It's all in the hands of regional political elites
Media outlets under influence of Dobkin and Kernes
The whole network of family relations can be traced in the ownership structure of “Channel 7” (LLC “Regional TV Company “Tonis-Center”) – it has four owners. The final beneficiary (40%) is Oksana Haysynska, daughter of the prosecutor Yuri Haysynskyi. Alla Dobkina, wife of Mykhailo Dobkin, and Olha Kirillova, wife of the commercial director of Gorky Park in Kharkiv, own 25% each. Ten more per cent is owned by Maryna Stamatina, the wife of the top executive of Kharkiv subway Viacheslav Stamatin.
Many of these names can be found in numerous journalist investigations related to the activities of Kharkiv mayor Hennadiy Kernes.
The mayor controls the communal newspaper “Kharkovskiye izvestiya”. Formally, the newspaper is a communal enterprise founded by Kharkiv city council. As the regional representative of IMI mentioned in her analysis: “In 4 of 6 news stalls, they never even heard about this newspaper. That is, its number of copies is so small it is being distributed at subway entrances or by subscription. It is about the city council's newspaper “Kharkovskiye izvestiya”, whose announced number of copies outside the elections period is only 2 thousand. Based on multiple materials, it is owned by the mayor's “mouthpieces”, and its number of copies can be increased in the periods before elections”.
A year and a half ago, Kharkiv journalists believed the media group "Dozory", which includes the websites “Vostochnyi Dozor” (dozor.kharkov.ua) and “Spravzhnia Varta” (varta.kharkov.ua), belonged to the sphere of Hennadiy Kernes’ influence. The group owner is journalist Rostyslav Kasiyanenko, whom at the time Kharkiv journalists considered to be close to Hennadiy Kernes. Although, now the situation has changed and Kasiyanenko himself denies any connections to the city mayor. Local media specialists think the website is now connected to Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc. In particular, it often reports on activities of the head of Kharkivska Oblast State Administration Yulia Svitlychna, who used to head the oblast branch of this party"
Avakov's non-transparent media
The channel “ATN” (LLC „TV company „ATN”) lists the son of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Oleksandr Avakov, as its ultimate owner. Also, the following people are listed as having a substantial share of this channel: Ihor Morkotonov, Ihor Kotvytskyi, and Oleh Hayevoy. It is difficult to identify the specific shares these people own, as the channel did not publish the ownership structure on its website, and the link that was filed to the National Council, was dead at the time we were preparing this material.
The media outlet “Glavnoye” also follows a clearly pro-Avakov line. Its newsfeed is full of panegyric news about the minister. For this reason, the media community sees this website as controlled by Avakov and “People's Front”. Yet, they failed to identify specific owners due to lack of information and contacts, and its editorial office ignored the IMI's direct request.
The popular TV channels of Kharkiv are divided between two other families of local politicians. The TV channel “Simon” is owned by the media group “Obyektyv”. The owners of the TV channel, in the end of the chain of several companies, are four people from Davtian family: Innesa, Karina, Oleksandr and Dmytro. Oleksandr Davtian is Kharkiv city councilmember from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc.
The channel “R1” (TV and Radio Company “Region”) was founded by the son-in-law of the late former head of Kharkiv oblast state administration, Yevhen Kushnariov, Oleksandr Kahanovskyi. And the media company itself – the TV and Radio Company “Region” – is the founder of the newspaper “Vechirniy Kharkiv”. This way, Kushnariov's family owns two media outlets.
The newspaper “Vremya” and the similarly-named media center are assets of the PrJSC “Vremya”, which is directly owned by the co-leader of the party “Nash Krai”, Oleksandr Feldman.
The website “Status Quo” (sq.com.ua) is said to have links to the former Party of Regions member, who at the last elections ran for local council from the President's party "Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc", the director general of CJSC “Turboatom”, Victor Subotin. Among the founders of the information agency there are LLC “Securities company “Investa”, where Viktor Subotin is the founder and the ultimate owner. Another founder of the IA is Olena Zhukova, the top executive of CJSC “Megabank”, owned by Subotin.
The website and media center “Kharkiv Today” (2day.kh.ua) are said to be affiliated with the local center of “Samopomich” and its representative Vsevolod Kozhemyaka. As the regional IMI representative reports, the media center regularly hosts press conferences of the party representatives, and the website actively covers the activities of Kharkiv anti-corruption center, which is controlled by "Samopomich” activists.
State-owned and independent
State-owned media outlets are traditionally represented by the oblast TV channel and radio station “OTB”. They are, in fact, departments of the oblast branch of CJSC “National public TV and Radio Company of Ukraine”.
The founders of the newspaper “Slobidskyi Krai”, according to the register of printed media outlets, are Kharkiv oblast council and Kharkiv oblast state administration, as well as the media outlet’s staff. In the legal field, the staff of “Editorial office of Newspaper “Slobidskyi Krai” exists as a communal enterprise of the oblast council.
Among the independent media, two online media outlets stand out. The city website of Kharkiv (057.ua) is owned by the network CitySites. Its main office is in Mariupol. The co-owner of the network, as they say, is entrepreneur Fedir Zhukov, and the network is supervised by its executive director Yevhen Yavtushenko.
The same group of media outlets not controlled by politician includes the website “Nakipelo” (nakipelo.ua). The website and press center position themselves as the project of the NGO “Kharkiv Crisis Infocenter”. The founders of NGO “KHAKI” are journalists Natalia Shulha and Roman Danilenkov. The center supports journalist and educational projects.
Analysis was prepared by Zoya Krasovska, IMI, supported by the Ukrainian Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI), and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).