On Tuesday, 2 February, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree enacting a decision of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC) on the application of sanctions against MP Taras Kozak and TV channels of the Novyny media holding (112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK). These media outlets are directly related to pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who does not recognise Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and has a close personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sanctions were imposed for a period of five years. The restrictive measures include blocking of assets, preventing the withdrawal of capital from Ukraine, suspension of economic and financial obligations, revocation or suspension of licenses, prohibition of technology transfer, intellectual property rights, and the like.

After this decision was made, all platforms one by one began to stop broadcasting these TV channels.

Kozak called the NSDC’s actions “political reprisal on the part of Zelensky.”

“The actions of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine against TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK, as well as the sanctions imposed on me personally, are illegal, and this is another obvious act of censorship of TV channels,” Kozak said.

In his opinion, the Head of State seems to be furious over the fall in the rating of his political force, Servant of the People.

Chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) Sergiy Tomilenko called the sanctions against TV channels “an emergency situation and an attack on freedom of speech.”

He drew attention to the fact that the media outlets were blocked without a court decision.

At the same time, Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, called the NSDC decision a natural response to “daily information and propaganda attacks on the state.”

“This is a completely transparent decision. Motivated, factual. These TV channels are quite actively and often openly used as tools of foreign propaganda in Ukraine. Unfortunately, they no longer work the way it should be with ordinary television broadcasters,” Podoliak stressed.

According to him, there is also evidence of strange sources of funding for these TV channels. In addition, the transfer of ownership to companies that have licenses is a matter of concern.

According to the spokesperson of the President of Ukraine, Iuliia Mendel, the imposition of sanctions against Taras Kozak took place in accordance with the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of 2018 and the proposals of the Security Service of Ukraine.

At the same time, she stressed that the blocking of TV channels from Viktor Medvedchuk’s pool has nothing to do with an attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine, as these media outlets have long forgotten what journalistic standards, fact-checking or coverage of at least two points of view are.

“Instead, they have turned into a propaganda tool that is used in the interests of the aggressor state, which violated the sovereignty and state borders of Ukraine. Funding for these channels from Russia has already been confirmed. These media have become one of the tools of war against Ukraine; therefore they were blocked in order to protect national security,” Mendel said.

At the same time, she called on broadcasters in Ukraine to abide by the law, ethical rules and journalistic standards, not to cooperate with the aggressor state, and to avoid funding and imposition of editorial policies by the Kremlin.

Bohdan Marusyak

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