Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day

Freedom of speech and free expression of views have always been an integral part of Ukrainian society.

In 2014, Russia launched a war against our state and destroyed freedom of speech in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Persecution of journalists, unjustified searches of newsrooms and private homes, abductions and torture have turned these areas into so-called “information ghettos”.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on February 24 marked a new phase of brutal repression against independent journalism in Ukraine. In more than two months, Russian invaders have killed more than 20 Ukrainian and foreign journalists. More than a hundred regional media outlets in the temporarily occupied territories were forced to shut down due to threats, the destruction of newsrooms, and the inability to work under temporary occupation.

Radio Liberty journalist Vira Hyrych became a recent victim of Russian armed aggression. Vira was killed in a house in central Kyiv, when a Russian missile hit it. Russia committed this crime during the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Ukraine, which showed Russia’s true attitude to international institutions and the basic principles of international law.

Along with military aggression, Russia is waging an information war. The list of crimes committed by the Russian Federation against the media in Ukraine includes the murder and abduction of journalists, the shelling and seizure of TV towers, and hacking attacks on the websites.

Ukrainian cities occupied or surrounded by Russia are isolated from the Ukrainian information space, Ukrainian broadcasting, and the work of national Internet operators there are blocked.

In the occupied territories, Russia is launching its propaganda channels which are used for even greater information expansion, justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine and inciting ethnic hatred.

Ukraine, together with international partners, is coordinating efforts to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation. We are grateful to those countries that have stopped broadcasting Russian propaganda outlets on their territories.

We call on the international community to expand sanctions against the Russian media, which spread propaganda and misinformation. The media of the aggressor state must be cut off from the possibility of distorting the facts of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

We are grateful to Ukrainian and international journalists who, under difficult conditions, often risking their lives, work in combat zones to convey the truth about Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.

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