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 and influence the Ukrainian authorities in general and President Zelensky in particular. It is stated in the statement of the journalist to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Recently, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released another report in which it condemned the Ukrainian authorities for the closure of independent media, calling it a violation of human rights. Besides, the UN demanded from the Ukrainian authorities to allow the broadcasting of closed TV channels and stop sanctions until sufficient grounding and decisions of the courts are provided.
“However, the Ukrainian authorities neglect not only the opinion of the world journalistic society, specialized international organizations, and well-known politicians and experts but also the opinion of such respected international organization as the UN. The journalists of the illegally closed media ask you to turn attention to this problem and influence the Ukrainian authorities in general and President Zelensky in particular. We believe that the discussion of this issue will become an excellent demonstration of the fact that the protection of freedom of speech and provision of rights and freedoms of human are the main value and main supposition for creation of a healthy democratic society in Ukraine,” the statement of the journalists says.
We publish the full text of the letter:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. High Commissioner!
The staff of illegally closed by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council "112 Ukraine", "NewsOne" and "Zik" TV channels, as well as employees of "Pershiy Nezalezhniy" TV channel, the broadcast of which was cynically shut down an hour after its start by the criminal actions of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), namely, by the letter from the Deputy Chairman of the special service, the journalists of "Strana.ua" and "sharij.net" agencies, closed by the illegal imposition of sanctions, and journalists of KRT channel, whose license was illegally revoked and journalists of other agencies,united to express to you their respect and address you with a kind request to turn your attention to the improper state of ensuring freedom of speech in Ukraine, which resulted in the illegal closure of a number of media in the country by the Ukrainian authorities.
In grave breach of basic principles of rule of law, the Ukrainian authorities have banned the broadcasting of four influential TV channels and a number of online media. Today, this decision is receiving increasingly sound condemnation on the part of respected international human rights watchdogs and news about the closure of the TV channels and online media have already been published in all the world's leading media.
We are grateful to you for condemnation of closing of "112 Ukraine", "NewsOne" and "Zik" TV channels as it really contradicts the international human rightsstandards. We also welcome the demand of the UN to the Ukrainian authorities to allow the broadcasting of the TV channels and suspend sanctions until sufficient grounding and decisions of the courts are provided.
However, the Ukrainian authorities neglect not only the opinion of the world journalistic society, specialized international organizations and well-known politicians and experts but also the opinion of such respected international organization as the UN.
The journalists of the illegally closed media ask you to turn attention to this problem and influence the Ukrainian authorities in general and President Zelensky in particular.
We believe that the discussion of this issue will become an excellent demonstration of the fact that the protection of freedom of speech and provision of rights and freedoms of human are the main value and main supposition for creation of healthy democratic society in Ukraine.
We would like to inform you in brief about the main circumstances of the closure of media in Ukraine:
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 TV channel launched its broadcasting, however, an hour later and under the pressure from the authorities, Ukrainian telecom providers were compelled to stop the satellite broadcasting of the channel, even despite the previously agreed arrangements. The TV channel did not survive a day, and again without any legal background, we were denied our right to work and deprived of the access to our audience.
On July 30, 2020, the authorities revoked a license for broadcasting of "KRT" TV channel after the broadcast of the state festive event in Belarus.
Later, onAugust20, similarly, the authorities blocked the work of two more popular in Ukraine online media "Strana.ua" and "Sharij.net".
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.
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.
Staff of illegally closed Ukrainian media.
At the end of August, the journalists of illegally closed 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK TV channels, as well as Pershiy Nezalezhniy, representatives of Strana.ua and Sharij.net held protest near the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, during which they handed over a letter about illegal actions of the Ukrainian authorities against media representatives to the U.S. Embassy and the diplomatic mission accepted it.
Earlier, hundreds of journalists of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels gathered at the UN Office in Ukraine to show gratitude for the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "Update on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine," which deemed the closure of the TV channels illegal.
On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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.
Earlier, on February 20, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council on sanctions against 8 individuals and 19 legal entities. Among them are three Ukrainian citizens - the politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marchenko and the common-law wife of the owner of the NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine channels, Taras Kozak, Natalya Lavreniuk.
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.
During the last months, the world mass media, European politicians, and experts published over 70,000 materials dedicated to the persecution by Ukrainian authorities of the opposition and independent TV channels.