HOTLINE(050) 447-70-63
We are available 24/7
Leave your contact details
and we contact you
Thank you for reaching out

Or contact us:

[email protected]

(050) 447-70-63

File a complaint

"Topic guidelines", pressure on employees: UP studies Ukrinform under Matsuka

29.05.2024, 16:48

During his time as the director of the news agency Ukrinform, journalist Oleksiy Matsuka, who is considered a protege of the President's Office, introduced censorship, "topic guidelines", and planned to overhaul the agency so as to appoint the "right" people to certain positions. This is reported by "Ukrainian Pravda" in their article "No outisders around. How the President's Office is taking control over Ukrinform".

"Topic guidelines"

According to the UP, Oleksiy Matsuka shared "topic guidelienes" in the teams' group chats, indicating which topics should and should not be reported on.

"Ukrainian Pravda" published the documents sent by Matsuka to different regions. Almost every file had an "unwanted guests" column listing the people, organizations, local officials whose comments should not be used in reporting.

Screenshot from "Ukrainian Pravda". Columns: "Topics", "Guests", "Unwanted guests"

All documents revealed a trend: the "unwanted guests" are primarily figures oppositing the current government. However, some of them were also people from regions that have had no water supply for a long time.

Screenshot from "Ukrainian Pravda". Columns: "Topics", "Guests", "Unwanted guests"

The agency's staff refused to work by such "documents".

"When Matsuka found out that the 'topic guidelines' had spread throughout the agency, and not just among regional correspondents, he got scared. He denied everything at first, then said that he had only sent two columns (topics and guests. – Ed.), and the third one (with "unwanted guests." – Ed.) was written in by someone else. After a while he even went out of his way to order Ukrinform correspondents in these regions to make reports featuring all the 'unwanted guests,'" an eyewitness of the events at Ukrinform told the UP.

While speaking with the UP, people from the President's Office media team denied their involvement in the introduction of "topic guidelines" at Ukrinform. Oleksiy Matsuka refused to say where he got them.

Forming a new team

The article says that Oleksiy Matsuka and his team immediately started looking for ways to overhaul the agency in order to downsize the staff and appoint new management.

"What they failed to consider was that, according to the current law, a state institution employee can not be fired simply on the boss's whim. Even if a position is being eliminated, the person must be offered another job. So some employees from the 'old' team were openly pressured and threatened with dismissal to force them to resign of their own initiative," the article states.

The journalists report that Matsuka's team encouraged new employees with promises to postpone their conscription. The UP's sources at Ukrinform who were hired by the agency's deputy CEO Yehor Siharyov, said off the record that he listed the booking option as an important perk of the job.

The UP also writes that Matsuka's team at Ukrinform was primarily interested in financial reports.

"Lyosha had a pretty good salary back at FREEDOM (Matsuka's declaration, submitted at the time of his resignation, states that he received almost 2 million hryvnias at FREEDOM in 2023. – Ed.). He came to Karandeyev and said: 'I can't make a living with this money (the Ukrinform salary. – Ed.).' He asked for a salary at least equal to what he had at FREEDOM. The Office also asked the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to resolve this issue. The Ministry increased his salary, agreed on bonuses for him and his team," a government official close to the state media told the UP off the record.

According to the data provided to the UP by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, in January–April 2024, Oleksiy Matsuka and his deputy Yehor Siharyov each received a 287% bonus from their salaries.

The deputy CEO Iryna Cherednychenko, who has been working at the agency for a long time, was assigned the lowest bonus rate – 40%.

Layoffs at Ukrinform

In early 2024, Ukrinform employees began to resign en masse. The data provided by the agency in response to a request from the UP shows that 45 people have left Ukrinform since Oleksiy Matsuka's appointment (with 30 resigning within the last three months), including heads of creative departments, journalists, videographers, photojournalists, and marketers. One of them was Maryna Synhayivska, a deputy CEO and the curator of almost all editorial team. All of them had worked at the agency for years and resisted the pressure from above in the last six months.

Ukrainian journalists (including an Ukrinform representative) meeting G7 ambassadors

In January, G7 ambassadors met with Ukrainian journalists and editors. The conversation lasted several hours. It was not Oleksiy Matsuka who was invited to represent Ukrinform at this meeting, but his deputy Maryna Synhayivska, who had still been working at the agency at that time.

The UP's sources who were present at the meeting say that Synhayivska was crying while talking about the pressure and the new management's efforts to impose censorship at Ukrinform. She also showed the ambassadors and her colleagues the "recommendations" that Matsuka sent out to the regional editorial teams.

"Everyone was shocked: both the ambassadors and us too. Everything that was said after Maryna Synhayivska's speech was dull," a meeting attendee told UP anonymously.

The decision to dismiss Matsuka

The PO learned about the meeting between the media representatives and the G7 ambassadors immediately. According to the UP's sources in the President's entourage, Bankova St. immediately started discussing possible scenarios of dodging the bullet "so that no one would know that they screwed up" at Ukrinform.

For several months, OP and MCIP discussed inviting an expert who would work at the agency and monitor its adherence to standards. Then there was an idea to create an independent supervisory board. But no decision was made.

According to the UP's sources in the Cabinet of Ministers and the PO, Bankova St. finally decided to follow the well-paved path – to dismiss Oleksiy Matsuka. No person – no problem.


On May 24, 2024, Oleksiy Matsuka announced that he had resigned as the Ukrinform director general.

It was reported on May 23 that the spokesman of the UAF Eastern Group, Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty, has been appointed director general of the national news agency Ukrinform.

As IMI reported, on May 23, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree ordering that the director general of the Ukrainian National News Agency Ukrinform be an army serviceperson.

Institute of Mass Information director Oksana Romaniuk has said that an army officer running the news agency Ukrinform may face a direct conflict of interest.

At his first meeting with the Ukrinform team, Serhiy Cherevaty said that no major staff changes were planned and that he would take healthy ideas from the team into account while organizing Ukrinform's work.

The director of the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Romaniuk, believes that in order to solve the censorship crisis at Ukrinform, the President's Office should ensure a transparent competition for the post of the media outlet's director.

Liked the article?
Help us be even more cool!