Free Expression in a Time of War

Rights are under attack in Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine constitutes an act of war and a blatant breach of international law and treaties: undertakings designed to protect and defend us all.

Free expression is the cornerstone of democracy. Today, freedom of expression is profoundly threatened in Europe. The initial assault on fundamental rights began long before Russian forces crossed the sovereign borders of Ukraine. For decades, the Kremlin in Russia has worked to dismantle free expression within its borders, cracking down on independent media, conducting large-scale misinformation campaigns and intimidating civil society into silence.

Journalism, protest and freedom of speech have become extremely dangerous occupations in Russia. The Kremlin has empowered copycat actions in neighbouring Belarus and now, its actions threaten the lives of millions of people in Ukraine, and the wider region.

For too long, the world has chosen not to address the erosion of rights and rising authoritarianism. Too little attention has been paid to understanding the oxygen authoritarians need to survive. How historical narratives are revised in opposition to historical fact. How human rights defenders are threatened, imprisioned and murdered. How elections are manipulated. How truth is denied.

Standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and with all those suffering in the war, ARTICLE 19, our partners, activists and experts will work to ensure the facts can no longer be ignored.

On this page, you will find analyses, resources and information relating to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the situation in Russia, Belarus and other countries in the region, as well as what the threats to freedom of expression posed and exacerbated by the events in Europe might mean to other countries around the world.

ARTICLE 19 advocates for freedom of expression of those affected by the actions and influence of authoritarian regimes. We are calling for protection of journalists and respect for independent media. We urge governments to respect civil society’s right to information and freedom of assembly.

Perugia Declaration for Ukraine: Journalists must be protected
11.04.2022 16 min read

Perugia Declaration for Ukraine: Journalists must be protected

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Ukraine: War crimes against journalists and civilians must be investigated
05.04.2022 2 min read

Ukraine: War crimes against journalists and civilians must be investigated

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EU: Emergency visas for Russian and Belarusian journalists fleeing repression
15.03.2022 3 min read

EU: Emergency visas for Russian and Belarusian journalists fleeing repression

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Russia: Internet freedom must be upheld
11.03.2022 3 min read

Russia: Internet freedom must be upheld

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International: Sanctions against Russia must not undermine human rights
10.03.2022 11 min read

International: Sanctions against Russia must not undermine human rights

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ICANN: Human rights law calls for an open Internet at a time of war
04.03.2022 4 min read

ICANN: Human rights law calls for an open Internet at a time of war

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Ukraine: UN must take action on Russia’s acts of war
04.03.2022 3 min read

Ukraine: UN must take action on Russia’s acts of war

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Ukraine: Journalists covering Russian invasion must be protected
01.03.2022 5 min read

Ukraine: Journalists covering Russian invasion must be protected

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Ukraine and Russia: Accurate information is crucial in a time of war
01.03.2022 4 min read

Ukraine and Russia: Accurate information is crucial in a time of war

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Ukraine: We stand with the people and defend free media
25.02.2022 3 min read

Ukraine: We stand with the people and defend free media

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Explainers

How did we get here?

We know that undermining freedom of expression starts with restrictions imposed on independent media, on civic space and threats to journalists.  Here are some key stages from the last decade of the Kremlin’s playbook to do just that.

Joint call to make respect for press freedom a cornerstone of all demands towards Belarus
11.06.2021 9 min read

Joint call to make respect for press freedom a cornerstone of all demands towards Belarus

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Russia: Article 19 supports media group’s petition to the European Court
16.04.2021 5 min read

Russia: Article 19 supports media group’s petition to the European Court

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18.11.2019 5 min read

Russia: ‘Foreign Agents’ Bill threatens journalists

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17.11.2017 9 min read

Requiring media to register as ‘foreign agents’ poses threat to free speech

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UN HRC: Civic Space Restrictions in Central Asia and Eastern Europe must be addressed
22.06.2015 9 min read

UN HRC: Civic Space Restrictions in Central Asia and Eastern Europe must be addressed

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Russia: Mass Media Defence Centre, latest target in continued NGO crackdown
27.02.2015 4 min read

Russia: Mass Media Defence Centre, latest target in continued NGO crackdown

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08.10.2014 5 min read

Joint Letter with INGOs call on President Putin to repeal ‘Foreign Agent’ law

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