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    A photographer takes a picture of an armed man in military fatigues standing guard outside the security service (SBU) regional building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 23, 2014

    Deafening Silence: Western Media Silent on Ukraine's Russian News Agency Raid

    © AFP 2018 / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
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    Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) raided the RIA Novosti news agency’s Kiev offices on Tuesday and detained the outlet’s local bureau chief, Kirill Vyshinsky, for acts of “treason.” The homes of RIA Novosti’s employees were also searched by security forces on May 15, according to reports.

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry quickly condemned the raids on RIA Novosti’s facilities in Ukraine, and the detention of Mr. Vyshinsky, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin telling reporters today that Moscow has sent “two notes of protest” to Kiev over the matter.

    READ MORE: Moscow Sent 2 Notes of Protest to Kiev Over Situation Around Russian Journalists

    “He was detained as a Ukrainian citizen. The [Russian] embassy is in contact with the relevant Ukrainian authorities. We know that the detained journalist was transferred to Kherson, and our consul in Odessa has the relevant mandate. We will work to clarify the situation and keep you posted," the deputy Russian FM told reporters today.

    US Defends Kiev's Actions 

    When asked a question about Kiev's actions, during a press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said it should be done "in accordance with the law" but supported Kiev in defending itself against “Russian propaganda.”

    “The arrests of journalists or searches taken of media outlets, if that is done, it has to be done in accordance with the law. It is something that includes international human rights law. We take those actions seriously. We hope that the government takes those actions very seriously. We understand that Ukraine, like a lot of other countries, has been concerned about intense propaganda,” the spokeswoman said on May 15.

    “Goodness, when we talk with a lot of our allies and partners overseas, they certainly have fallen victim and understand the influence and the reach of Russian propaganda. So we do understand Ukraine’s concerns about that.”

    Mainstream Media's Deafening Silence & Social Media Response 

    Although the SBU’s operation and subsequent detention of journalist Kirill Vyshinsky have received some coverage in global news, the mainstream media in the west has opted to completely ignore the development, which is an alarming act of aggression and censorship against a news agency.

    As confirmed by searches of their websites for "Vyshinsky", BBC News, the Independent, CNN, Fox News, and Euro News made no mention of the raids or the journalist's detention in any of the articles, over 24 hours after the incident.  

    The western mainstream media’s reaction to Mr. Vyshinsky’s detention starkly contrasts to its previous response to similar cases of apparent censorship or mistreatment of journalists from non-Russian news agencies.

    The arrest of three Al Jazeera journalists in late December 2013 and their subsequent detention by Egypt sparked global media uproar. In the case of RIA Novosti, the mainstream media has not only not defended the journalists’ right to report and disseminate information or criticized their mistreatment, but have failed to cover the story and bring it to their readers’ attention.   

    Although the MSM is silent, many have taken to social media platforms, using #TruthNotTreason to express their support for the journalists and pressure the Ukrainian authorities into releasing Mr. Vyshinsky.

    International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Calls for Journalist's 'Immediate Release'

    Anthony Bellanger, the deputy general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), called on Kiev to "immediately release" the detained RIA Novosti journalist, in an interview with Sputnik France

    "The International Federation of Journalists supports the Russian Union of Journalists, which is a member of our organization. Yesterday, in my capacity as general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, I called on Ukrainian authorities to immediately release our Russian colleague,"Mr. Bellanger told Sputnik today.

    "Freedom of the press is guaranteed by Article of 34 of the Ukrainian Constitution, and Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It is inadmissible, in a democratic country, to imprison journalists who are fulfilling their professional duty to inform the public," he added. 

    HRW Says Evidence Should be Presented 

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) Europe and Central Asia Division Deputy Director Rachel Denber also warned that Kiev would be violating its human rights obligations if it was detaining Mr. Vyshinsky for without proof of any wrongdoing, and called for the evidence to be presented. 

    "The Ukrainian authorities should immediately clarify what, if any, evidence they have to substantiate the extremely serious criminal accusations they have launched against Vyshinsky. Criminalizing expression that represents views the authorities disapprove of is out of line with Ukraine’s human rights obligations," Ms. Denber told Sputnik on May 16. 

    She went on to say that the global fight against propaganda should not "lead to disproportionate interference in the work of journalists and media outlets."

    READ MORE: Kiev Should Clarify Evidence Behind Accusations Against Vyshinsky – HRW

    US Radio Host Ties Detention to Crimea Bridge

    Meanwhile, Don Debar, US host of the CPR radio newscast said Kiev is making excuses to “extinguish” free press access in the country.

    “The puppet regime in Kiev lacks the public relations skills of its CIA sponsors. The claim that Russian media is an existential threat to the ‘western democratic values’ exemplified by the Bandera worshippers is used to extinguish the actual democratic right to a free press.”

    The host went on to suggest that Ukrainian forces launched the raid in response to the opening of a 12-mile bridge connecting Crimea to the mainland.

    “Mr. Vyshinsky's ‘crime’ in the eyes of this crew was by somehow ‘discrediting the Armed Forces of Ukraine’ by reporting the facts on the ground. This charge was brought almost simultaneously with the opening of the bridge between Crimea and the rest of the Russian Federation. Its purpose, and its timing, show how desperate and amateurish the Banderites are.”

    READ MORE: Journalists Arrest Unacceptable in Democracies — IFJ on RIA Novosti Ukraine Case

     

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    Tags:
    journalism, censorship, detention, SBU, U.S. Department of State, Russian Foreign Ministry, RIA Novosti, Kirill Vyshinsky, Heather Nauert, Grigory Karasin, Kiev, United States, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt
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