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Media Movement calls on "Voice of America" to fire Russian propagandist Harry Knyagnitsky – statement

23.02.2023, 10:20
Photo: RTVI
Photo: RTVI

The Ukrainian association Media Movement calls on the management of the "Voice of America" to fire Harry Knyagnitsky, a former employee of the Russian state-sponsored channel NTV, from their Russian service. The channel has been sanctioned the European Union for "continuous and concerted disinformation and war propaganda actions, which legitimise Russia’s aggression."

During his time at NTV, Harry Knyagnitsky was personally involved in propaganda, filming reports about the Russo-Ukrainian war. For example, demonizing the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the report "'Genocide and extermination:' Donbas residents are horrified by the Ukrainian army's actions". The report ends with Knyagnitsky's statement about the evacuated children: "The children are happy, thinking that the war is over for them. But the National Guard is already approaching Donetsk." We remind you that the supposed defense of the "people of the Donbas" is is one of the arguments that Russian propaganda uses to justify Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine.

In his reports, Knyagnitsky often accuses Ukraine of killing its own citizens (here, here, here). At the same time, the NTV correspondent in no way mentions that it was Russia that started the war and attacked the neighboring state, and that Ukraine is trying to defend itself. We remind you that the European Court of Human Rights recently recognized a part of the Donbas by to have been occupied by Russia in 2014. But in Knyagnitsky's reports, the rroles are distributed differently: Ukraine seems to be "capturing" its own cities, the "Donbas self-defense forces" are on the defense, and Russia is supplying humanitarian aid. In one of the reports, Knyagnitsky speaks about Russian fighters who literally forced to attack a Ukrainian tank, otherwise it will destroy a residential neighborhood.

During his time at NTV, Knyagnitsky seems to have managed to support all Russia's propaganda narratives. His reports have been normalizing the abduction of Ukrainian children, legitimizing the annexation of Crimea, and portraying the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity as a coup d'état.

In 2017, Harry Knyagnytskyi left NTV, but did not change his views. At his next workplace – the American bureau of RTVI – he speculated that it was Ukraine that had provoked Russia to shell and seize Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait.

Perhaps the American VOA service will also be interested in what its employee wrote about 2021 anti-racism protests in the United States: "Wherever Blacks are, there is crime. This is what the Russians who moved from South and East Harlem say. A year ago, things were peaceful there, but after Floyd's death and the subsequent protests, it has became dangerous to be here. But today it is considered politically incorrect to associate this with African Americans."

We would like to remind you that the first point of the VOA Mission is to serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. This is impossible while outspoken Russian propagandists are working at the editorial office. While such authors are writing about the Russian aggression despite having contributed to it themselves in the recent past.

The second point of the VOA Mission is to represent America. Does America want a former propagandist to be its voice?

The Media Movement calls on the "Voice of America" to fire Harry Knyagnitsky, to conduct an internal investigation into how he managed to get a position in the media outlet. And to publish the results of this investigation.

The Media Movement statement was signed by:

  • Zurab Alasania, journalist, media manager;
  • Andriy Yanitskyi, media project "Drone Media";
  • Kostyantyn Kvurt, board chairman at NGO "Internews-Ukraine";
  • Tetyana Pechonchyk, board chairwoman at the "ZMINA" Center for Human Rights;
  • Alyona Romaniuk, fact checker at "NotaYenota";
  • Taras Petriv, president of the Souspilnist Foundation;
  • Mykola Chernotytskyi, "Suspilne" board chairman;
  • Svitlana Ostapa, NGO "Media Detector";
  • Natalia Ligachova, NGO "Media Detector";
  • Vadym Miskyi, NGO "Media Detector";
  • Svitlana Eremenko, executive director of the Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy;
  • Andriy Kulikov, co-founder of "Hromadske Radio";
  • Oksana Romaniuk, the Institute of Mass Information;
  • Chrystyna Kotsyra, "hromadske" editor-in-chief;
  • Dmytro Tuzov, journalist and host of Radio NV;
  • Oleh Bazar, "" editor-in-chief;
  • Natalia Sokolenko, "Ukrainian Radio";
  • Yana Brenzei, TV host at "STB" channel;
  • Daria Hirna, journalist, director of the Liberation Movement Research Center;
  • Vadym Karpyak, TV host, ICTV channel;
  • Tetyana Lebedeva, member of the Journalistic Ethics Commission.

The statement is open for signing. To sign, please send an affirmation of support for the Ukrainian Media Community's Statement to [email protected] in the following format: First Name/Last Name/Organization (media outlet).

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