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Suspilne reported to be under pressure from the President’s Office

20.10.2021, 12:20

Myroslava Barchuk, the host of the talk show "Countdown" (Zvorotniy Vidlik) on the UA: Pershiy TV channel, stated that the staff of the President's Office was making pressure on the program.

She said it on October 19 on Facebook.

According to the presenter, subordinates to the head of the Office of President Andriy Yermak accused the talk show of not meeting professional standards (lack of the balance of opinions in the program aired on October 18) and set their conditions for the presence of deputies from the "Servant of the People" in the studio.

“I would not pay attention to this informational slaughter, if it came from anonymous telegram channels and former journalists, if it were not a symptom of a much more serious problem. Firstly, since a long time and in a rough style, the President’s Office has been keeping control of presence of MPs from “The Servant of the People” faction in the programs. The candidates for the programs are accorded with the person of contact of M. Podolyak (Advisor to the Chairman Office of the President (OP). - Ed. ) in the President’s Office. This has nothing new. [...] Secondly, since recently, the OP sets forth conditions and issues ultimatums regarding the presence of "public servants" on air programs", - as Myroslava Barchuk wrote.

According to her, on October 11, the President's Office sent them an "ultimatum" precising that "two" servants "(both non-experts) or none" would be present in the program about energy security. 

"We decided not to accept any ultimatum and invited Lyudmila Buimister (MP. - Ed. ), who was no longer obeying the instructions of the OP," Barchuk wrote.

On Monday, October 18, "an ultimatum #2" came: "servants" (in quantity of two) will come on the air program, only if the editorial office refuses the previously invited Geo Leros (MP - Ed.)". 

"Sure, we took it as pressure. We refused to comply with the ultimatum, the representatives of the mono-majority did not come. This morning (October 19. - Ed. ), we have been accused by Yermak's people that we did not have any representatives of the mono-majority on the air program and this was a violation to the journalism standards, " as the presenter wrote.

Myroslava Barchuk called such actions of government officials to be "a threat to freedom of speech and independent journalism in general."

She also mentioned the pressure on journalists during Viktor Yanukovych's presidency.

"I find we should not ignore these signals, the test balls that the authorities are throwing at us. I am in the profession since a long time, I remember very well how it it had begun in 2010, when it was at first Hanna Herman who fixed the hosts in the studio to be invited, then the hosts on these TV channels, then they simply took away licenses from opposition TV channels, and then it turned into disaster. That’s why, I urge my colleagues not to succumb to pressure and to speak out loud about cases of pressure and blackmail, "the presenter said. 

She also urged MPs from the "Servant of the People" "not to take part in this blackmail (I suspect it does concern you too), come on the air programs, speak out of one’s stance and thus protect parliamentary democracy in the country by doing this, because authoritarianism is a threat to everyone, you including”.

The President's Office has not yet commented on Myroslava Barchuk's statement.

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