Expected to open within the next few days, the Lviv Press Freedom Centre aims to be a reception and distribution hub for protective equipment for journalists, particularly bulletproof vests and helmets, which are currently in short supply. This physical and digital Centre will also provide resources to journalists seeking financial or psychological assistance.
It will be located within the premises of the International Media Center, a facility created by the Lviv City Council where foreign journalists can work from 8am to 8pm with Internet connection, live-streaming capacity and access to a shelter in the event of an attack. The Lviv Press Freedom Centre will be run jointly by RSF and the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), RSF’s partner in Ukraine since 2014.
The Centre will have a digital portal to channel requests and evaluate needs. RSF and IMI are receiving hundreds of requests every day from journalists seeking assistance of different kinds, including requests for transport, humanitarian assistance and protective equipment. This digital portal will greatly facilitate the assistance efforts of press freedom organisations.
RSF will also deploy its Collateral Freedom project technology to help Ukrainian independent media outlets circumvent website blocking by means of ‘mirror’ sites created on international servers.
“RSF has accompanied Ukrainian journalists and international reporters in danger from the very start,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire. “Their needs are immense and include first aid kits, humanitarian assistance, protective equipment and media funding. We call on international donors and media outlets to contact us to help provide the funds and equipment that will be needed in the coming days.”
“Journalists in Ukraine have to work under extremely dangerous circumstances”, IMI director Oksana Romaniuk said. “Their courage allows all of us to know the real situation with the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Their work protects the right of people to information and helps fight with fakes. We appreciate the support from our long-standing partner RSF, and together we will apply all efforts to protect the work of journalists in Ukraine”.
Hrystyna Lebed, coordinator of the International Media Centre, said: “ The truth about war is very important for us now. Our country is under attack and we fight for our freedom. We will organise everything what they need to get the access to the information ”
The Lviv Press Freedom Centre is co-operating closely with the support programme for Ukrainian journalists provided by the European journalistic network n-ost.
The Centre’s initial supporters include the Limelight Foundation and Adessium Foundation in the Netherlands, the Schöpflin Foundation in Germany, the King Baudouin Foundation in Belgium, the Oak Foundation in the United Kingdom and dozens of individual donors. The RSF and IMI have expressed gratitude for their support.