Masked gunmen just broke in a TV studio. Put a gun to my head and then took my phone away. I’m fine.
— Dimiter Kenarov (@dkenarov) March 6, 2014
Freelance journalist Dimiter Kenarov, who’s reporting in Crimea for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, tweeted that he’d had a gun pointed to his head outside a TV studio on Thursday. On his Twitter account, Kenarov tweets a link to a video after the attack. In a video of the attack, people around him seem … remarkably casual about the whole thing.
Katherine Doyle, an assistant editor with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, confirmed on the phone that Kenarov was held up at gunpoint. He’s been reporting in Crimea since earlier this week. On Friday, Isaac Webb reported for KyivPost that journalists and free speech are “under siege in Crimea.” Attacks have largely come from pro-Russian groups, Webb wrote.
On March 6, Russian State Duma representative Evgenii Fedorov proposed a bill to make media executives criminally responsible for allowing “the publication of false, anti-Russian information that provides information in support of extremist and separatist, anti-Russian forces, including portrayals of events beyond Russian borders.”
Threats on members of the international media covering the Russian invasion of Crimea have been increasing over the past several days. On March 5, journalists from the BBC Russian service were threatened by Russian soldiers who told them “Don’t move or we’ll shoot.” The soldiers carried a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a sniper rifle, and a grenade launcher.
On Thursday, Hadas Gold reported for Politico that CNN was told to stop filming from a hotel in Crimea.
CNN International correspondent Anna Coren told Anderson Cooper her team was told by the management of the hotel they are staying in that unless they stopped broadcasting the hotel would kick them out.
Webb reports that Ukrainian journalists are also facing pressures, but that restrictions on free speech aren’t just coming from pro-Russian supporters.
In the days following the collapse of the Yanukovych administration, lawmakers in Kyiv proposed banning broadcasts by companies from countries that are not party to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. Russia has signed but not ratified the ECTT, meaning Russian companies would be barred from broadcasting in Ukraine under the bill. On March 6, Mijatovich met with one of the parliamentarians who proposed the legislation. The deputy promised to withdraw the bill. Still, censorship of Russian media seems to be increasing in Kyiv. Reporters Without Borders reported that the cable and Internet provider Lanet had dropped three Russian TV stations for “broadcasting aggressive propaganda, calling for war and spreading hate.”
On Wednesday, Poynter wrote about two Al Jazeera America reporters working in Crimea and what they’re facing there. Reporter Nick Schifrin tweeted about an angry crowd, a slashed tire and an escort out of town on Tuesday.
But at gas station, extraordinary moment. One man comes up and whispers in English, “I am sorry. Don’t think we are all like this.”
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) March 4, 2014