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Civil society claimed sanctions against “Medvedchuk’s TV channels” didn’t pose threat to freedom of speech

03.02.2021, 18:22
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Several NGOs and experts said that sanctions against Medvedchuk's TV channels, namely “112 Ukraina”, NewsOne and ZIK,  did not pose threat to freedom of speech, since they were employed as tools of foreign influence and repeatedly threatened Ukraine's information security. This is said in a joint statement published on February 3 by the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, as “Detektor Media” reported.

The NGOs said that suspension of activities of these channels was a step towards increasing the information security of Ukraine.

The statement was supported by the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, the International Volunteer Community “InformNapalm”, “Detector Media”,” StopFake”, Security Research Center “Prometheus”, Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”, VoxCheck, Center for Defense Reform, Euromaidan Press and Center for Army, Convrsion and Disarmement Studies.

“Detektor Media” published the full text of the statement:

“We, the representatives of Ukrainian civil society and expert community countering disinformation, insist that sanctions imposed on Taras Kozak, legal owner of TV-channels 112, ZIK and Newsone, and legal entities linked to him by the decree of President Volodymyr Zelensky on February 2, 2021 to implement the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, do not constitute an attack on the freedom of speech. 

These channels constitute tools of foreign influence operations, and therefore a systemic threat to information security of Ukraine for the following reasons:

-According to the Presidential Office of Ukraine, they are funded from the Russian Federation, which has been illegally occupying Crimea and territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for 7 years;

-They consistently promote Kremlin disinformation, including but not limited to the false, misleading and manipulative narratives of “fascist post-2014 Ukraine”, “Russophobia”, “Ukraine as a failed state” and “Ukraine is controlled by the West”. The general narrative of these channels is that Ukraine does not have a right to exist as a pro-European independent country;

-They have, on a number of occasions, supported Russian aggression against Ukraine (example 1, 2);

-These channels do not apply the principles of the freedom of speech and journalistic standards in their work (example);

-They repeatedly serve as a tool for political PR in favor of its owner’s pro-Russian political party;

-They frequently employ experts with no relevant education and professional experience to promote the political agenda favored by the channels’ owner;

-These channels served as a platform for promotion of the far-right.

Considering all of the above, 112, ZIK and Newsone cannot be considered genuine media intending to provide objective and unbiased information for the good of the public; they behave as tools of malign influence operations aimed to smuggle narratives of Kremlin propaganda under the mask of “domestic” Ukrainian media. Limiting their activities in Ukraine is a step towards enhancing information security of the Ukrainian state, especially vital during the ongoing Russian aggression against it”

As IMI reported, on February 2, the head of state enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of February 2, 2021 "On the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)", which provides for the introduction of sanctions against the people for five years MP Taras Kozak and legal entities licensed by 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK TV channels.

On February 2, 112 Ukraine, ZIK, and NewsOne said they viewed the sanctions as a political crackdown and would fight for the right to continue broadcasting.

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