Feb 4, 2021

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met with a group of ambassadors from the Group of Seven (G7) and the European Union to defend his government’s decision to shut several television channels controlled by a Russia-linked magnate.


Zelenskyy told the group in Kyiv on February 3 that the decision to block the 112, NewsOne, and ZIK channels was justified by the need to ‘fight against the danger of Russian aggression in the information arena.’


The now-blocked channels are believed to belong to Viktor Medvedchuk, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. Medvedchuk supports the Opposition Platform for Life, a political party that is popular in Ukraine’s southeast and holds a minority in the Ukrainian parliament.


‘Sanctions against the media are always a difficult decision for any government except an authoritarian one. This decision was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but one that had been in the works, based on information over a long time from many Ukrainian government agencies. This is by no means an attack on freedom of speech, this is a well-founded decision to protect national security,’ Zelenskyy said.

According to Zelenskyy, the sanctioned TV channels have long been actively used for disinformation campaigns in Ukraine aimed at undermining reforms and Ukraine’s course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration.”


In addition, the US Mission to the OSCE stated, “Moscow would have you believe that media freedom means it is acceptable to manipulate the media in another sovereign country. Let me be clear: Media freedom does not include the right to spread malicious propaganda and disinformation. We support Ukraine’s decision to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by countering Russia’s blatant and malign influence.


The media entities that Russia referred to are controlled by Victor Medvedchuk, who has direct personal ties to Vladimir Putin and was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 for actions that threatened the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. 


He fled to Russia for most of the next five years to escape accountability. Medvedchuk has a long history of using media entities to promote pro-Kremlin positions that undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Additional media outlets shut down by Ukraine are well-known tools of Russian propaganda aimed at destabilizing Ukraine.”