French senator Nathalie Goulet has sent the request to Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian on illicit actions of the Ukrainian authorities against the closure of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK, Pershyi Nezalezhnyi TV channels, as well as Strana.ua and Shariy.net.
The request states that the measures assumed by the Ukrainian authorities threaten the free circulation of information, the principle of free competition in mass media, and freedom of speech in general as Strana reported.
“Ukraine is a neighboring and friendly country, with which the European Union maintains close relations within the Eastern Partnership. It was never disputed that Ukraine has undergone serious territorial aggression and it has the legal right for protection, including the decision under its only sovereignty, protecting its national security.
During the last few months, many mass media were closed without any ground and without trial on the pretext of the protection of national security. However, the acceleration of the assumed measures of the Ukrainian authorities toward the leading TV channels and websites: 112 and ZiK news TV channels, Strana.ua website, and consequently attacks on the principles of freedom of speech lead us to the necessity to respond. The opposition leader was put on house arrest and punished without proceeding.
Different measures assumed by the Ukrainian authorities threaten free circulation of information, the principle of free competition in mass media and freedom of speech in general. The concern is real and on the legal grounds it is necessary to provide the efficiency of the principles of the European Union and its standards on freedom of the press, including within the Eastern Partnership and policy of neighbourship with Ukraine,” Goulet stated.
The French senator has also asked the minister to specify what measures would be assumed by France.
“For example, in his previous request on the growth of far-rights in Ukraine, he has recognized for the first time their existence; however, he specified that Ukraine is a democratic country and there is the same number of far-right activists as in any other European country. Then, he received counter-question –about what democracy it is possible to talk if freedom of speech is violated – the TV channels undesirable by the authorities are being closed; member of the opposition faction is put under the house arrest. For the first time in Europe, at such level, the issue was raised about the attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine,” the source in the political circles of France told to Strana.
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. then, the delegation became the guest of Pershyi Nezalezhnyi TV channel, where they discussed the issue of circumstances of closure of independent 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZiK, Pershyi Nezalezhnyi TV channels, as well as the number of other mass media by the authorities of Ukraine. After that, the representatives of the French Senate have met the Chairman of the Political Council of Opposition Platform - For Life Party Viktor Medvedchuk.
“We return to France with a very clear and particular road map that concerns many things tied with Ukraine. There are issues of decentralization, corruption, and freedom of speech. You will see soon that we tell it to our colleagues in France, we will strive for the fulfillment of the agreements that we have discussed here,” Goulet stated.
We remind that employees of illegally closed by the Ukrainian authorities 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and Zik TV channels, as well as Pershiy Nezalezhniy which was closed by a letter from the Deputy Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) without trial and Strana.ua and Shariy.net websites wrote an open letter to the 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.
Earlier, 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.
On the eve, they wrote an open letter to European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy from 2010 to 2014 Stefan Füle and ex-President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski, who came to Kyiv for the YES international conference, 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. Kwaśniewski, inform European politicians about the violation of freedom of speech in Ukraine,” “112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZIK, Pershiy Nezalezhniy were illegally closed by the authorities - Zelensky is destroying freedom of speech in Ukraine,” “Mr. Füle, tell Zelensky to adhere to the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees freedom of speech (Article 34).”
By the way, this is not the only rally of the journalists of the illegally closed 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZIK and Pershy Nezalezhniy TV channels where they call on the international community to pay attention to the problem of freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Earlier, teams the TV channels and websites illegally closed by the Ukrainian authorities wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about total censorship and a serious threat to freedom of information in Ukraine.
The also met with the Secretary of the Senate, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Joël Guerriau, and the Vice-President of the Committee on Constitutional Laws, Legislation, Universal Suffrage, Rules and General Administration (LOISa) of the French Senate Nathalie Goulet and informed the senators about the catastrophic situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Before that, they appealed to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with a request to pay attention to the problem of the destruction of freedom of speech in Ukraine and to influence the Ukrainian government in general and President Zelensky in particular.
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.
Before that, on August 23, hundreds of journalists of illegally closed channels held a rally demanding the protection of freedom of speech in Ukraine. The journalists planned to hold a rally under the building of the National Opera, where the participants of the Crimean Platform gathered, but the police did not let them in.
In addition, 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.