OSCE criticizes Ukrainian authorities due to sanctions against mass media

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media recommends Ukrainian authorities to carefully check mass media before sanctions

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro expressed her concern regarding the imposing of sanctions by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) against a number of mass media, recommending to introduce careful check of each news agency before the introduction of the restrictions against them as Ribeiro stated.

“While Ukraine has a legitimate right to protect its national security, the authorities should find a balanced and proportional solution in addressing media-related concerns, a solution that preserves media pluralism, free flow of information and diversity of opinions in line with relevant international standards and OSCE commitments,” Ribeiro said.

It is noted that media freedom is dependent on a healthy, vibrant and competitive landscape, which includes voices that provide a variety of news”.

“Any sanctions on media should be subject to careful scrutiny, accompanied by effective procedural safeguards to prevent undue interference,” Ribeiro underlined.

Ribeiro’s statement follows last week’s decisions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on the application of sanctions against several individuals and legal entities, which resulted in the banning of access to various news outlets, including, among others, Strana.ua, Vedomosti, and Moskovsky Komsomolets.

On August 20, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed sanctions against Anatoliy and Olha Shariy. Also, chief editor of Strana Ihor Huzhva was added to the sanctions list.

On August 19, the National TV and Radio broadcasting council made a decision to file the lawsuit to the court for revoking of broadcasting license for Nash TV channel for broadcasting of statements that supposedly contained “signs of the secret urge to aggressive actions”.

On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree on the imposition of sanctions against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels. According to the decree, which came into force from the moment of signing, sanctions were applied to TV channels for five years. This provides for blocking the broadcasting of all three TV channels.

Earlier, on February 20, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council on sanctions against 8 individuals and 19 legal entities. Among them are three Ukrainian citizens – the politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marchenko and the common-law wife of the owner of the NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine channels, Taras Kozak, Natalya Lavreniuk.

On February 26, journalists of the TV channels illegally closed by President Volodymyr Zelensky united and created a new TV channel – Pershiy Nezalezhniy. The founders of the new media are a group of journalists who previously worked on the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK channels. However, within an hour after the start of broadcasting, Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel was illegally turned off under pressure from the authorities.

During the last months, the world mass media, European politicians and experts published over 70,000 materials dedicated to the persecution by Ukrainian authorities of the opposition and independent TV channels.

(c) 112

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