Freedom of speech 'upon call': How SBU tries to intimidate media and providers

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

The office of the president made the National Defense Council and the SBU (Security Service) instruments of reprisal against the political opponents of Volodymyr Zelensky
09:30, 3 March 2021

Freedom of speech 'upon call'
112 Agency

Every Friday, the Council, which has always been a body without special powers and meaning, started to made decisions on the imposition of sanctions - in violation of the law, against the citizens of Ukraine. With the help of this decision and the subsequent decree of Zelensky, three TV channels not controlled by the authorities were closed. These are 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK. The journalists of these TV channels, the journalists who the authorities are afraid of, united and created Pershy Nezalezhny. But the authorities turned off the air of this newborn TV channel, which was on the air for only one hour and during this time only managed to receive congratulations on the start of broadcasting. By the hands of the SBU, which banally intimidated the providers and forced them to violate the existing agreements, the broadcasting of the Pershy Nezalezhny was terminated. We have a situation where the bodies, called upon to monitor the rule of law in the country, are doing absolute lawlessness. Under Zelensky, the state machine does not even observe the formal appearance of the law - this destroys the very concept of a rule-of-law state.

No law for SBU

Pershy Nezalezhny was launched on the air on Friday evening, February 26th. After an hour of broadcasting, the channel was turned off on the satellite. It revealed that this was the handiwork of the SBU, which sent out threatening letters to providers demanding that the Pershy Nezalezhny be turned off. The motivation for such a demand is not just illiterate, it looks ridiculous to hear this from the SBU.

"The SBU has information that people associated with the above persons (meaning Taras Kozak, who was previously sanctioned, - ed.) are carrying out activities to restore dangerous broadcasting for Ukraine on the basis of TIME MEDIA LLC," the SBU's letter say. Further, the Service demands from the provider KOSMONOVA BROADCAST, the owner of the satellite, the Swedish company SES ASTRA AB and for some reason the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, to stop distributing the TV channel's programs as posing a threat to national security.

It is not clear what threats to national security the SBU writes about. But it is quite obvious that the command was given to turn off the channel long before its start on the air - regardless of the content. Since sanctions against journalists would have become the height of lawlessness, the authorities chose a different path. The SBU, which has enormous opportunities to intimidate private business, simply demanded that the provider turn off the channel. Which is completely illegal.

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"This actually leads to the usurpation of power, to the most severe censorship outside the law," - commented on lawyer Rostislav Kravets. "Due to the fact that the SBU's request was fulfilled, one can conclude that, in addition to recommendations, there were calls to each of the providers," the lawyer adds. "Then the State Bureau of Investigation can handle this case." And now it can already bring the employees of the Service to justice.

Pershy Nezalezhny has already applied to the court and will seek to establish the unlawfulness of the SBU's actions by the court as violating the law and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, exercised in excess of powers, discriminatory and constituting an act of illegal censorship.

SBU is Zelensky's tool for settling disputes

Under Zelensky, the SBU never became an independent body that would protect national security. The president with no political experience quickly realized that the Service is a good tool for settling scores with political opponents. Therefore, the post of the head of the SBU was given to a friend of Zelensky, Ivan Bakanov. Accordingly, the Service under such a head turned into a "mask show".

So, earlier the Office of the President tried to scare the 112 Ukraine channel of Taras Kozak. At the direction of the President’s Office, the SBU demanded to arrest the corporate rights of the TV channel and transfer the media to another management. On August 6, 2020, the Shevchenko District Court of Kiev refused the SBU and the Prosecutor's Office to arrest the corporate rights of the 112 Ukraine TV channel, considering these actions of the security officials illegal. Subsequently, the court of appeal confirmed the legality of the decision of the Shevchenkivsky district court.

Then the Office of the President took a different path and the already mentioned decision on sanctions against Kozak and his TV channels - 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK appeared - a frank act of political reprisals against an opponent, committed without publishing any evidence, in violation of the law prohibiting the use of sanctions against the citizens of Ukraine.

It should also be added that today the SBU is a "cover" for a number of neo-Nazi radical groups that carry out "dirty" work in the interests of the Service. Radicals repeatedly attacked journalists, but there was no reaction from law enforcement agencies. As it was not after the shelling of the TV channel building from a grenade launcher. The SBU did not even think about the need to investigate this act of terrorism.

Such actions of the SBU destroy not only the credibility of the Security Service itself, they undermine the credibility of Ukraine as a rule of law.

In civil society, freedom of speech, including in the media, should be regulated not by a call from the SBU and not by order of the president, but by the activities of public organizations and associations. Instead, we have a gendarme with a club, who clearly fulfills the will of its master, no matter how absurd it may be.

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