Reporters Without Borders expressed its deep concern on Friday for the ongoing threats to local media in Eastern Ukraine.
The group said that anti-Kiev rebels are targeting local media, as journalists continue to gain the trust of the Eastern Ukrainian people. The anti-Kiev groups do not want to lose their power to journalists, and this tension could have "a disastrous impact" on the media, Reporter Without Borders declared.
"The local media are on the front line as the militias impose their rule and tension mounts in eastern Ukraine," Reporters Without Borders's head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk Johann Bihr said. "They play a key information role in local life, in which they are immersed, but this makes them all the more vulnerable to pressure."
Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, dozens of media personnel have been attacked, arrested or taken hostage. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimated that at least 42 journalists were attacked while covering the anti-government protests in Kiev. Non-local media, including reporters from CBS, BuzzFeed and Sky News, have also been detained by pro-Russian militants in Eastern Ukraine. Due to the overwhelming threats, many journalists have chosen to censor themselves or go into hiding, according to RWB.
"We reiterate our call to all parties to respect the work of the media and refrain from attacking them," Bihr said.