Open letter of the 1+1 media group regarding the actions of the Security Service of Ukraine
The 1+1 media group addresses the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, the Chairman of the VRU Dmytro Razumkov, the Chairman of the VRU Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Chairman of the VRU Committee on Freedom of Speech Nestor Shufrych, the First Deputy Chairman of the National Council for Broadcasting Olga Gerasim' yuk, to the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Ruslan Ryaboshapka with a request to draw attention to the extraordinary and unprecedented actions of the Security Service of Ukraine during the pre-trial investigation.
An open letter signed by the Chairman of the Board of the company, Yaroslav Pakholchuk, was also sent to diplomatic missions and representative offices of international organizations in Ukraine with a request to pay attention to this situation and prevent a direct encroachment on freedom of speech, which is provided for in Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine.
We present the full text of the appeal and thank all the media, partners, colleagues, public organizations, viewers and readers who are already supporting us in this unprecedented situation.
"The journalist team and management of the 1+1 Media group of companies draw your attention to the extraordinary and unprecedented actions of the Security Service of Ukraine during the pre-trial investigation.
Thus, on February 5, 2020, investigators of the Security Service of Ukraine, on the basis of the decision of the investigative judge of the Shevchenkiv District Court of Kyiv dated January 28, 2020, searched the premises of the editorial office of the "Secret Materials" program (the tenant of the premises is the foreign enterprise "1+1 Production") .
At the same time, searches were also carried out at the residence of three journalists who at different times worked in the editorial office of the Directorate of Journalistic Investigations. At the same time, there were minor children at home at the time of the search, who thus found themselves in a stressful situation.
It is important to emphasize that during the search the investigators committed a number of gross violations of the criminal procedural law. So, for example, the decision of the investigating judge provides for the search of only three workplaces of specific journalists, but SBU investigators insisted on conducting a search of the entire editorial office. Procedural violations are recorded in the search protocol, and we hope that they will be given a proper legal assessment.
However, the most important thing is the very fact of conducting a search of journalists of the program of journalistic investigations, which is related to the revealing activities of the program - the first in the entire existence of independent Ukraine. We are extremely outraged and concerned by the fact that in most cases there is no reaction from law enforcement agencies to the violations exposed by this and other journalistic investigation programs, instead, journalists themselves become the object of persecution.
This is an extremely dangerous precedent, which is created in an independent and democratic state, when the state body, called to take care of the country's security, interferes with numerous violations in the work of the editorial office, which is engaged in journalistic investigations, but does not pay attention to the objects of the investigations themselves.
The course and results of the search, which were covered by the mass media, give grounds for the conclusion that, in fact, the actions of the Security Service of Ukraine had nothing to do with the investigation of any criminal acts, but are nothing more than another attempt to put political pressure on an independent media, this time with the use of tools of criminal procedural legislation with the aim of hindering the legal activities of both individual journalists and the mass media in which they work. Against this background, the SBU statement (press release dated February 5, 2020, https://ssu.gov.ua/ua/news/1/category/2/view/7091#.onQLZChx.dpbs ) that "searches are not related to the activities of the 1+1 TV channel" are nothing but open mockery and disrespect for the entire media community. Because the search was conducted in the premises of the 1+1 company, in relation to the journalists of 1+1, and the seized office equipment belongs to 1+1.
We are convinced that such actions directly violate the right to freedom of speech, provided for in Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, and endanger the ability of Ukrainian citizens to receive reliable and timely information about events in our country and abroad. After all, the implementation of legitimate professional activities through mass media ensures the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of thought and speech, to the free expression of their views and beliefs. That is why the right of the mass media to freely disseminate information must be inviolable and ensured by the full force of state mechanisms.
Government actions can have a deterrent effect on the willingness of investigative journalists to speak out on matters of public interest and create an atmosphere of self-censorship for all investigative journalists. The inadmissibility of this has been repeatedly emphasized by the European Court of Human Rights.
Journalists of TV channels, which are part of the 1+1 Media group of companies, present as objectively as possible the information that they receive exclusively by legal means, and conduct legal activities that are aimed at the realization of their powers in the information sphere and are carried out by the means and in the order provided for by law. We believe that such activities should be provided with appropriate guarantees from the state, since only the state can guarantee the observance of journalists' rights to freedom of information gathering and freedom of speech. Instead, we see that the state chose the path of intimidation of journalists. It is noteworthy that such actions of the state body are taking place against the background of the discussion of the scandalous draft law "On Disinformation", which includes censorship mechanisms and which turns Ukraine into its northern neighbor.
We are convinced that the actions of the Security Service of Ukraine regarding the search of journalists contradict the principles of political neutrality and impartiality, according to which any state bodies and their officials are obliged to observe political neutrality in the performance of their official powers, to avoid demonstrating their own political interests in any way beliefs or views, not to use official powers in the interests of political parties or their branches or individual politicians, must act impartially, regardless of private interests, personal attitudes towards any persons, their political views, ideological, religious or other personal views or beliefs .
Under the current circumstances, the actions of the Security Service of Ukraine, unfortunately, cannot be considered other than political blackmail and a way of putting pressure on media freedom.
Taking into account all of the above, we appeal to you not to ignore this situation, to prevent encroachment on freedom of speech in Ukraine, and to take measures to prevent direct political pressure and attempts to harass independent media."