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Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech: authorities’ pressure on Dom TV channel journalists is another proof that freedom of speech continues to be seriously oppressed under Zelensky regime

Source : 112 Ukraine

Chairperson of the Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech Hanna Herman said that the demands to provide as much positive information about the president's actions as possible remind of the times of Brezhnev stagnation
15:19, 23 November 2021

Hanna Herman
Open source

The information that the authorities have put pressure on the journalists of another Ukrainian TV channel, Dom TV channel, is another evidence that under Zelensky regime in Ukraine, freedom of speech continues to face serious oppression. This was stated by the Chairperson of the Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech Hanna Herman, the press service of the Foundation reports.

She emphasized that the demands to provide as much positive information about the president's actions as possible "remind of the times of Brezhnev stagnation when the expression "Lenin cannot spoil a newspaper" was popular in the Soviet party press."

"Today, Dom cannot be "spoiled" by Zelensky. This is what Office of the President thinks. According to the OP, the house, that is, our society, can be "spoiled" by independent media, which call things by their proper names: big construction - great theft, "Zelensky’s thousand" - a populist ploy, and statements that President Zelensky is making incredible efforts, to bring peace to Donbas is taking the negotiation in the Minsk agreements to an impasse, " Herman noted. 

The Chairperson of the Foundation also noted that it is impossible to hear a word from the OP about why opposition agencies are closed by an extrajudicial decision of the National Security and Defense Council, why they do not have court sentences against radical activists who harass independent journalists, why the information space of Ukraine is filled with fakes that disorient society. He has no answer to many things.

"The current Ukrainian government, acting purely in its own political interests, does not bother itself with concern for free media. In February of this year, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky without trial authorized the closure of four television channels: 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, Zik and later – Pershiy Nezalezhniy (First Independent). At the same time, these channels maintained a balance of opinions, demonstrating their adherence to the standards of journalism in a democratic society. Also, quite recently, the Ukrainian TV channel-public broadcaster UA: First accused the Office of the President of Ukraine that it "has long and harshly" set ultimatums regarding the presence of MPs on television, and also "set conditions for the editorial staff of the TV channel. In addition, Radio Liberty almost got into the list of media outlets that suffered from the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, and only a significant public resonance forced the authorities to refuse to cover for the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ukreximbank Yevhen Metsger and his associates, who attacked the filming crew of the program "Schemes." And finally, with illegal imposition of sanctions, the autorities have stopped the work of Strana.ua and Shariy.net agencies and there are now under the threat of complete destruction, " Herman added.

She stressed that the President of Ukraine did practically nothing to ensure the safety of journalists’ work. This year, she said, there was a record number of attacks on media workers, and this trend is not decreasing, since those responsible are brought to justice only in exceptional cases.

"Therefore, one should not be surprised that Ukraine is engulfed in the "ninth wave" of the political crisis with no real freedom of speech, no normal dialogue between the government and the opposition, and therefore a vacuum is created, which is quickly filled by the radical elements. The continuation of such a policy of the state in the information sphere can have fatal consequences. In some cases, we are already observing them, but the authorities pretend that nothing threatening is happening. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it seems that the process has acquired all the signs of irreversible, " Herman concluded.

On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on the imposition of sanctions against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels. According to the decree, which came into force from the moment of signing, sanctions were applied to TV channels for five years. This provides for blocking the broadcasting of all three TV channels.

On February 26, journalists of the TV channels illegally closed by President Volodymyr Zelensky united and created a new TV channel - Pershiy Nezalezhniy. The founders of the new media are a group of journalists who previously worked on the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK channels. However, within an hour after the start of broadcasting, Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel was illegally turned off under pressure from the authorities.

Former owner of the Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel Roman Lyubytsky spread a false statement that he had nothing to do with the sale of the TV channel to the Novyny media holding. Lyubytsky's statement is not true, as his authorized representative acted on his behalf, and Lyubytsky himself received payment for the sale of the TV channel.

On August 20, the sanctions were imposed on the editor-in-chief of the Internet portal Strana.ua Igor Guzhva, the publishing companies of Strana.ua, blogger and journalist Anatoly Shariy and his wife Olga. As a result, Strana.ua and Shariy.net were blocked.

Leading European politicians, international and Ukrainian experts and the world media criticized Zelensky's decree on the closure of the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK.

In connection with the illegal actions of the authorities, the journalists appealed to the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken regarding the introduction of total censorship and a serious threat to freedom of information in Ukraine, handed over an open letter to European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy from 2010 to 2014 Stefan Füle and ex-President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan, and the Spokesperson of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Marta Hurtado. And the Council of Europe recommended journalists of illegally closed Pershiy Nezalezhniy channel to appeal to ECHR.

At the beginning of September, the journalists of the illegally closed TV channels were visited by the Secretary of the Senator of France, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and the Armed Forces of the French Senate, member of NATO PA and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Joël Guerriau and member of French Senate, member of the commission of Foreign Affairs and Defense Forces Nathalie Goulet. The senator said that their visit have started with the visit of the Embassy of France in Ukraine and meeting with the ambassador, during which, the diplomats were informed by the concern of the Union of Journalists of France and the OSCE about the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine.

In addition, the journalists of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels, illegally closed by the Ukrainian authorities, Pershiy Nezalezhniy, closed by a letter from the Deputy Chairman of the Security Service without a trial, as well as Strana.ua and Shariy.net outlets came to the YES Brainstorming conference, which started on September 10 in Kyiv, to talk about the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine. 

The journalists of the closed media sent a letter to the PACE delegates, where they told about the pressure of the authorities on the independent media in Ukraine and asked for their assessment. They were also supported by the Charity Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech in Ukraine, whose Chairperson sent a letter to US President Joe Biden in connection with the government's persecution of independent media in Ukraine.

Over the past four months, the world media, European politicians, and experts have published almost 115,000 materials on the persecution of the opposition and independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities.

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