From the first days of February Ukrainian TV channel NASH has been picketed by organizations of Ukrainian nationalists. They demand Ukrainian government to close the TV channel, which they consider pro-Russian. During the picket, they obstructed the work of journalists and staff of the channel. Nationalists have repeatedly attacked the channel’s journalists. In Ukraine, there is a difficult situation with freedom of speech and solve rate of cases related to the attack on media workers.
In Ukraine in 2021, there were 70 incidents of the use of force against journalists, in which one hundred employees of the Ukrainian media were injured. These are the data from the monitoring of the Index of Physical Security of Journalists, said Sergei Tomilenko, the Head of the National Union of Journalists on 1st February on Facebook.
The practice of extrajudicial closure of the media in Ukraine is very common. By the decision by the National Security and Defence Council three other TV channels accused by nationalists of pro-Russian propaganda were closed. After the closure of the TV channels, not one of the episodes based on which they were closed was procedurally proven.
On Monday, Max Nazarov, the presenter of NASH TV channel, said that the documents based on which the decision to close the channel would be made had already been delivered to the National Security and Defence Council.
Our sources in the highest echelons of the Ukrainian government confirm this information: last Friday, a meeting was held in the office of the President of Ukraine, which was attended by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Alexei Danilov and employees of the President’s Office. The first person instructed to find the facts or conditions to close the TV channel NASH in the near future. It should be noted that the channel does not belong to any of the oligarchs or politicians. From the summer of 2021, the channel is owned by the labour collective.
President Emeritas Colin Stevens of the Brussels Press Club stated that “for us the principle of freedom of speech is crucial. The practice of extrajudicial closure of the media is not acceptable in Europe. If any information resource violates the law, it must be proven in court. There must be legal procedures. Otherwise, it turns out that any media with a position that the government does not agree with can be closed. Such a situation can make the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky non-handshakable, since he is the guarantor of the constitution. And the right to freedom of expression is one of the crucial rights in any European constitution”.
It is worth noting that the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk stated that the National Security and Defense Council has not yet considered imposing sanctions against the NASH TV channel, under whose office a protest was held last week.
The events surrounding the NASH TV channel may be connected with possible early parliamentary elections. After all, after its “possible” closure, the south-eastern flank will remain without media coverage, which will give the ruling party additional chances to gain more votes.