The journalists of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK TV channels, which were closed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a meeting.
Below is the full text of the letter:
To Her Excellency Dr. Angela Merkel,
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Journalists of three Ukrainian TV channels “112 Ukraine”, “NewsOne” and “Zik” take this opportunity to express their honor and address you with a kind request of having a meeting during your visit to Ukraine to discuss the illegal shutting of the channels by Ukrainian authorities.
In grave breach of basic principles of rule of law, the Ukrainian authorities have banned the broadcasting of these three leading TV stations – the decision that has got increasingly sound condemnation on the part of respected international human rights watchdogs. Thus, we will be honored to meet you in order to convey our concerns over the blatant attack on the freedom of press in Ukraine.
We believe that your meeting with the affected journalists would demonstrate the consistency of the EU’s support for the protection of human rights and freedoms.
In case this meeting is not possible due to the tight schedule of your visit to Ukraine, we kindly ask for your response and consent to initiate the discussion of this matter by specialized European institutions.
In brief, details of the channels’ closure can be described as follows:
In early February, three Ukrainian TV channels – “112 Ukraine”, “NewsOne”, and “ZiK” – were shut without any legal background. At the whim of President Zelensky's Office, almost 1,500 journalists were kicked out on the street. However, we did not give up and created a new TV channel – “Pershiy Nezalezhniy” (“The First Independent”), which united the staff of “112 Ukraine”, “NewsOne”, and “ZiK”.
On February 26, the newly established TV channel launched its broadcasting, however, an hour later and under the pressure from the authorities Ukrainian telecomm providers were compelled to stop he satellite broadcasting of the channel, even despite the previously agreed arrangements. “Pershiy Nezalezhniy” did not survive a day, and we were denied our right to work and lost the access to our audience.
Ukrainian authorities have gone far beyond all reasonable bounds by violating legislation and international norms, and continue to purposefully destroy freedom of speech in the country. However, fighting the authorities is not our goal. We, as journalists, just want to continue our job and convey the truth about what is happening in the country and beyond its boundaries. However, this legitimate right has been denied.
Thus, we urge you to respond to the present situation and to express your position.
The staff of “Pershiy Nezalezhniy” TV channel