Media movement statement on pressure and threats against journalists of Texty.org.ua

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We, Ukrainian journalists and media organizations, participants of the Media Movement, are shocked and categorically condemn the wave of pressure, slander, and threats received by independent Ukrainian media “Texty” (Texty.org.ua).

Cover by Institute of Mass Information

On June 6, “Texty” published a study titled “American Swings: From Trumpists to Communists, Who and How Advocates for Halting Aid to Ukraine.” The study analyzed the political, media, and expert environment in the United States, which influences decision-making about further support for Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The study contains a list of organizations and individuals in the U.S. who oppose supporting Ukraine. “Texty” did not condemn their right to freedom of expression but merely stated the fact that they are against supporting Ukraine and that many of their arguments resonate with Russian propaganda narratives about Ukraine.

Following the publication of the study, “Texty” faced a massive wave of hate, threats, calls to cut off their funding, and various other forms of pressure. All this intense pressure on the Ukrainian research media comes from representatives and supporters of the Republican Party of the USA, who should defend freedom of speech as a fundamental component of democracy and to be a reference  for other countries.

  • Daniel McAdams, Director of the Ron Paul Institute, claimed that the Ukrainian media “funded by the U.S. government” created a “hate list of American citizens”, which is simply untrue. His posting  was actively disseminated by conservative outlets, far-right and far-left American activists, who started attacking Texty.org.ua’s editorial board and the authors of the article on social media, including threatening them with violence.
  • Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called the Texty.org.ua publication a “list of enemies” and falsely claimed that President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky was behind it. We, Ukrainian journalists, confirm the reputation of “Texty” as an entirely independent publication and reject this accusation.
  • Senator J.D. Vance and U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz called on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to send them information about the Ukrainian non-governmental organization Texty.org.ua by June 28. They also appealed to the House Appropriations Committee to cease support for Texty.org.ua, which constitutes direct pressure on freedom of speech and an independent media. On Tuesday, June 11, the committee has passed the resolution. We underline that “Texty” does not receive direct funding from the American budget but only via aid agencies that have their own independent financial policies, and attacks performed in this way is yet another entirely undemocratic practice.
  • Elon Musk, who was also mentioned in the Texty.org.ua study, responded by calling for the media to be deprived of any donor support and urged to include Texty into the list of terrorist organizations. 
  • Thousands of comments with threats of violence and hatred against Texty.org.ua are spreading on social media platform X.

A coordinated attack on independent media undermines the core principles of a democratic society. If someone disagrees with journalists’ materials, they should express their point of view, refute, or dispute them, but to threaten journalists with violence, neither call to include them in terrorist lists, nor exert financial pressure to silence them.

We call on the U.S. Congress and Senate:

  1. To cease the pressure on Texty.org.ua and not exploit Ukrainian media for internal American political competition in the run-up to the upcoming elections in the USA.
  2. To demonstrate that you truly support the principles of freedom of speech and preparedness to defend independent media by revoking decisions that could limit the freedom of expression of the independent Ukrainian press.
  3. To conduct own investigation and determine whether the facts outlined in the Texty.org.ua publication  do  demonstrate the dissemination of narratives resonant to aggressive Kremlin propaganda in the United States.

The spread of false information, aggressive propaganda, and fake news in one’s interests is one of the ways the Russian Federation attacks Ukraine and the Western countries that help counter Russian aggression. We call on the free, democratic society of the United States for the affirmative support of the independent journalism that sheds light on ways Russia conducts its information warfare against democracy worldwide, including in the USA.

Millions of Ukrainians have fallen victim to aggressive Russian propaganda and genocidal rhetoric, including direct calls for the destruction of our cities and murder of our citizens. At this critical time for our country, we highly appreciate the support of the government and the people of the USA, who provide Ukraine with financial and military assistance, because protecting truth and democratic values is our common goal.

The Media Movement also calls on international organizations, governments, and civil society to strengthen support for Ukraine in its fight for independence. Our joint struggle with partners against tyranny and authoritarianism should serve as an example for the entire world.

For reference. The Media Movement is a community that has united journalists from leading Ukrainian media, investigative journalists and experts from independent media organizations. Media movement was launched on February 5, 2019.

The Media Movement Memorandum was first signed by Suspilne, Ukrainian Radio, Hromadske Radio, Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, ZN.ua, NV, Censor.net, Ukrayinska Pravda, and many others leading Ukrainian media. The movement also includes leading Ukrainian media NGOs, such as the IMI, Detector Media, Independent Media Council, Internews Ukraine, National Media Association, Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law, Suspilnist Foundation, Donetsk Institute of Information, Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy, Zmina Center for Human Rights.

Other organizations and journalsits joined later – over 70 members in total. On November 16, 2021, top media outlets called on journalists to unite within the professional community “Media Movement” to resist political and commercial pressure on freedom of speech. The statement was initiated by 29 journalists and experts whose names are available here.