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Ukraine rises in World Press Freedom Index despite constraints of full-scale war

by Kateryna Denisova May 3, 2024 7:00 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian and international reporters attend President Volodymyr Zelensky's press conference on April 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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Ukraine rose from 79th to 61st place in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on May 3.

The index is determined by five factors, including the given country’s security, legal framework, and economic, political, and socio-cultural contexts.

Worldwide, it is the political indicator that has fallen most, creating major challenges for press freedom, according to the organization.

"RSF sees a worrying decline in support and respect for media autonomy and an increase in pressure from the state or other political actors," the report read.

There were a few incidents in Ukraine over the past months in what the Ukrainian media view as mounting pressure against the press.

In April, Yevhenii Shulhat, a Slidstvo.Info journalist, published an investigation into Illia Vitiuk, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) cybersecurity chief, that led to Vitiuk's dismissal. Shulhat was reportedly later targeted by enlistment officers in retaliation.

Other incidents included the illegal surveillance of investigative outlet Bihus.Info and threats to journalist Yurii Nikolov.

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, media censorship has intensified "in a spectacular mimicry of Russian repressive methods," RSF wrote.

Russia's ongoing full-scale war against Ukraine has had a major impact on the media ecosystem and the safety of journalists, according to the report.

"The war launched by Russia on 24 February 2022 threatens the survival of the Ukrainian media. In this information war, Ukraine is on the front line of resistance against the expansion of the Kremlin’s propaganda system," Reporters Without Borders said.

The organization added that nevertheless, Ukraine moved up 18 places over the past year due to improvements in its security indicator — fewer journalists killed — and its political indicator.

A total 0f 83 media workers have been killed since 2014 as a result of Russia's war against Ukraine, according to the Institute for Mass Information (IMI). Over 25 Ukrainian journalists remain in Russian captivity, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the head of the Ukrainian parliament's Committee on Freedom of Speech, said in January.

Recent campaigns against journalists raise concerns about press freedom in Ukraine
Investigative journalists in Ukraine came under two attacks in just the past week, one involving a threatening home visit and another using covert surveillance. The two incidents are the latest in a series of discrediting campaigns against independent Ukrainian media, often supported by anonymous p…
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