Today marks the International Day of Ending Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
Since 2014 Russia's war against Ukraine has been marked by crimes against journalists and the destruction of independent journalism in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
Murders and abductions of media representatives, arrests, seizure of television towers, groundless searches of editorial premises - only a small list of crimes committed by the Russian occupiers against media.
Since February 2022, during eight months of a full-scale aggression, Russia committed 457 crimes against journalists and media in Ukraine, according to the monitoring data of the Institute of Mass Information. As of October 2022, the Russian occupiers have killed more than forty Ukrainian and foreign journalists.
We also note the alarming deterioration of the situation with human rights and freedom of speech in the temporarily occupied Crimea. After the occupation in 2014, when independent journalists were forced out of the peninsula or arrested, the phenomenon of citizen journalism developed on the peninsula. Ordinary citizens, risking their lives, joined in covering the crimes of the Russian occupiers. According to human rights defenders, currently 14 journalists, in particular, citizen journalists, are being held behind bars in occupied Crimea or on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The invasion of Russian troops became a new record of brutal repression against representatives of the regional media: hundreds of media in the temporarily occupied territories were forced to stop their work due to threats and impossibility of carrying out journalistic activities under the conditions of temporary occupation.
Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia are systematically isolated from the Ukrainian information space, Ukrainian broadcasting, and the work of national Internet providers are blocked there, instead, the occupiers broadcast Russian state channels.
Russia is also waging an active information war, spreading disinformation about Ukraine, conducting special operations to destabilize society and discredit relations with our international partners.
It is critical now to consolidate joint efforts to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation, including by terminating the activities of Russian propaganda broadcasters abroad.
In this context, we call on the international community to introduce and expand sanctions against the Russian state media that spread false information, including to justify Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine and its partners will also continue to make all efforts to investigate Russian crimes against journalists in Ukraine, and the activities of Russian propagandists who are involved in criminal information operations as an integral part of a full-scale war against Ukraine.
Those guilty of these crimes will be held to the strictest account.
We also express our gratitude to thousands of Ukrainian and international journalists who, often risking their own lives, tell the world the truth about the war in Ukraine.