On the eve of his meeting with US President Joe Biden on September 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pulled the plug on the opposition news outlet Strana.ua and imposed sanctions on its editor-in-chief. This is not the first time Zelensky has cracked down on opposition media. Earlier this year Zelenksy banned three of his country’s television news stations—NewsOne, 112 and ZIK—accusing them of peddling “Kremlin-funded propaganda.”? A veteran of the broadcast media himself [he was previously a comedian], Zelensky’s action may perhaps be seen at first glance as largely symbolic.? It is, in fact, both inflammatory and short-sighted.
First, it should be noted that the three channels are ultimately owned by one Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is widely regarded as Moscow’s unofficial ambassador to Ukraine.? This was most likely a factor in Zelensky’s decision; Medvedchuk is personally critical of Zelensky and his administration, but, that said2021 … another year marked by COVID-19 pandemic, the media outlets have avoided ad hominem attacks and concentrated on three main topics: the designation of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine as a “civil war”; the support of a majority of citizens of Crimea for the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in 2014; and the strong advocacy of restored relations and trade between Ukraine and Russia.RELATED: Home working
The first two of those themes are demonstrably true and the third is certainly defensible as mutually beneficial in the long term to Ukraine and Russia.? This may perhaps have motivated one of Zelensky’s key alliesand asked that gatherings for rituals be limited to immediate family members and close relatives., the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) Dmitry Razumkov, to oppose the president’s actions against the networks, saying that “sanctioning television networks is badand have been supplied not only to domestic populations, no matter who they belong to.”