OSCE reports violations of rights of UOJ journalists

Oleg Denisov made a presentation at the OSCE meeting in Warsaw. Photo: screen video

Oleg Denisov, President of NGO Public Advocacy, called on the OSCE to ensure effective control over high-profile crimes committed against the UOJ journalists.

During a recent OSCE meeting in Warsaw, Oleg Denisov, the head of non-governmental human rights organization Public Advocacy in special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC, reported violations of the rights of journalists from the Union of Orthodox Journalists and cleric of the UOC, Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy. Video speeches are published on the NGO’s YouTube channel.

In his report, Denisov pointed out the need to ensure the lawful and actual investigation of explicit and overt criminal offences being committed against journalists with the perpetrators well known.

“The OSCE should ensure effective control in high-profile cases of crimes committed against journalists and ensure that civil society understands the response to information received about violations, at least by reflecting its assessment in OSCE reports,” said the head of the NGO Public Advocacy.

He noted that in Ukraine, a number of crimes against journalists and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been committed with the help of radicals who do not hide their actions but, nevertheless, are not held accountable.

“For example, in January 2018, the radicals attacked the Union of Orthodox Journalists, an information agency that covers violations of the rights of the UOC believers. Immediately after the attack on the UOJ office, radicals from S14 attacked the Tithe Monastery and a few months later – the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. All these offences were public: violators recorded these events on video and published in their accounts on social networks. We managed to open criminal proceedings on the fact of these attacks, but we were able to do this only through a court by appealing against the actions of the police, which refused to open the proceedings. The court allowed to open the proceedings and almost two years have passed, but despite the fact that the criminals revealed their identities and recorded their crimes themselves, they were not held accountable,” he said.

Also, the head of the NGO Public Advocacy drew attention to the situation of persons who defend the rights of believers of the UOC and give testimonies to journalists citing Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy, a clergyman of the Rovno diocese, who is currently being prosecuted in Ukraine for protecting the rights of believers and "actually for freedom of speech".

Denisov emphasized that such cases "very often cannot be resolved within Ukraine, even by appealing to the law enforcement system, and the involvement of international authorities is necessary here."

As reported by the UOJ, on September 18, 2019, at the OSCE HDIM-2019 meeting in Warsaw, the NGO Public Advocacy announced the failure to investigate the criminal offence of members of the right-wing organization S14 against the UOJ.

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