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Many regional media proposed to sell their websites through a Russian service

08.12.2023, 17:06

Many regional media in Ukraine have received emails with a proposal to sell their outlets and conclude the deal through a Russian service. "Poltavska Khvylia", "Kolo", "Kremenchutska Hazeta" (Poltava oblast), "Tochka Dostupu" (Kropivnytsky), the "Abo" website network, "" (Sumy oblast), "Vilne Radio" from Bakhmut, "Cheline" (Chernihiv), 18000 (Cherkasy), "Slobidsky Kray" (Kharkiv), "Mayak" (Odesa) received an identical offer to purchase their website, report the Poltava representative of IMI, Nadiya Kucher, and the IMI's own sources.

The author of the emails, who calls themselves Victoria, writes that their "approach to website purchase is based on the idea of preserving the uniqueness and value of each project," and that their "interest in the website is due to its potential and quality."

The email also says that the sale deal can be signed anonymously, through Telderi (a Russian service. – Ed.) or Escrow-services for the parties to "keep each other safe".

"Obviously, someone is working to build a network of media cesspools", assumes the "Poltavska Khvylia" editor-in-chief ,Vitaly Ulybin, and says that their editorial team wrote back with a refusal.

He added that the editors received the email on December 4 and refused the "tempting offer". But later he came across this email again and read it carefully.

"The way it was composed started to look interesting. The style, the automated translation, the emphasis on sale through exchanges and preservation of the outlet's uniqueness and concept led us to believe that this was an attempt by Russians to infiltrate our media space. I immediately started asking my colleagues from other oblasts, and indeed, most of the owners of more or less influential and large outlets also have gotten such 'happy letters' in their inbox. It is obvious that this is not a scamming attempt: when the editors tried to provoke the 'buyers' and demanded an inflated price, the buyers ghosted them. So this is not a scam, but someone's attempt to create a rather powerful network," said Vitaly Ulybin.

According to him, such "offers" are frightening, because soon the oblasts may witness a surge of fake news and disinformation from media outlets that were previously trusted and the people would not even know that they have been sold.

"Kremenchutska Hazeta" and "Kolo" refused as well.

The "Kremenchutska Hazeta" editor-in-chief, Oleh Bulashev, replied that the website was not for sale.

The CEO of "Vilne Radio", Anastasia Shibiko, told the IMI that a few months ago, their team experienced an information attack. Namely, the editors received offers to sell the website via the feedback form on the site.

"These messages were first in Russian, then in Ukrainian. The situation felt like an attack, we were constantly reminded to please respond to this message. We did not reply, because we had no intention to sell our website or the media outlet in general. We decided that if things get really tough, it would be better to close down. But we would will close down with dignity," commented Anastasia Shibiko.

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