OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said harassment of journalists in Ukraine must stop, and that members of the media must be able to perform their work, according to a message from the OSCE.
"I call on all responsible parties to ensure safety of journalists in Simferopol, Donetsk and Kharkiv and to stop interfering with their work," Mijatović said.
According to reports, on 3 March the Chernomorskaya television and radio channels, the largest independent broadcaster on Crimean peninsula, was shut down.
On 3 March the Council of Ministers of Crimea also issued a statement threatening to stop the rebroadcast of a number of Ukrainian channels from Kyiv.
"I reiterate that in difficult and sensitive situations such as the current one in Ukraine, media freedom and plurality of opinions must be ensured," Mijatovic said. "All citizens must have the right to receive all available information, irrespective of its source, without censorship from the authorities and regardless of frontiers."
Mijatović noted that on 2 March a group of about 30 men, in military uniform, targeted offices of the Information and Press Centre, a hub for independent media in the region, and the Crimean Centre for Investigative Journalism in Simferopol.
She also noted the continued physical harm to journalists, with attacks in Donestsk and Kharkiv, where journalists of Radio Liberty, Perviy Delovoi and the Ura-Inform Donbass portal were assaulted by protesters in the presence of law enforcement officers who did not intervene.
"I strongly encourage all parties to refrain from restrictive and violent practices. Silencing media is not acceptable under any circumstances, and especially not in times of crisis," Mijatović said.
Mijatović visits Ukraine from 4 to 7 March 2014.