The Kiev Junta’s Imposition of Sanctions on the “112” and “NewsOne” TV Channels Violates the Constitution of Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On Thursday, October 4th, the Verkhovna Rada voted to submit draft resolution No. 9157 “On approval of recommendations to introduce personal special economic sanctions and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”, which stipulates the imposition of sanctions on the TV channels 112 Ukraine and NewsOne“, for the consideration of the National Security and Defense Council.

The resolution was supported by 229 deputies. Among the authors of the resolution there are the former journalists Mustafa Nayyem, Egor Sobolev, Svetlana Zalishchuk, Tetiana Chornovol, and Sergey Vysotsky.

In the draft of the resolution seven companies are named, against which it is proposed to impose sanctions on: “Ariadna TV”, “Noviy Format TV”, “TV Vybor”, “112 TV broadcasting Company”, “Lider TV”, “Partner TV”, and “Novosti 24 hours. From these, six companies are associated with the TV channel “112 Ukraine”, and “Novosti 24 hours” is associated with “NewsOne”.

The Resolution stipulates the following sanctions: the freezing of assets, the cancellation or suspension of licences, the prohibition of the use of the radio frequencies of Ukraine, and the prohibition of broadcasting technologies, rights to objects of intellectual property, and others.

If the National Security and Defense Council supports deputies, then the “NewsOne” and “112” TV channels can disappear from the TV screens of Ukrainians.

At the same time, the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada and the possible decision of the National Security and Defense Council violates not only the Constitution of Ukraine, but also a number of international obligations that were assumed by Ukraine.

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Thus, article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees the right to freedom of speech and to freely distribute information. Article 15 of the Constitution forbids censorship.

The right to freedom of thought and speech and to free expression of views and belief is enshrined in Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Ukraine.

In addition, according to the Helsinki declaration of 1975, Ukraine undertook to respect freedom of speech and the free and wide circulation of all forms of information. Similar recommendations are contained in the PACE resolution “Indicators for media in a democracy” and the Declarations of the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe on the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists from April 30th, 2014.

As a reminder, on August 29th deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Andrey Portnov stated that the owner of “NewsOne” Evgeny Murayev had handed over the TV channel to his management for a period of three years. After that the TV channel was subjected to systematic attacks by the authorities. On August 30th the National Council declared a warning to the TV channel allegedly for broadcasting programs made after August 1st, 1991 [which is against the Ukrainian language quota laws imposed by the junta – ed]. The Chairmen of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko and People’s Front factions stated that “NewsOne” “broadcasts the agenda of the Kremlin via representatives of the fifth column” and urged the Prosecutor-General’s Office and Security Service to carry out an investigation into “pro-Russian” TV channels, which they call “vata-TV”.

On September 17th the Security Service of Ukraine sent a letter to the National Council stating that it regards a number of statements made by the host of the “NewsOne” TV channel as “cliches of Russian propaganda” that “may contain signs of a hidden appeal to commit aggressive actions”. The Security Service classified such statements as “party of war”, “party of peace”, and “Russia protects its interests”. The SBU also stated that it heard on the airwaves the word “fratricidal war”, “mechanism of splitting Orthodoxy”, and “the world doesn’t recognise Russia as an aggressor”, which aim to introduce “destructive moods” in society. On September 20th the National Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting appointed an unscheduled on-site inspection of the “NewsOne” TV channel.

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On September 17th, during a live broadcast from outside the building of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine, which was being stormed by representatives of right-wing radical groups, the journalist of the “NewsOne” TV channel Darina Bilera was assaulted. The police initiated a criminal case only after the incident received a public response and caught the attention of the representative of the OSCE on freedom of the media Harlem Desir, who on Twitter urged the authorities of Ukraine to fully investigate this incident.

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