Ukrainian Parliament should become more open to the media and the public
The large-scale armed aggression launched by the Russian Federation in February, 2022, significantly affected various spheres of society and institutions. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Ukrainian Parliament) was no exception.
In fact, immediately after the beginning of the invasion, access to Parliament sessions and backrooms has been closed to journalists. Meetings of almost all Committees went online, without the involvement of experts from civil society organizations. Access to some information on the website of the Verkhovna Rada and Parliamentary Committees became restricted. For instance, information about the list of Members of the Parliament, Committee contacts, agenda of meetings has disappeared. Despite the fact that some information (such as the list of Members of the Parliament and Committee members) returned to the official website, the Verkhovna Rada still remains quite closed to the media and the public.
In 2022, the introduction of restrictions could be explained by the interests of national security and the need for the security of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. However, the work of the UkrainianParliament behind closed doors in 2024, after almost two years since the beginning of the large-scale invasion and ten years since the start of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, raises many questions.
The lack of access of journalists to the Verkhovna Rada harms democracy. What is the point of talking about the danger of the presence of media in the Parliament when society learns about the progress and results of consideration of draft laws from social networks of Members’ of the Parliament? In addition, the Parliament is a structure that is too large in terms of the number of people involved for its meetings to take place inconspicuously.
Therefore, instead of continuing the existing situation of preventing journalists from entering the Parliament building, it is worth discussing security measures, for example, the preparation of shelters.
The admission of journalists to the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the early publication of a list of draft laws scheduled for consideration will provide Ukrainians with socially important information.
It is equally important that representatives of civil society should be able to participate in meetings of the Parliamentary Committees, express positions on registered draft laws and initiatives to be developed.
A sign of the preservation of democracy despite the war will be the return to the public of the opportunity to communicate with Members of the Parliament in an understandable and transparent way. The media should get the opportunity to inform society about what issues are considered by the country’s single legislative body and what arguments are heard during the discussion. The openness of the Parliament presupposes the availability of information about its procedures to the public, as well as the creation of conditions for full-fledged communication of Members of the Parliament with the Ukrainian society.
On the day of the opening of the regular, eleventh session of the Verkhovna Rada of the IX convocation, we call on the Parliament to return to ensuring the principles of openness of its activity, namely:
- To ensure the possibility of the presence of journalists during meetings of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and communication with Members of the Ukrainian Parliament on the sidelines of the Parliament;
- To publish the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in advance;
- To promote and support the involvement of civil society organizations in the meetings of the Committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should once again become a place for discussions, free communication and work of media in order to find solutions to the complex challenges the Ukrainian State faces as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. Under the conditions of ensuring security measures, such openness of the Parliament will increase public trust in its activities and will promote active cooperation of civil society organizations and Members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine..
Human Rights Centre ZMINA
Institute of Mass Information
Donbas SOS NGO
East-SOS Charitable Foundation
Public holding “INFLUENCE GROUP”
Media Initiative for Human Rights
Stabilization Support Services Charitable Foundation
Collegium of lawyers on maritime law of Ukraine
All-Ukrainian association Automaidan
Kyiv Educational Center “Space of Tolerance” NGO
Center “Social Action” NGO
Dariia Hirna, journalist, author of the “Face of Independence” channel
News of Donbass
Center for Civil Liberties
Women in Media NGO
Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies
Center for Political and Legal Reforms
Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy
“UKRAINEPRIDE” Civic Network OPORA NGO
International Society of Human Rights – Ukrainian section
Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv
Crimean Process NGO
Institute of Peace and Understanding NGO
Truth Hounds NGO
Helsinki Initiative-XXI NGO
Centre of Civil Education “Almenda”
Yevhenii Spirin, journalist, presenter
Expert Group “Owl” NGO
Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center NGO
Public Radio NGO
Crimean human rights group
Human Rights Platform NGO
Media Detector NGO
Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners of the Kremlin
Incubator of Democratic Initiatives NGO
PRAVE DILO Human Rights Association
National Union of Journalists of Ukraine
Commission on Journalistic Ethics
Kharkiv Institute of Social Research
Dmytro Tuzov, Radio NV
Yana Brenzei, Vikna News
Roman Kulchynskyi, Texty
Natalia Sokolenko, Ukrainian Radio
Vadym Karpiak, ICTV
Bohdana Neborak, The Ukrainians
Liudmyla Tiahnyriadno, Ukrainian Radio
Bohdan Lohvynenko, The Ukrainer
Yevheniia Motorevska, head of the War Crimes Investigation Department of The Kyiv Independent
Myroslava Barchuk, Suspilne
Anton Skyba, producer of The Globe and Mail
Anastasiia Bakulina, Svidomi
Azad Safarov, Sky News producer, co-founder of Children’s Voices
Anna Babinets, Slidstvo.info
Anastasiia Stanko, Slidstvo.info
Alya Shandra, Euromaidan Press