examples, he cites the arrest of a blogger from Zhitomir Vasily Muravitsky, searches at the editor-in-chief Igor Guzhva and some journalists from the Strana.ua edition, threats from representatives of the pro-government coalition to check the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

The best protection for citizens will be the fact that the government acts in accordance with the law “,

“The right of the strong is based on his personal ideas about enemies – this is dangerous. We are talking about the fact that the security forces and the authorities want to persecute those based on their own ideas that someone is an enemy. Today, a wide arsenal of persecution is used outside the law and the facts of violation of laws, we do not see evidence in court, and therefore we raise these issues in order not to start a “witch hunt” under the guise of the rhetoric of protecting citizens. The best protection for citizens will be the fact that the authorities act according to the law, ”emphasizes Sergei Tomilenko.

He believes that the very fact of journalistic activity, defending views in the legal plane cannot be considered a violation of the law..

Reputable international organizations support journalists all over the world and are concerned that there are many cases of pressure on the press in Ukraine.

“We are in a civilized world, and there are many international organizations that assess the rights of journalists in countries where there are conflicts, where there is no peace. Reputable international organizations support journalists all over the world and are concerned about the fact that in Ukraine there are many cases of pressure on the press, while the lack of calm and peace in the country is not an excuse for violating the rights of journalists, ”says Serhiy Tomilenko.

Examples of Western history and propaganda

Political scientist Mikhail Basarab believes that Western partners who have a humane attitude towards representatives of enemy propaganda on the territory of Ukraine should turn to the experience of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to supporters of Nazi propaganda during World War II.

“Neither Churchill nor Roosevelt stood on ceremony with politicians, activists, journalists who had an alternative point of view in a democratic society, but supported Hitler and played along with Hitler’s propaganda.

“Neither Churchill, nor Roosevelt stood on ceremony with politicians, activists, journalists who had an alternative point of view in a democratic society, but supported Hitler and played up to Hitler’s propaganda. There was no humanism or concessions to such persons, the decision of the British and American authorities regarding enemy propaganda on their territory was decisive and unambiguous, “Mikhail Basarab tells the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America.

Mikhail Basarab notes that this is not only about Ukraine’s opposition to Russian propaganda inside the country..

“Our Western partners must understand that Vladimir Putin has created a hybrid aggression not only against Ukraine, but also against the Western world in general. He is leading a massive propaganda invasion of European countries and the United States. This problem remains underestimated. Unfortunately, in the West they turn a blind eye to agents who, under the correct political legend or in the status of media workers, openly work for Russia and spread fakes, or myths beneficial to Kremlin propaganda, lies in order to destabilize the situation in the West, deceive Western society , sow chaos and political squabbles in it, ”says Mikhail Basarab.

Power and freedom of speech - discussion in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet

As examples of such actions by the Russian side, he cites data on Russia’s influence on the electoral process in the United States and European countries..

“Known facts – the same social media accounts took part in the American electoral discussions and were active during the election campaign in the Netherlands on the side of Gert Wilders, and were also involved in the anti-Ukrainian campaign. There is a lot of evidence of how Russian propaganda undermines the foundations of the Western world, ”says Mikhail Basarab..

The expert unequivocally says that “the hybrid risks of enemy propaganda on the territory of Ukraine are underestimated”, as well as the risks from negative consequences “to measure” freedom of speech by the standards of peacetime during war “.

“Everyone understands that we are in a state of real war and Russia has annexed and occupied part of the Ukrainian territories and is conducting propaganda aggression here, but all this is not named by its proper names..

“Everyone understands that we are in a state of real war and Russia has annexed and occupied part of the Ukrainian territories and is carrying out propaganda aggression here, but all this is not named by its proper names. De jure, we have a very “hybrid” attitude to what is happening. This serves as a temptation to apply the norms and principles of peacetime to what is happening in Ukraine, although we must act the way the state should act during a military aggression: do we have the right to treat enemy propaganda in this way during a real war on the territory of Ukraine? ” – asks Mikhail Basarab.

Value judgment and the power of law

Political scientist Alexei Kurinny believes that suspicions of violation of laws, including against journalists, should be as procedurally correct as possible.

“From the side of the authorities, this is a dry official language, only about what is necessary. When the authorities declare that this is a propagandist, that is a “quilted jacket,” and that one is a separatist, this also lowers the level of power and provides an argument for future appeal in the European Court of Human Rights and in other world human rights institutions, ”Aleksey Kurinny tells the correspondent of Russkaya Voice of America service.

At the same time, Oleksiy Kurinny notes that the Ukrainian authorities can act within their competence, despite “some bias in assessments at the level of international human rights organizations and the media.”.

“We saw this bias at the level of the New York Times when an article was published two days ago that Ukraine may be involved in missiles in the DPRK. Approximately the same situation with the level of argumentation occurs at the level of human rights organizations, ”notes Alexey Kurinny.

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