Matthew Schaaf, the director of the Freedom House office in Ukraine, states that in 2018, the situation involving journalists' safety worsened in the country. He said this delivering his speech at the public hearings entitled Physical Safety of Journalists and Free Speech in Ukraine, Ukrainian News Agency reports. "We point out the tendency for the larger number of attacks on and physical violence against journalists. Lately, the situation involving physical safety of journalists has only deteriorated which has been registered by a number of leading Ukrainian mass media organizations - the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and the IMI (Institute of Mass Information)," Schaaf said. "Besides, another negative tendency is the pressure exerted by law enforcers on a number of media due to their political position or their alleged threat to the national security of Ukraine. They are usually accused of alleged cooperation with the Russian Federation," said the director of the Freedom House office in Ukraine. Schaaf said that there usually was no proper evidence of any violations by so-called unfavorable media organizations. Schaaf noted that both state and non-governmental institutions exert political and other types of pressure on so-called unfavorable mass media organizations. "For instance, surprise inspections at the offices of media companies prove the fact of exerting pressure for unsuitable political positions of the media, which, in our view, is a threat to the freedom of the media and free speech," Schaaf said. He also said that the Ukraine's rating described in the Web Freedom 2017 report fell by 7 points due to inter alia the decree issued by the President of Ukraine to block a number of popular social media sites, platforms and websites. This year, the Ukraine's rating remained unchanged. "Not only may a fake story threaten democracy but also certain actions in response, those ones that aim to struggle the fake which has become an increasingly regular practice for different states including Ukraine. Among the threats for the freedom of the Internet mentioned in the report, it is necessary to mention a number of bills, for instance, 6688, and initiatives such as lists of journalists kept by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) aimed at enhancement of the control over the Internet and supervision of state bodies over the users. [the bill 6688 allows any investigator to block any news website without having a respective court order. The authors of the bill are members of the People's Front parliamentary faction - ed. note.]. Thanks to the insistence of the media, public and human rights activists such initiatives have not yet turned into laws. Therefore, we are eager to continue cooperation with all the concerned parties in order to create policy that would protect but not restrict the freedom of the media as a response to the threats from the outside," he concluded. As earlier reported, the public hearings entitled Physical Safety of Journalists and Free Speech were initiated by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU). The event was dedicated to the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists marked on November 2.