Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday had a meeting with heads of leading Ukrainian TV channels during which he assured there is no threat to freedom of speech or media business in Ukraine.
The meeting highlighted a recent decision taken by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on February 2, 2021 to impose special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) on several TV channels, the president's press service reported.
"It has nothing to do with other TV channels. Today, there is no threat to freedom of speech or media business in Ukraine," Zelensky said.
The president noted the sanctions decision was based on proof that the funding came from Russia and the targeted TV channels cooperated with terrorist organizations.
In turn, top managers of the TV channels expressed full support for the decision, because, according to them, the TV channels subject to sanctions had long pursued anti-government policies and acted in the interests of propaganda by the Russian Federation.
Read alsoMore TV channels could be sanctioned, NSDC saysThey noted the imposed sanctions are a tool of the international fight against disinformation and have nothing to do with the issue of freedom of speech and media independence.
According to the Ukrayinska Pravda online newspaper, Zelensky met with top managers of ICTV, Inter, 1+1, and Ukraina TV channels.
Sanctions against TV channels: What is known
- On February 2, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky enacted a National Security and Defense Council decision of February 2, 2021, to impose sanctions on Member of Parliament Taras Kozak and a number of TV channels Kozak owns, such as 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK.
- After that, the channels were immediately disconnected from broadcasting.
- Commenting on the decision, Zelensky said he strongly supports the freedom of speech, but not propaganda financed by the aggressor country.
Taras Kozak's TV channels
- On October 12, 2018, MP from the Opposition Platform - For Life Party Taras Kozak announced the acquisition of the NewsOne TV channel worth UAH 41-42 million (US$1.4-1.5 million).
- In December 2018, Kozak announced the acquisition of nine companies of the 112 Ukraine group, estimating their value at UAH 72.87 million (US$2.6 million).
- In 2019, Kozak became the new and sole owner of Zik TV broadcasters.
- On October 4, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada backed an appeal to the National Security and Defense Council regarding the introduction of sanctions against companies affiliated with 112 Ukraine and NewsOne TV channels.