Intimidation of the media in Ukraine and Crimea began even before the annexation of the latter by Russia, which has influenced Crimea to pressure any media critical of Russia's interference in Ukraine's political turmoil.
Black Sea Channel can now report on wire services and the Internet, which make up about half of all news coverage, while its broadcasting of programmes is “harassed” by Crimea with Russia’s backing.
Nation Multimedia Group editor-in-chief Thepchai Yong and Nation TV foreign news editor Krailuck Ngamsopa, operating under “Thepchai Live from Ukraine”, are now on a mission to cover the situation in Crimea around the clock. In the current episode, Thepchai emphasises that the media’s professionalism is under threat of intimidation by Crimean and Russian authorities.
Russia views the Ukrainian media and Black Sea Channel as uncooperative with its role and its annexation of Crimea this month. Crimea television channels now carry Russian-made or pro-Russian programmes. Many programmes are propaganda about the Crimean people being happy about their “homecoming”, while crying in joy or singing the Russian anthem.
Several programmes produced by Russian media, marking the 15th anniversary of the end of the wars that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia, mention the West’s roles in the eight-year conflict in that region and its support for the establishment of Kosovo as an independent republic in 2008.
Staff and reporters at Black Sea Channel and other media in Ukraine, who are mostly of Tartar ethnicity, have been harassed, intimidated or even assaulted if their coverage does not endorse Russia’s role in the Ukrainian unrest and annexation of Crimea.
A Black Sea Channel newscaster said it was difficult for media members to stay neutral in the current situation in Ukraine. “It would be very difficult only to stick to facts or do one’s job professionally and independently. If you don’t support someone, and if you try to do your job in a straightforward manner, you don’t have a future in the media,” she said.
The woman said she was considering seeking a media job elsewhere, or in another country.
“This is a challenging situation for media members in the current situation in Crimea and Ukraine – to stick to media professionalism on the one hand and on the other to stay safe from intimidation or favouritism,” she said.