The staff of media that was illegally closed by the Ukrainian government, namely by the President Volodymyr Zelensky, met with the Secretary of the Senate, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Joël Guerriau, and the Vice-President of the Committee on Constitutional Laws, Legislation, Universal Suffrage, Rules and General Administration (LOISa) of the French Senate Nathalie Goulet. During the meeting, media representatives informed the Senators about the catastrophic situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Journalists from four opposition TV channels - Pershiy Nezalezhniy, 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and Zik, as well as the Strana.ua and Shariy.net agencies reminded that the authorities, represented by President Volodymyr Zelensky, grossly violated the principles of the rule of law, having shut down independent media.
"In gross violation of the rule of law, extrajudicially by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, although media licenses can only be revoked by a court decision), the Ukrainian authorities banned the broadcasting of three leading news television channels, 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK. By the ordinary letter of the Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, and again without trial, the authorities criminally disconnected the broadcast of Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel, which united journalists of three closed channels, stopping its broadcast an hour after it began. The authorities have also stopped the work of Strana.ua and Shariy.net and they are on verge of destruction due to the illegal imposition of sanctions," the journalists' open letter to Senators states.
Media representatives urged French politicians to make it clear to the Ukrainian authorities during their further contacts that restricting freedom of speech and, in particular, blocking Ukrainian media without an independent trial seriously undermines the rule of law in Ukraine and is therefore unacceptable for the European Union.
"It is a great honor for us to meet with you to express our concern about the blatant attack on press freedom in Ukraine. We believe that your meeting with the affected journalists will be a great demonstration of the EU's consistent support for the protection of human rights and freedoms. In further contacts with the Ukrainian authorities, we urge you to make it clear that restricting freedom of expression and, in particular, blocking our media without an independent trial, seriously undermines the rule of law in Ukraine and is therefore unacceptable to the EU. In addition, we ask you to publicly respond to the situation around the closed media, and to initiate a discussion of this issue at the sessions of the French Senate," the letter reads.
"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. But we do have the goal to fight the current government. We, as journalists, want to continue our job and convey the truth about what is happening in the country and beyond its borders. However, we were denied this legitimate right. Thus, we urge you to respond to the present situation and to express your position concerning the events around our media," the journalists summed up.
Earlier, the journalists of illegally closed media appealed to the UN concerning the persecution of mass media by Ukrainian authorities. The staff of the illegally closed by the Ukrainian authorities TV channels and websites have appealed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with the request to pay attention to the problem of the elimination of freedom of speech in Ukraine.
In late August, the journalists of the illegally closed 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK TV channels, Pershiy Nezalezhniy, KRT, representatives of Strana.ua and Sharij.net held a mass rally and handed over a letter about illegal actions of the Ukrainian authorities against media representatives to the U.S. Embassy. They also called on U.S. President Joe Biden to raise the problem of Zelensky's destruction of freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Earlier, hundreds of the journalists of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK came to UN Office in Ukraine to show gratitude for the report declaring the closure of TV channels illegal.
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.
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.
Over the past four months, the world media, European politicians and experts have published more than 80,000 materials on the persecution of the opposition and independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities.