October 4, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada urged the country’s National Security and Defense Council to introduce sanctions against NewsOne and 112 Ukraine TV channels. If these sanctions are implemented, the leading information channels of the country will stop broadcasting. The rationale of the people's nominees, who voted “for,” remains unclear, as the media have not violated the current legislation. Serhiy Tomilenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, many experts, and market participants assure. In fact, these sanctions are nothing but a political decision.
229 MPs supported the draft law No. 9157 on “Approval of recommendations to introduce personal special economic sanctions and other restrictive measures (sanctions).” The decision was supported even by those people's deputies, who declared their intention to run for the presidency of Ukraine. These people should have been among the first to stand up for freedom of speech. The hypocrisy of some deputies could be clearly traced if you compare their previous expressions on the freedom of speech.
Yulia Tymoshenko is a famous activist for freedom of speech. She repeatedly accused the authorities of putting pressure on journalists and attempts to lock down the country’s information field. Of course, many have forgotten that, in 2009, then Prime Minister Tymoshenko successfully petitioned the court to banned criticism of herself. It served a precedent for the country. After defecting to the opposition, the discourse of Yulia Tymoshenko has changed dramatically.
In 2019, Tymoshenko will run for the presidency and will certainly tell about how the authorities restrict freedom of speech, and that she has no place to speak, and so on. Keep in mind her vote on October 4, it is significant.
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Oleh Lyashko, leader of the Radical Party was a journalist with work experience over many years. His voice calling for the freedom of speech was one of the loudest in Ukraine. “You are the real conscience of the nation, you do not let the MPs forget their sins,” he told the journalists, reproaching the authorities for pressure and attempts to influence the media.
Next year, Oleh Lyashko, like Yulia Tymoshenko, qualifies for the president’s post. He is clamouring furiously about alleged suppression of his ratings and his potential to become president of Ukraine.
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Yuriy Derevyanko, not affiliated with any faction, became one of the particularly prominent politicians supporting Mikheil Saakashvili, New Forces Movement leader, who started a rally in October last year near the Verkhovna Rada. Then he repeatedly stated that the authorities were blocking the dissemination of information about the relevant protest actions and did not give words to opponents. His rhetoric about Ukraine’s freedom of speech has intensified after the decision to run for president.
Viktor Chumak is not affiliated with any faction. Earlier, he publicly called himself a fighter for freedom of speech and accused the authorities and opposition forces of a desire to put the Ukrainian media under supervision. "This has just never happened before!" he claimed.
Volodymyr Ariyev is a Ukrainian people’s deputy from Petro Poroshenko Bloc. A few years ago he presented his own report on issues of freedom of speech and security of the journalists at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe(PACE). He is known as an arrant fighter against censorship in Ukraine since 2010. Then, he has expressed his concern on the pressure put on media by Yanukovych’ regime.
The authority in the country has been replaced with the one “which understands the democratic values” and Ariyev’s oratory has also changed a bit: he starts justifying the pressure put on media, yet he still considers himself their defender.
The staff of 112 Ukraine TV channel insists that the steps made by the Ukrainian Parliament, which aim to apply sanctions against 112 Ukraine TV channel are nothing but a political decision; there is not enough evidence to make such decision, which badly lacks argumentation and may be considered unconstitutional.