Under martial law, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has signed an order requiring the consolidation of all national television channels onto a single platform, claiming the significance of a “united information policy.“
According to Reuters, this decision comes as Ukraine is now in a state of emergency as a result of Russia’s ongoing military assault on the country.
“Ukrainian privately owned media channels have hitherto continued to operate since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24,” the outlet reported, adding that it wasn’t yet known when this rule would start to be enforced.
UA:First, UA:Culture, UA:Regional, and Rada TV are the four primary public broadcasting networks in Ukraine.
The action comes in the wake of significant shifts in the media environment as a result of Russia’s continuous invasion. Many countries have restricted Russian state-affiliated news organizations including Russia Today and Sputnik.
President Zelensky canceled the licenses of a few pro-Russian channels, including ZIK, NewsOne, and 112 Ukraine, in February 2021.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s pro-Western president, has issued decrees prohibiting pro-Russian media groups from operating. The broadcasters’ licenses were canceled, and they will be unable to broadcast for the next five years.
After pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a Ukrainian security council decision imposing five-year sanctions on eight media and TV businesses, three pro-Russian TV channels went off the air in Kyiv.
ZIK, NewsOne, and 112 Ukraine were among the Kyiv stations affected.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, their broadcasts were only available Tuesday night via the video hosting platform YouTube.
It named the channels’ owner as Taras Kozak, a legislator and member of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform for Life, and quoted him as saying that Zelenskiy’s move was “disastrous.” and “an act of blatant censorship.“
Kozak’s assets, trading operations, and copyright transfer are all restricted for five years, according to a decree appendix.
In Ukraine, the channels are seen as pro-Russian messengers stationed in both the country’s war-torn east and south.
Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman Iulia Mendel said: “These media have become one of the tools of war against Ukraine, so they are blocked in order to protect national security,” (editor’s note: that sounds familiar) adding that evidence had emerged of their being funded from Russia.
In his main directive, which implements decisions agreed by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council on Tuesday, Zelenskiy stated that Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry would tell the European Union and the US “about the application of sanctions” on media outlets.The decree’s appendices ordered the freezing of TV channel and communication firm assets, as well as the prohibition of their usage of radio frequencies within Ukraine and the termination of possible rebroadcast services.
The three Kyiv outlets that were affected released a unified statement, condemning the restrictions as a “witch hunt.”
According to TASS, Artem Marchevsky, the general producer of 112 Ukraine, said the channels supported “approximately 1,500 employment.”“Without any court ruling, any inquiry, and without any persuasive justification at all,” Marchevsky claimed, Ukrainian authorities had made the decisions.Viktor Medvedchuk, a key opposition member aligned with Kozak, also criticized the penalties imposed.
The head of the Ukrainian Union of Journalists, Nikolay Tomilenko, said: “The deprivation of access to Ukrainian media for an audience of millions without a court … is an attack on freedom of expression.”
In eastern Ukraine, where separatists and government forces have clashed since April 2014, claiming 14,000 lives amid tense relations between Kyiv and Moscow, Russian influence remains entrenched. President Zelenskiy, a former comedian and actor, was elected in 2019 on a platform of peace. Last July, both parties agreed to a ceasefire under European mediation.
Kyiv proposed in November that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) send 1,500 police officers to the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine as a prelude to holding elections there.