Ukraine: freedom of the press does not mean the right to malicious propaganda

USA& ; supported the position of the Ukrainian authorities in the OSCE on sanctions aimed at countering Russian disinformation

KIEV – The United States supports Ukraine’s decision on «defending sovereignty and territorial integrity by countering direct and malicious Russian influence». US Charge d’Affaires to the OSCE stated this Courtney Ostrian during his speech at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 4 February.

She stressed that «Moscow wants you to believe that freedom of the press means the ability to manipulate the media in another sovereign country», notes the website of the US Mission to the OSCE.

«I want to make it clear: freedom of the press does not include the right to disseminate malicious propaganda and disinformation.», – she added.

In response to the words of the representative of the Russian side to the OSCE, Courtney Ostrian noted that «the media organizations that my Russian colleague spoke about are controlled by Viktor Medvedchuk, who has direct personal ties with Vladimir Putin and in 2014 came under US sanctions […]».

«Medvedchuk has a long history of using the media to promote pro-Kremlin positions that undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Additional media outlets closed by Ukraine are well-known instruments of Russian propaganda aimed at destabilizing Ukraine.», – noted Courtney Ostrian.

According to media reports, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro called on the Ukrainian authorities «find a balanced and proportional solution to counter propaganda, a solution that preserves media pluralism, free flow of information and diversity of opinion, in line with international standards and OSCE commitments».

In Ukraine, sanctions were introduced this week against three TV channels broadcasting throughout the country, as well as MP Taras Kozak.

According to the press service of the President of Ukraine on February 2, Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a relevant decree, which put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of February 2, 2021. «On the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)».

Personal special economic and other restrictive measures will be applied, in particular, to a citizen of Ukraine Taras Kozak, and a number of legal entities, the message says..

Eight enterprises are named in the sanctions list published on the website of the leader of Ukraine closer to 23:00 local time on February 2.

The European and International Association of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) called the decision of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to disconnect three TV channels from broadcasting
«extrajudicial and politically motivated ban» and «blatant attack on press freedom».

Imposed sanctions cut off digital user networks for three TV companies – NewsOne, ZIK and 112. Ukraine, which moved their broadcasting to the YouTube platform. According to a number of experts, the audience of the three closed TV channels was up to seven million viewers..

Sanctions against propaganda

Political scientist Olesya Yakhno-Belkovskaya notes that the NSDC decision on the sanctions was made back in 2018.

«If we analyze the channels, then they criticized first Poroshenko, and then Zelensky, there was no big difference for them between Poroshenko and Zelensky, both politicians were in the focus of criticism. Sooner or later, any president was faced with the fact that something needs to be done: to establish the line where there is freedom of speech, discussion and the opposite point of view, or to leave the sound of Russian propaganda cliches», – says Olesya Yakhno-Belkovskaya to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».

She believes that Petro Poroshenko in 2018 could not impose sanctions, since the country was preparing for the presidential campaign, society and Ukrainian politics would have perceived such a step as a manifestation of political pressure on opponents..

«Zelensky did not impose sanctions before, because he was afraid of losing part of the electorate, part of those who accepted the pro-Russian agenda., «Russian world». But as Medvedchuk is active, he is now a people’s deputy, and has developed activity around the Russian vaccine. «Satellite», and the exchange of hostages, a separate position was taken by the HLE faction and about Nicaragua, photographs with Putin, – news channels became an appendage of his activities», – emphasizes Olesya Yakhno-Belkovskaya.

Ukraine: freedom of the press does not mean the right to malicious propaganda

She also notes that today in Ukrainian society there is no «a large number of defenders of these TV channels», and judging by the reaction in society, «majority on the side of the Ukrainian government».

Not so clear

A different point of view is shared by the co-chairman of the Energy Strategies Fund Dmitry Marunich. According to the expert, the sanctions against three TV channels and People’s Deputy Taras Kozak resemble a political reprisal against an opponent..

«There is a court, if a person is suspected of something, then he must answer according to the law, by a legal method he must be brought to justice. The NSDC meeting was not held in accordance with the established procedure, its members were summoned one by one to the president’s office and given a folder for signature. This is very seriously reminiscent of an attempt to political reprisals against an opponent.», – says Dmitry Marunich to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».

The introduction of sanctions against TV channels, in his opinion, is a reaction to a sharp drop in the rating of Volodymyr Zelensky and his party, which actually collapsed in the Verkhovna Rada.».

He does not exclude that such steps by the authorities can be repeated, but until the moment when a legal assessment of the current situation is not given..

«There will still be a legal assessment. Everything there is not as perfect as they are trying to imagine. Whatever laws may be, whatever the Constitution may be, but it cannot be violated. And he [Vladimir Zelensky – TB] violated them, even in the issue with the Constitutional Court», – assessed by Dmitry Marunich.



Ukraine: freedom of the press does not mean the right to malicious propaganda

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