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Bill on media censorship proposed to Parliament

The scandalous draft law was registered in Verkhovna Rada on November 7
17:43, 14 November 2018

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Open source

The Verkhovna Rada was proposed to introduce media censorship under the disguise of fighting Russian aggression. The bill “On protection of the information space” was registered in the Parliament on November 7. This is stated by the FreeNet Ukraine Coalition, which condemned such actions of the MPs.

At the same time, the Law of Ukraine "On sanctions" provides that special measures can be applied to the citizens only if they carry out terrorist acts.

“Despite this, the draft law authors propose to consider “providing information support to the terrorist organizations, illegal armed groups, other entities that commit, take part in or assist terrorist activities, support the occupation of Ukraine’s territory and armed aggression against Ukraine” as an element of terrorism.” Such support includes creation or spreading the information that supports, promotes, popularizes, and shows them in positive light," the coalition statement says.

The coalition also says that provisions of this bill create opportunity for the authorities to arbitrarily and illegally interfere in the work of media (including Internet agencies), which is a threat especially in the upcoming elections. In addition, the application of the Law "On sanctions" towards media contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 34).

Related: National Council fines two providers for rebroadcasting Russian TV channels

“Giving to the Verkhovna Rada an exclusive right to determine which media can be sanctioned, not only continues the practice of illegally obstructing and terminating media activities, but also creates real threats of political censorship and pressure on the media during the electoral process. This bill does not introduce procedures and clear criteria of sanctioning the media. The proposed definition of “information support” for terrorism allows arbitrary interpretation, according to which even mentioning the illegal groups in the media can be considered as popularization and equated to terrorist activities. Thus, the deputies will have an almost unlimited right to interfere in the media activities, based only on their own political will, "the activists warn.

The organization stressed that in order to limit illegal content in the internet, it is necessary to develop judicial mechanisms that will meet international standards on protection of human rights.   

In connection with this, the FreeNet Ukraine Coalition called on the authors of the bill to withdraw it and called on the MPs not to support it.

Earlier it was reported that the bill No.9275 proposes to extend the concept of “funding and other ways of facilitation of terrorism” of the counter-terrorism law. In particular, to specify that it is also about the informational support of the terrorist organizations or illegal armed formations. Therefore, production and distribution of the information which positively covers occupation of Ukrainian territories and armed aggression against Ukraine is a service to terrorism.

It also provides that only Ukraine’s Parliament can offer the National Security and Defence Council to impose sanctions against “mass media, broadcast, television and radio organizations and other subjects of informational activity in television and radio sector, their founders, beneficiaries, who are Ukraine’s residents”.

Related: Anti-Ukrainian sanctions to affect 360 companies, 50 individuals, - Russian media

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