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People look across at the city central square from the mall viewing platform covered with snow in Kiev, in January 2019. A court in the city on August 6 ruled against Hromadske TV in a case over the outlet's tweet about a nationalist group. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

Ukraine court orders Hromadske TV to pay costs in case over C14 tweet

August 8, 2019 2:17 PM ET

On August 6, 2019, the Kiev Commercial Court ruled that a tweet posted by the independent news outlet Hromadske TV in May 2018 had harmed the reputation of C14, a Ukrainian nationalist group, according to Hromadske TV and other outlets.

Hromadske TV reported that C14 filed a suit against the outlet in July last year “on the protection of [the group’s] honor, dignity, and business reputation.” The tweet, posted in English, referred to C14 as a “neo-Nazi” group, according to the Kyiv Post and other reports.

Nazi symbols are prohibited by law in Ukraine.

The court ordered Hromadske TV to retract the tweet and pay C14’s legal fees totaling 3,500 Ukrainian hryvnias (US$136).

Nataliya Gumenyuk, the head of Hromadske TV, told CPJ via email and phone on August 6 that the outlet disagreed with the court ruling and will appeal.

Gumenyuk said that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for further restrictions on freedom of speech and the press. It could also increase self-censorship among journalists and the censoring of media in Ukraine, she said.

The U.S. State Department has labeled C14 a “nationalist hate group,” the U.S. Congress funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

CPJ was unable to locate contact details for C14. A lawyer representing the organization was cited in reports as saying, "The position of C14 is that they are not a neo-Nazi group in their activities or in the nature of their activities."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline of this case has been updated to clarify the details of the court ruling.]

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