The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the oppression against reporters by the Ukrainian authorities and called on them to ensure the press can report freely.

In late June, Igor Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian online media Strana.ua, was arrested over allegations of blackmailing Dmitry Linko, a member of the country’s Radical Party, for not disclosing materials that would compromise the party. The court ruled to keep Guzhva in custody for 60 days and on $21,000 bail. Guzhva has denied the charges.

Authorities accused the online news outlet of allegedly disclosing state secrets and searched its premises in Kiev. In addition to that, Sergey Tomilenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, who stood up for his colleagues, was criticized by a Verkhovna Rada lawmaker and received threats in social networks.

“Ukrainian authorities should end their harassment of Strana, drop all charges against Igor Guzhva, and stop fostering a hostile environment toward the press. Politicians are creating a toxic atmosphere for the media by dividing Ukrainian journalists into patriotic and unpatriotic, when they should be encouraging a wide variety of viewpoints to inform the public,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said.

According to the CPJ, it evidenced an atmosphere of harassment and intimidation against independent journalists who criticize Ukraine’s government policies during a visit of the committee’s delegation to the country in July.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide.

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