Employees 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.
In particular, they recalled that the authorities, represented by President Volodymyr Zelensky, had grossly violated the principles of the rule of law by closing independent media outlets with the help of National Security and Defense Council sanctions.
According to Denys Zharkykh, the host of the Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel, the journalists came to the conference to defend the principles of freedom of speech.
“We came to defend freedom for our viewers ... This is really very important, we defend freedom of speech, our rights, we defend a different way, a different way of thinking. And if in our country, in fact, brains are cut off, some thoughts are cut off - then they do it badly for the country, they do it badly for the audience. Well, and the fact that in our country not everything is all right, if in 30 years we have not reached the level of the Ukrainian SSR in economics, then, probably, something is wrong. There is a reaction, as you can see, it is just that Zelensky has no reaction. But if Zelensky does not have a brain, there is no understanding of what a democratic society is, what a democratic state is, where it generally needs to be led, and not just grimace and shoot videos. This is Zelensky's problem, not the problem of the Ukrainian people, not the problem of the Ukrainian state. Recently, Viktor Medvedchuk made a speech, where he said that we need to resist. But he called it not for Maidan, but for reflection. The most important thing is to bring back freedom of speech in Ukraine - this is a necessary element to start the revival of Ukraine, there is no other way to do it," Zharkykh said.
"I always support all rallies, which, first of all, the government directs against journalists, and we oppose the government, because what is happening today with the media, in general, does not fit into any framework or Euro values, nor other values that exist in this world, especially within the framework of freedom of speech and freedom of thought and expression of will of the citizens of Ukraine and, including Ukrainian journalists. That's why we are here today, where many representatives of the EU and the United States have gathered to show them that Ukrainian journalists should not be broken, they will continue to do so," political and military expert Yuriy Dudkin commented on the rally.
According to political scientist Oleksiy Yakubin, the closure of TV channels in Ukraine, the center of Europe, is unprecedented.
"International pressure or such point actions undoubtedly affect the situation. Now we just need to do what is necessary. It is important to draw the attention of international politicians to the situation in Ukraine, because it affects them in any case. Because they talk about freedom of speech, democratic standards from all sides, and here this situation with the closure of TV channels reminds them that there must be more action. This applies to both Ukrainian and Western politicians. I believe that holding rallies, writing appeals and letters are important things," Yakubin said.
The day before, staff of the relevant media 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 about the serious threat to freedom of information in Ukraine and the introduction of total censorship.
In the letter, the journalists recalled that the last two years in Ukraine have been marked by an increasingly fierce struggle between the authorities and the unwanted media, which are not afraid to tell the truth about the numerous mistakes of the current government and dare to voice a direct disregard for its commitments and promises to its voters.
During the rally, they were holding posters with the words: "Mr. Kwasniewski, inform European politicians about violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine", "Pershiy Nezalezhniy, 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and Zik were illegally closed by the authorities - Zelensky is destroying freedom of speech in Ukraine","Mr. Fule, tell Zelensky to comply with the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees freedom of speech (Article 34)."
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.