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Journalists impeded from reporting on local elections in Ukraine

Observers wait for the start of ballot counting at a polling station after voting day in Kiev, 25 October 2015
Observers wait for the start of ballot counting at a polling station after voting day in Kiev, 25 October 2015

REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Several journalists were obstructed from carrying out their work during the recent local elections in Ukraine. On 26 October 2015, the Institute of Mass Information reported the following:

On one of the polling stations in Vinnytsia, there was a clash between the journalist of Vlasno.info and unidentified individuals. School No.36 – located at the end of Pyrohova street – hosts two polling stations, and journalists decided to visit both.

Several candidates visited, and journalists noticed that the seals on the ballot boxes were not appropriately attached. They called the police to register this fact. As everyone was paying attention to the candidates, an unknown man approached a journalist who was trying to video record the event. He told her not to record, as he did not like to be recorded (although no one actually recorded him specifically). He pushed the journalist out of the room and took her camera, with police doing nothing to help the journalist. Later, he claimed the journalist gave him the camera on her own will. He was rude and aggressive, and said the journalist should have no complaints, as he returned the camera to her. The police officers, who were on duty at the polling stations, accused the journalist of provoking the incident, instead of helping her.

The events that took place later (overheard conversation on "bulletins that will be brought here in the evening" and many expensive cars coming to the polling station location) might suggest that some kind of cheating with boxes and seals was being prepared, yet anyone who tried to claim this and act on it (like journalists) was accused of trying to disrupt the elections.

On 26 October 2015, IMI also wrote about a separate instance of impediments facing journalists and elections observers:

In Lutsk, at 2 a.m. on October 26, observers, candidates, and journalists were not allowed to be present at an evening session of the district election committee, OPORA press service informs. The head of the committee said no one has a right to enter the room where the session is held except committee members, including candidates, observers and journalists, rendering the session completely non-transparent. Observers from the civil network OPORA filed a complaint to the police regarding this incident, as it violates both the law "On Local Elections" and provisions of the laws regulating journalism.

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