Today they ban Ukraine's TV channels, tomorrow run for president under democratic slogans

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

Parliamentary appeal to consider the possibility of imposing sanctions against 112 Ukraine and NewsOne was supported by those who declared an intention to run for the presidency: Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleh Lyashko, Yuriy Derevyanko, and Viktor Chumak
11:23, 5 October 2018

An appeal of the Verkhovna Rada to the National Security Council to consider the possibility of imposing sanctions against 112 Ukraine and NewsOne was supported by deputies who declared their intention to run for the presidency of Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleh Lyashko, Yuriy Derevyanko, and Viktor Chumak. Experts state that people, who should have been among the first to stand up for freedom of speech, have labeled themselves “I am an enemy of the media” by today's voting. In their opinion, for politicians who have voted “for,” this might have serious consequences in the presidential election.

112 Agency

Related: 112 Ukraine TV channel needs protection: Open letter

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada urges the country’s National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to introduce sanctions against several Ukrainian TV channels. 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. However, leader of Batkivshchyna party, Yulia Tymoshenko, head of the Radical Party, Oleh Lyashko, not affiliated with any faction Yuriy Derevyanko and Viktor Chumak supported the decision, which could lead to the cessation of broadcasting of the country's leading news channels. The channels on which they repeatedly appear, using them as a chance to campaign and canvass.

Related: British MP slams pressure on 112 Ukraine, NewsOne TV channels

Is it hypocrisy and double standards or a conscious life position? The experts we interviewed are sure: politicians did what their electorate might actually like.

“They do not voice their real position. They voice the ideas, which might add some points in the eyes of the voters. During the voting for social bills in Verkhovna Rada, Anna Herman, Yulia Tymoshenko’s good friend, told a landmark thing: ‘How so? The people will like it...’ I have witnessed it. How should we refuse from voting if people like it?” said Taras Chornovil, politician. It should be noted that during Orange Revolution in 2004, Taras Chornovil has switched from Yushchenko’s party “Our Ukraine” to Yanukovych’s team, and with the beginning of Maidan, quickly defected to Poroshenko’s side.

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According to the expert, “all these people (who voted for the appeal), without exception, regularly show up on 112 Ukraine and NewsOne TV channels.” “

Moreover, representatives of the factions of those who voted regularly visit these TV studios. Ivan Krulko (“Batkivshchyna”) even made statements regarding infringements of freedom of speech in relation to NewsOne TV channel. They demonstrate a very low level of morality. These are people, whose religion is a lie. A person first votes for the closure of the channel, then he comes to this channel to hype up... it is just immoral,” Chornovil noted.

This is not something unusual for those people who can totally change their political position: “Yulia Tymoshenko has changed her change her position 180 degrees when she came to power.”

Related: MPs, who show up on air of 112 Ukraine TV Channel every day, vote for its closure

“Yulia Tymoshenko voted not to be accused of supporting Viktor Medvedchuk. The Russian theme and the theme of Medvedchuk are political traps for her, and she knows it very well. Viktor Chumak and Yuri Derevyanko also counted that voting against the channel of Medvedchuk would provide support for the electorate,” said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. On the objection that Viktor Medvedchuk is not the owner of 112 Ukraine, the expert explains that politicians do not actually care about legal or judicial opinions, they pay more attention to the cliches and myths that exist in the information field and can please their electorate.

 “I think that half of those who voted in the Rada, did not personally support this position,” political consultant Ruslan Bortnyk added.

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Experts are not sure that there is 100% guarantee that the current vote will bring only bonuses for the future presidential candidates. “Those who voted tried to look good in the eyes of the right-wing and national-democratic electorate. In fact, they turned out to be hostages of a situation, created by themselves... All of these politicians with presidential ambitions are oriented on this electoral niche. But besides them, many other politicians – Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Sviatoslav Vakarchuk will fight in the same niche. And the niche is narrow,” Ruslan Bortnyk assures. More than half of the voters adhere to other views, and they would not appreciate such populism.

According to Bortnyk, today future presidential candidates have actually gone to a voluntary electoral constraint. "There has not been such precedents in the democratic countries and in Ukraine. Now people will always remember this vote, as it happened with their colleagues of the previous convocation, who voted for softer laws on January 16, 2014 (the so-called Yanukovych’s dictatorship laws, - Ed.). It will not be easy to get rid of this image. In fact, today politicians who voted have lost the opportunity to be elected in the center, in the south and east of Ukraine, where the opposition electorate is located and its niche is much wider than the one they flirted with," said the expert.

Related: Parliament decision to sanction 112 Ukraine, NewsOne TV channels violates freedom of speech, - MP

Experts agreed that the NSDC is most likely not to take any real decisions on the results of the parliamentary appeal.

“In my opinion, this appeal will not have any practical consequences. Unlike declarations by which people's deputies are guided, the NSDC should be guided by clear legislative norms in its activities,” Taras Chornovil said.

According to him, the appeal turned out to be “essentially stillborn.” The decision is declarative in nature: “first the legislation should clearly define what anti-state activity, a threat to the state through activity in the information field, information security are. But they are still not defined. As there is no evidence that the violation of the laws of Ukraine by television channels actually took place.”

In fact, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada shifted the unsolvable issue to the NSDC. If the Council does not impose any sanctions, the so-called opposition would claim about a “total treason,” and if the Council takes action, it will be easily challenged in court, and the authorities will be in a bad position. In addition, this precedent may be applied in the future to other media outlets, not liked by the ruling coalition.

Related: Political technology hurts freedom of speech and free media, - 112 Ukraine TV channel's owner

“The deputies have shifted a problem at the National Security and Defense Council. And now it is a pain in the neck of the National Security and Defense Council. Closing these channels without good legal grounds means creating a great unpleasant precedent,” political analyst Fesenko adds.

In any case, experts agree that future presidential candidates have restricted their electorate in vain. They gave an extra reason to think about their sincerity and integrity – yesterday they were vehemently defending freedom of speech and criticized the authorities for curbing the oppositional media. And today they have taken a step towards destroying Ukraine’s weak freedom of speech.

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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.

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