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We'll turn to courts, file appeals: MEP Zdanoka promises support for reporters of media illegally closed by Zelensky

Source : 112 Ukraine

The lawmaker spoke to a journalist of Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel
16:00, 19 October 2021

EADaily

Members of the European Parliament will provide support for the journalists working for the media that had been illegally closed by Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky. Tatjana Ždanoka, the MEP from Latvia reported that during the TV show at Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel, speaking to host Nadiya Sas.

"The recipe is to support you, the journalists. And we, as politicians, will be doing so; we will go to courts, and we will be be present wherever we're needed. We'll file the appeals, including these to the ECHR. I suppose it can't be dismissed, it's still a powerful mechanism. Of course, sometimes they make quite strange decisions, and the majority is quite odd, but still, there always are different points of view, and it's not over yet, as they say. Some cases can be won. I created the committee for human rights in Latvia by myself, and we won a lot of cases in the European Court. So we'll be helping you, and you stay strong", Ždanoka said.

Earlier, workers of the independent Ukrainian media (112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZIK and Pershiy Nezalezhniy) held a rally on October 12, the day of EU-Ukraine summit in order to get the attention of the summit’s guests to the issue of violation of freedom of speech in Ukraine.

As participants of the summit drove along Boryspilska highway near Kyiv, journalists deployed banners in Ukrainian and English, claiming that the media were illegally shut down by the government, and Volodymyr Zelensky was “destroying freedom of speech in Ukraine”. The reporters had their mouths closed with a scotch tape. 

On the day of the summit, from 9:00 to 12:00, journalists of Pershiy Nezalezhniy held a special broadcast dedicated to the events of the EU-Ukraine summit. On this day, journalists of the illegally closed Ukrainian media held a rally outside the walls of the Mariinsky Palace and at other locations visited by the guests of the summit.

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.

Former owner of the Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel Roman Lyubytsky spread a false statement that he had nothing to do with the sale of the TV channel to the Novyny media holding. Lyubytsky's statement is not true, as his authorized representative acted on his behalf, and Lyubytsky himself received payment for the sale of the TV channel.

On August 20, the sanctions were imposed on the editor-in-chief of the Internet portal Strana.ua Igor Guzhva, the publishing companies of Strana.ua, blogger and journalist Anatoly Shariy and his wife Olga. As a result, Strana.ua and Shariy.net were blocked.

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.

In connection with the illegal actions of the authorities, the journalists appealed to the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken regarding the introduction of total censorship and a serious threat to freedom of information in Ukraine, 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, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan, and the Spokesperson of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Marta Hurtado. And the Council of Europe recommended journalists of illegally closed Pershiy Nezalezhniy channel to appeal to ECHR.

At the beginning of September, the journalists of the illegally closed TV channels were visited by the Secretary of the Senator of France, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and the Armed Forces of the French Senate, member of NATO PA and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Joël Guerriau and member of French Senate, member of the commission of Foreign Affairs and Defense Forces Nathalie Goulet. The senator said that their visit have started with the visit of the Embassy of France in Ukraine and meeting with the ambassador, during which, the diplomats were informed by the concern of the Union of Journalists of France and the OSCE about the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine.

In addition, the journalists 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.

The journalists of the closed media sent a letter to the PACE delegates, where they told about the pressure of the authorities on the independent media in Ukraine and asked for their assessment. They were also supported by the Charity Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech in Ukraine, whose Chairperson sent a letter to US President Joe Biden in connection with the government's persecution of independent media in Ukraine.

Earlier, on October 27, a regular session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe started. The journalists of Pershiy Nezalezhniy worked at the site and informed its participants about the illegal actions of the Ukrainian authorities against independent media, such as 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZIK, Pershiy Nezalezhniy, as well as Strana.uа and Shariy.net agencies. As part of the Assembly meeting, journalists handed over the letters, and brochures detailing the pressure on freedom of speech in Ukraine to hundreds of European politicians, in particular, MEPs, PACE delegates, Foreign Ministry officials, European politicians, ministers and officials from different countries.

Over the past four months, the world media, European politicians, and experts have published more than 96,900 materials on the persecution of the opposition and independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities.

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