Ukrainians rallied in the streets of Kiev to topple their former leader. Now they are facing a new threat: Russian attacks on Ukrainian media outlets.
A new video released by CCTV news shows a Bulgarian journalist and other reporters being held at gunpoint by a masked assailant. The video of the attack, which occurred on March 6 on the streets of Simferopol, in the Crimea region, has now gone viral.
After the incident, the same Bulgarian journalist said, “It’s a war situation here, almost. There is no law currently. The people who are doing this are obviously not following any laws.”
Recent threats to media have coincided with the March 16 referendum on the succession of Crimea from Ukraine. Fox News reported, “More than 95 percent of Crimea voters, who are largely ethnic Russians, approved splitting off and joining Russia, with more than 50 percent of the ballots being counted, the referendum committee said late Sunday.”
The White House and other European countries rejected the referendum and imposed economic sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, on March 17, Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state.
According to The Huffington Post, on March 3, Black Sea TV, Crimea’s only independent channel, was shut down. Oleksandra Kvitko, the channel’s head editor, said a Crimean governing body made the decision based on threats the journalists received.
Several media outlets, including the state TV and radio broadcasting company Krym and the Center for Investigative Journalism in Simferopol were seized by armed men in early March 2014, and a dozen media representatives have been beaten up in early March. On 9 March, two groups of journalists from the Glavkom and Ukrainskyy Tyzhden news portals were detained and some of them kidnapped by unidentified men in military uniform at a checkpoint near Armyansk in northern Crimea. According to MLI, they were mistreated and released two days later.
In a public address, Oleksandra V. Turchynov, the acting president of Ukraine, declared, “This is the red alert. This not a threat. This is actually the declaration of war to my country. We are on the brink of a disaster.”
In addition, Reuters reported from Moscow that President Vladimir Putin, now in his third term, oversaw the passage of a new law on March 13 that blocks the Internet sites of popular Kremlin political opponents Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov—a move designed to silence dissent.
As Heritage policy expert Nile Gardiner wrote on The Foundry, “Crimeans went to the polls under conditions of occupation and massive intimidation, with dissenting voices ruthlessly suppressed, Ukrainian media shut down, foreign journalists beaten on the streets, and international observers barred from the region.”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.