On the 17th of March, 2015, at the Kyiv cafe Ziferblat a meeting in the format of the OSCE Café event with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović took place. Among participants of the event there were active young journalists and Republicans, who despite a difficult time in Ukraine were not afraid to ask sharp and urgent questions.
This publication highlights the OSCE attitude on the occurrences in Ukraine, describes the importance of the compliance of all standards of the freedom of expression, especially at the war time, which truly is the only effective method of combating propaganda.
At the beginning of the meeting the Ambassador Vaidotas Verba, who is a OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, was introduced, and his colleagues from the OSCE, representatives from the monitoring mission among others as well. They told about what issues the Organization’s for Security and Co-operation in Europe mandate includes, what is the OSCE in Ukraine about, and described policies and projects which are implementing in the country, particularly in eastern Ukraine and in the Crimea. It should be mentioned that the OSCE is an authoritative international association of the 57 participating states that promotes peace in the world, and is actively involved into the peace process relating to the armed conflict in Ukraine.
Then Dunja Mijatović told about her own activities at the position of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, briefly pointed the OSCE’s attitudes on the events in Ukraine during Euromaidan and now, and paid attention to the freedom of speech and support, and the protection of journalists.
Answering questions, Mijatović introduced the main message: only the truth, no matter whether it is favorable or not, can be the major tool in the information war. She added that she didn’t support the position of patriotic journalists as there can be no excuse for any kind of propaganda or distortion of information.
Poltava Republican leader Oleh Slyzko told that last year in December representatives ofStudrespublika visited Russia where they tried to convey the truth to local journalists and activists. At that time Russians noted that in Ukraine, in contradistinction to Russia, there definitely was a genuine freedom of speech, everybody could discuss and write about anything they wanted. Hence there popped up a question: where is the frontier between freedom and responsibility? Dunja Mijatović underlined the importance of the attempts of Ukrainians to communicate with Russian journalists, and she said that the OSCE is also engaging journalists in dialogue, but just professionals, not propagandists who only deepen the hostility among people and countries. She noted that in a situation which is now in Ukraine, the frontier between freedom and responsibility is a fine line, and it is crossed very often, as it’s very easy to do.
Pavlo Viknyanskyy, a leader of Ukrainian Republicans, showed his interest in OSCE’s reaction to the story of a journalist from Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Kotsaba, who is in jail for expressing his civic position. Viknyanskyy asked what to do if journalists and activists, who said alternative, objectionable for the government or political opponents, things, were persecuted, arbitrarily sentenced as рашисти or traitors. Responding to that, Dunja Mijatović said that she knew about the situation, and that from her office a letter had been already sent to the Ukrainian authorities on the need to release this person.
As for labeling people of independent positions, Mijatović said that this is the price we pay not only at times of conflict. It may happen at any time, and we cannot avoid it, so we have only to ‘continue telling the truth, continue our struggle and continue to defend freedom of expression by ourselves and through various organizations as well’.
At the end of the meeting, Mijatović emphasized the importance of the open dialogue between Ukraine and the OSCE, proposed to monitor the activities of the OSCE through the website and social networks.
It should be noted that Republicans consistently maintain the importance of compliance of all standards of independent media, in particular, on the 2nd of December 2013 at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Studrespublika held a public lecture by the director of the Office of theOSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Professor Andrey Rikhter, on ‘Legal conditions of media freedom for providing social progress: the European experience and possible future scenarios’.