Statement by the delegation of Ukraine before the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly on Questions Relating to Information

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine before the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly on Questions Relating to Information

Mr. Chair,

Ukraine aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. In my national capacity, I would like to add the following.

We are grateful to Under-Secretary-General Madame Alison Smale for the presentation of the Secretary-General’s report on questions relating to information.

My delegation cannot agree more that there is a need to transform the Department of Public Information into a leader with a global voice in information and content about the purposes and work of the United Nations for the benefit of those it serves.

In this regard, Ukraine welcomes the efforts being undertaken under the DPI reform process. Initiatives for change in the areas of leadership and strategy, resource management and operational efficiency should create a solid basement for rapid and integrated communications making the United Nations stories engage people in the languages they understand and via media platforms with a particular focus on modern digital means.

Mr. Chair,

Ukraine recognizes the fundamental importance of freedom of expression, and free, independent and pluralistic media as a core element of democracy. My delegation believes that free media and professional journalism play a decisive role in the processes of democratic transformation in every country.

Ukraine remains committed to further strengthening the environment for free media and continues to take consistent measures on a national level with a view to protecting freedom of expression and strengthening the safety of journalists in line with the relevant commitments.

However, the biggest challenge to media freedom and security in Ukraine is the Russian military aggression which has been underway against my country for four years now. As part of its hybrid warfare, Russia launched a massive campaign of propaganda and incitement of hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians. Russian state-owned media and public figures are spending hours in a prime time on the television to promote insinuations about the Ukrainian people. This has already played a significant role in the occupation of Crimea and fueling the conflict in Donbas.

The areas of utmost concern remain the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol and parts of Donbas, illegally occupied by the Russian Federation. These areas have been made by the occupation administrations “exclusion zones” for Ukrainian media outlets. The Ukrainian media has been eliminated and replaced by the Russian propaganda sources. Numerous reports of the UNHCR on the human rights situation in Ukraine called on Russia to refrain from criminalizing free speech and quash all penalties imposed on Crimean residents for expressing dissenting views, including regarding the status of Crimea.

In too many cases, journalists and bloggers telling the true story about and opposing Russia’s occupation of the territories Ukraine are physically targeted. Such is the case of Ukrainian writer and journalist Stanislav Aseyev (pen name Stanislav Vasin), who has stayed in Donetsk since it was occupied by Russia-controlled and supported terrorists, was writing articles in top Ukrainian media outlets about the situation in Donbas and his life under occupation, and in mid-2017 was kidnapped and incarcerated by the occupation forces under the absurd charges of “espionage”.

Targeting Ukrainian activists and journalists has become a tactic that Russia itself uses against my country.

For one, we reiterate our resolute protest against ongoing unlawful actions of the Russian Federation towards Roman Sushchenko, a foreign correspondent for Ukrainian online news agency UKRINFORM, who has been put behind bars and prosecuted by the Russian authorities for his opposition to the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

We demand from the Russian Federation Mr. Sushchenko’s immediate release. We also call on Member States to condemn this cynical crime against fundamental human rights and step up political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to ensure that all illegally detained citizens of Ukraine are released and guaranteed safe return home.

Mr. Chair,

It is clear that such hybrid hostile practices involving state-controlled media is a direct threat to United Nations values. The Committee and other United Nations bodies should rapidly react to all such attempts to falsify information and to use it as a tool for fuelling regional conflicts.

My government continues to believe that the international community should redouble its efforts in identifying best practices and tools to deal with this global threat. We are convinced that information security is a key element in every national security system, and the United Nations should become a beacon for it by identifying and holding to account those who engage in propaganda wars.

I thank you, Mr. Chair.