09:12 GMT04 August 2020
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    Ukrainian authorities appear to be purposefully discrediting journalists who criticize them, especially those who brand them as "agents of Moscow," Sergey Tomilenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, said Thursday.

    KIEV (Sputnik) — Last week, Ukrainian Vesti media outlet reported that security services were searching its offices in the Gulliver trade center in Kiev, halting the outlet's work. According to Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatolii Matios, over 180 searches at the trade center were being conducted in offices owned by former Revenues and Duties Minister Oleksandr Klymenko, including the editorial office of Radio Vesti.

    "We are now seeing a dangerous tendency for politicization of any material that contains any criticism of the authorities. It is very easy to blame, discredit [journalists] instead of making progress in the protection of journalists' rights. For example, to say that they are not adhering to journalists' standards when doing their job, that they are linked to oligarchs, better yet — to Moscow," Tomilenko told Strana.ua outlet.

    According to him, the allegation of having ties to Moscow was becoming "a justification for the authorities" and that was no reason "they should not protect journalists, [or] help them fight for their rights."

    "A person is blamed for all possible things to form the desired negative image of a journalist or an editing board in the society. As soon as the stereotype becomes habitual, the authorities use it: since the reputation is destroyed, it is possible to come to the newsroom with guns. It seems like the politicians are cultivating these processes, preparing the necessary background to settle their differences with journalists using force," Tomilenko said.

    Tomilenko also said that the authorities had to unequivocally condemn Mirotvorets outlet, which is known for publishing personal information of journalists, activists, and those who participated in military activities in the east of Ukraine.

    According to Tomilenko, the authorities and the Interior Minister's aide were "raising 'attack dogs'" whose mission was "to attack journalists and civic activists when commanded." The head of the Journalists Union added that an outlet that puts journalists' lives at risk cannot be supported by the government.

    At the end of June, searches were carried out in the building of Strana.ua outlet. Its editor-in-chief, Igor Guzhva, was arrested over allegations of blackmailing a politician. Guzhva has denied the charges.


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