Freedom of Speech in Occupied Donbas

Today, on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the world recognizes the need to protect freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens. This issue is extremely pressing in the areas of Donbas occupied by Russia since 2014.

As a result of systematic efforts, Russia has completely destroyed free and independent media in its puppet republics “DNR/LNR”, isolating the citizens of occupied Donbas in a bubble of propagandistic media and, at the same time, making objective coverage of the occupation realities for audiences outside impossible.

It is unknown to the general public how many people are currently in places of detention in the occupied territories due to journalistic activities. Accounts of those who return to the government-controlled Ukraine through exchanges illustrate that many of them are civilians arrested due to posts on social networks judged by the occupation authorities as “justification of Ukraine’s armed aggression”. The latter is already enough to be imprisoned but often these accusations are accompanied by “espionage” and “treason” charges to ensure longer sentences.

We summed up the key facts on the freedom of speech in occupied Donbas, or rather lack thereof, in the infographic above.