Resolution of the General Assembly of the Czech Committee of the International Press Institute on the War in Ukraine
The Czech Committee of the International Press Institute (CZ IPI) expresses its fullest support and solidarity with all journalists in Russia who endeavour to work in compliance with the ethics and standards of journalism, who struggle against state-imposed censorship and strive to keep up their professional mission – to provide truthful and accurate information to their audience or readership.
CZ IPI condemns the actions of the Russian authorities against Russian media. Directly and indirectly, often through media owners closely connected with the government, Russian authorities have exerted pressure on the media in an effort to influence their content; they ban the word ‘war’ in reference to the current war caused by Russia, the word ‘intervention’ for the intervention in Ukraine, and ‘war crimes’ for the war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine. The operation of the radio station Ekho of Moscow was forcefully terminated and their website shut down. Russia is deliberately attempting to return the state of their media to the standards of the Soviet era, to turn them into the heralds of the official propaganda. At the same time, Russia spreads its mendacious propaganda abroad, just as it did in the communist era, attempting to cast doubt on the content of independent and free media operating in democratic countries.
In the barbarian campaign, the Russian army destroys civilian targets and kills innocent people. The victims include several journalists affected while doing their jobs. We regard with great respect and appreciation the work of Ukrainian journalists and all journalists working in Ukraine at this difficult time. We call upon the Russian authorities and Russian army to abide by the international law in respecting civilian facilities, population and journalists at work.
Journalists in the Czech Republic can still remember the way in which the media worked under the communist regime. We remember the soviet tanks that suppressed the freedom of speech, one of the essential achievements of the Prague Spring movement in 1968. We can understand the inestimable value of the freedom of speech. The current reality in Russia shows that freedom of speech can be suppressed if media are owned by oligarchs connected to the government or by companies controlled fully or partly by the state. Let us be alert, let us beware of this.
The existence of independent and free media is the essential guarantee of democracy. The ability of media to operate freely depends on their independence and economic power. We call upon the European Commission and other international organisations to support independent media in Russia and other post-communist countries.
Without independent professional media, there can be no democracy. Without independent media, there can be no freedom.
The resolution was endorsed by the General Assembly of the Czech Committee of the International Press Institute
In Prague on 3 March 2022