Media Freedom Coalition Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and Assault on Media Freedom

The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition strongly condemnRussia’s premeditated, unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine with theparticipation of Belarus. We reiterate our staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereigntyand territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine.

As the situation rapidly deteriorates, we are seriously concerned that the RussianFederation is completely supressing journalists and media workers from reporting onevents that are taking place on the ground in order to control the information space,
including through Russian disinformation. The same applies to Belarus, which supportsRussia’s aggression against Ukraine and continues to further exacerbate the alreadyextremely troubling situation for media freedom in their country.

The Kremlin is throttling or blocking access to many social media platforms. It is alsoblocking the websites of many of the few remaining Russian independent media outlets.
The BBC, TV5 Monde, CBC/Radio-Canada, CNN, CBS, ABC News, Bloomberg, Radio FreeEurope, Radio Liberty, and others are moved to suspend their operations in Russia due tonew legislation that criminalizes any individual or organization accused of sharing whatRussia views as “fake news” about Russia’s war in Ukraine. While media organizations maydecide to re-commence their reporting from Russia, they do so in the face of ongoing riskposed by the new law. We strongly condemn Russia for passing this repressive law thatunduly restricts journalists and media workers from carrying out their vital, independent,

Putin’s campaign of intimidation and repression against journalists and media workers isaimed at preventing the people of Russia from accessing accurate and independentinformation about the illegal and reprehensible acts being perpetrated in their nameagainst Ukraine. Free access to information is important to the exercise of the right tofreedom of opinion and expression.

We also strongly condemn Russia’s longstanding use of coordinated disinformationcampaigns against Ukraine, most recently, to create false pretexts to attempt to justifytheir illegal and immoral acts and to conceal the atrocities they are committing. Theongoing efforts by the Kremlin to muzzle local journalists and foreign correspondentsproviding fact-based coverage of the war are a violation of international human rights law.
Therefore, the Media Freedom Coalition welcomes the steps already taken by onlineplatforms and calls to take further action to prevent state-sponsored disinformation,
including that propagated by Russia Today and Sputnik, and the sanctions adopted bymany governments against the individuals in charge of these Russian state-media.

Independent media has a crucial role in all societies. Journalists and media workers mustbe allowed to safely carry out their work, particularly in times of conflict. We condemnattacks on journalists, including the brutal killing of a Ukrainian TV station LIVEcameraman following a Russian airstrike on a TV broadcast tower in Kyiv, as well as theattacks on journalists of the Sky News, Ekstra Bladet, RSF, Alaraby TV, and other mediaoutlets. We call on Russia to immediately end the brutal crackdown on independentmedia and to respect the rights of journalists and media workers in accordance withinternational human rights law and international humanitarian law. We call out all violationsof the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including attacks on journalists andmedia outlets. These cannot be tolerated.

We stand with journalists and media workers who, at great personal risk and sacrifice,
work to bring Russia’s human rights violations and abuses to light. We commend theirprofessionalism and resilience to ensure the free flow of independent information despitethe most challenging circumstances.


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