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OSCE Media Envoy Warns Ukraine Over Official's Internet Post

OSCE media-freedom representative Harlem Desir (file photo)
OSCE media-freedom representative Harlem Desir (file photo)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s media-freedom representative has expressed concern over an Internet post in which a Ukrainian official suggested that several journalists and other public figures were traitors.

"The publishing of a list, including names of journalists, accusing them of being traitors is unacceptable and dangerous," an OSCE statement on June 5 quoted media-freedom envoy Harlem Desir as saying in a letter to the Ukrainian authorities.

"This can have serious repercussions for the safety of journalists," Desir wrote. "I strongly encourage the authorities to intervene and suspend such practices, especially those undertaken by government officials, given the sensitive and difficult environment in Ukraine at the moment."

The rebuke referred to a Facebook post in which Larysa Sarhan, a spokeswoman for Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko, listed about 25 people and included remarks that in some cases contained criticism of the state regarding journalists' safety and alleged impunity for crimes against media.

Sarhan's post and the OSCE representative's criticism came amid controversy over the faked killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv on May 29.

The list Sarhan posted included journalist Myroslava Gongadze, National Union of Journalists Chairman Serhiy Tomilenko, and former Odesa region Governor Mikheil Saakashvili, who is a vocal foe of President Petro Poroshenko's government.