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Ukraine is on a very low level of freedom of press, - Maximilian Krah MEP

The German MEP commented the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine and the particular case of a meeting of the President prior to the Court of Appeal of Kyiv ruled decision against 112 Ukraine TV channel, which may bring to deprivation of their broadcasting license
12:00, 18 September 2019

Weiler Krah Petersen LLP

Freedom of press index shows that Ukraine is on a very low level of freedom of the press. Maximilian Krah, German MEP, the Identity and Democracy Group, said commenting on the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine and the particular case of a meeting of the President prior to the Court of Appeal of Kyiv ruled decision against 112 Ukraine TV channel, which may bring to deprivation of their broadcasting license.

“We have to say that the freedom of press index shows that Ukraine is on a very low level of freedom of the press. And what we see now is an extraordinary attack on freedom of press and if Ukraine wants to join European Union or at least wants to be a partner of the European Union, it has to accept that even opposite opinions are allowed, that liberty always is the liberty of those who think differently to the government,” Maximilian Krah said.

The German MEPs considers it absolutely unacceptable to shut down TV stations only because the government doesn’t like what they show the reality of the country.

“This is absolutely unacceptable to shut down TV stations only because the government doesn’t like what they show the reality of the country. So, I heard about this case and I think it’s incredible and it is a bad sign for all truly interested in European Ukraine,” Krah added.

On September 16, the Sixth Court of Appeal of Kyiv ruled decision against 112 Ukraine TV channel, which may bring to deprivation of their broadcasting license. Earlier, the media found out that Zelensky's Office summoned two of three judges who consider the case on 112 Ukraine's licenses. The Office of the President of Ukraine is headed by lawyer Andriy Bohdan, whom journalists and experts call the protégé of the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

The previous government also put pressure on the broadcaster using the trick with non-prolongation of licenses for the channel. After the presidential election, not only legal pressure but also physical pressure on 112 Ukraine TV channel intensified. Threats of physical violence started coming to journalists, and the building of 112 Ukraine TV channel was shelled from a grenade launcher on July 13.

Recent events surrounding 112 Ukraine TV channel provoked a reaction from many international organizations that called on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure freedom of speech in the country and investigate all the facts of pressure on independent media.

After the terrorist attack, British MEP, member of the inter-parliamentary committee of Ukraine-EU association Nathan Gill registered a written address to the European Commission with a call to pay attention to the unprecedented attack on the leading news channel.

Later, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated that European Union expected the full investigation of the attack on the building of 112 Ukraine TV channel.

The Council of Europe also reacted to the shelling of the building of the channel, describing the events around the attack. The CoE also stated some employees of '112 Ukraine' had received messages with threats.

“Oliver Stone's "Revealing Ukraine" documentary was considered as "anti-Ukrainian narratives of Kremlin propaganda" by the Ministry of Information Policy. Channel 112 cancelled the broadcasting in order to avoid possible legal consequences and requested police protection, but the police didn't follow-up on the request, neither before the attack or after, according to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. '112 Ukraine' now strengthened its protection on its own,” the message of Council of Europe reads.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, condemned the grenade launcher attack on the office building of 112 Ukraine TV channel in Kyiv. “Hopefully nobody was wounded but such violence and threats against media cannot be tolerated. This is an unacceptable act of intimidation which could have had dramatic consequences,” Désir said, calling for the swift response of law enforcement officials in the case.

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine expressed expectation for a thorough investigation of the grenade launcher attack on 112 Ukraine TV channel building. The diplomatic establishment stated that physical attacks against journalists and mass media outlets’ offices were unacceptable.

European Federation of Journalists strongly condemns grenade launcher attack on 112 Ukraine TV channel. "The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Ukraine, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), in condemning the attack on private TV broadcaster 112 Ukraine,” the EFJ stated. The message stressed that the channel had received a warning after the TV planned to broadcast the public premiere of the documentary of Oliver Stone “Revealing Ukraine.” 

A well-known British organization Index on Censorship published its July report on Press freedom in Ukraine, in which stated on violations against some journalists and media. The report also mentioned the attack on 112 Ukraine TV channel.

 

The Index on Censorship notes that “Channel 112 has come under pressure from nationalist groups since it was purchased last year by Taras Kozak, a close ally of controversial Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, often criticised for his pro-Russian views and ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.” Another channel Kozak also owns, NewsOne, was also attacked by the radicals in July. They interfered with the work of the journalists, burned flares and threw cracker at the building of the channel.

 

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