On March 7, Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media, spoke with the Kyiv Post about the current “information crisis” in Ukraine after spending six hours on the peninsula.
Mijatovic compared the dangerous atmosphere
for journalists in Crimea to that of her native Sarajevo before the Bosnian
War: “In the air you can feel it…people are not free in their thoughts and in
their movements.” She outlined a pattern of “attacks on journalists, hasty
decisions to change legislation, banning [news] channels, [and] introducing
other channels that are suitable for a certain group.” Mijatovic said that journalists
in Crimea are facing constant “intimidation and harassment” from local
On March 5, Mijatovic traveled with a team
of advisors to Crimea to monitor the deteriorating situation. As they were
leaving the peninsula, a local self-defense group that Mijatovic described as a
“paramilitary” unit, offered to “escort” her OSCE team to the airport, making
it obvious that international observers were not welcome in Crimea. Mijatovic
said that the men “had clear orders” to make sure that she left.