27 Aug. 2021 15:08 o’clock

The deforestation among media critical of the government in Ukraine continues. Last week the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council banned several news sites for allegedly “pro-Russian positions”. The OSCE is concerned.

On August 20, the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council (SNBO) imposed sanctions on 24 natural and legal persons, including a Rada MP and several news outlets and publishers. The SNBO reports directly to the President, making it the second most important government body in the state. The council includes defense and foreign ministers as well as representatives of the security and intelligence services.

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The following are affected by the sanctions: Igor Guschwa, editor-in-chief of the government-critical news site strana.ua and its most important employees as well as the publisher associated with the portal; Anatolij Scharij, journalist and political blogger with two and a half million subscribers on YouTube and his wife Olga, editor-in-chief of the news portal sharij.net, and their mother.

The editorial offices of the Russian newspapers were also sanctioned Moskowski Komsomolez and Vedomosti as well as twelve Russian companies and two organizations associated with the interim president of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin. Access to the relevant news pages is blocked.

The SNBO decision came about through an initiative of the Ukrainian security service SBU. He accuses the sanctioned media of “pro-Russian propaganda” and “spreading Russian narratives in the temporarily occupied territories”. “Today’s decision is a logical continuation of the measures we have already taken to protect the Ukrainian information space,” said SBU boss Ivan Bakanov.

He was pointing to the ban on three television channels in February. These were in contact with the opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk. Ukrainian authorities accuse him of acting as an agent for Russia; he has been under house arrest for months. Bakanov assured that the SBU made a clear distinction between freedom of speech and an “attack on the statehood and sovereignty of Ukraine”.

"Go to Russia" - Ukrainian President addresses the Donbass people"Go to Russia" - Ukrainian President addresses the Donbass people

Heard with 24 million page views a month strana.ua among the most popular media portals in the country. Anatoli Scharij, who like Igor Guschwa lives in exile in Europe, has been criticizing the media and government for years and is considered the most influential blogger in Ukraine. He is also the head of a party that made it into many city councils in the last local elections in the Russian-speaking regions. According to Sharij, the Ukrainian president also wants to have his accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram blocked.

Strana.ua is on the domain strana.news moved. It is also possible to bypass the blocking by VPN services. On August 25, the portal published a call to international organizations and the journalist community regarding the proceedings. The text, which is also available in English, shows:

“This is a direct violation of the Ukrainian Constitution and the Sanctions Act, which does not provide for sanctions to be imposed on Ukrainian nationals without a court order. Furthermore, under the law, a media company cannot be subject to sanctions.”

Strana.ua points out that even before the presidential decree, Internet service providers had been instructed to restrict access to the website strana.ua to lock. This is an unprecedented government attack on journalism, it said.

So far, only the OSCE has taken a clear position on the sanctions. In a statement released on August 25, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro expressed “concern about Ukraine’s practice of imposing sanctions that adversely affect the work of the media and journalists”.

Ribeiro stated:

“While Ukraine has a legitimate right to protect its national security, the authorities should find a balanced and proportionate solution to media concerns. One that promotes media pluralism, the free flow of information and diversity of opinion in accordance with relevant international issues Standards and OSCE commitments. “

Sakharova reprimands the OSCE chief's Russophobic double standards on freedom of the press in Ukraine and LatviaSakharova reprimands the OSCE chief's Russophobic double standards on freedom of the press in Ukraine and Latvia

A similar declaration can be expected from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). His office has previously been concerned about the television network shutdown 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK voiced. One is currently examining whether the new sanctions by the authorities against the blogger Anatolij Sharij and the online medium Strana.ua Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for OHCHR, told the Russian news agency on Tuesday TASS.

The President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine has also criticized the actions of the authorities:

“The extrajudicial blockade of the opposition media amounts to forfeiting the legal guarantees of press independence.”

Opposition politician Medvedchuk accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of slipping into a dictatorship. He stressed that “many heads of state in Europe remain silent while freedom of expression is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed around the world and at the center of the world’s attention”.

In fact, there was no great international response. There were only a few publications on this in the German-language media. the German wave referred to the illegality of sanctions against the media, but noted that many Ukrainians support crackdown on pro-Russia parties and their media.

more on the subject – Deutsche Welle asks: Was the honor of the SS division in Kiev a “Russian operation”?

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