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Ukrainian TV drops show co-hosted with Russian broadcaster over ‘death threats’ & govt pressure

Ukrainian TV drops show co-hosted with Russian broadcaster over ‘death threats’ & govt pressure
A Ukrainian broadcaster abruptly halted work on a new televised ‘politics-free’ discussion with Russia’s flagship channel, aimed at giving a say to viewers from diverse sides, citing “death threats” and pressure on journalists.

NewsOne and Russia’s most-watched broadcaster Rossiya 1, were eagerly anticipating their co-hosted television show called ‘We need to talk.’ Scheduled to go on air on July 12, it was meant to give a voice to people from each country without having to touch upon divisive political issues.

However, on Monday NewsOne said it had to cancel its participation in the joint project on the back of a tremendous smear campaign that “a number of political parties” had launched ahead of the show. There have been rallies outside the channel’s premises as well as “unambiguous death threats against our journalists and their close relatives,” it said.

Shortly before the statement went public, it was reported that dozens of people had picketed the Ukrainian channel’s headquarters, with some holding anti-Russia banners or chanting insulting slogans.

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NewsOne concluded that while “it wants peace in Ukraine,” this isn’t good news “to some forces representing the party of war.”

That aside, the idea of letting Ukrainians talk to people on the other side of the border didn’t sit well with the Kiev government. President Volodymyr Zelensky, himself a native Russian speaker, called it “a cheap but dangerous PR stunt” designed to divide Ukrainians into two camps.

Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, took aim at the channel, calling on other government bodies to sanction it for helping “the aggressor country” run what it said was “an anti-Ukrainian propaganda campaign.” Later in the day, the SBU teamed up with the Prosecutor General’s office to investigate alleged “state treason” and interrogate NewsOne’s management. 

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Zelensky says he’s ready for talks with Russia and get close to NATO

Meanwhile, Rossiya 1 said it has “no reason to cancel the broadcast.” However, it chose not to comment on the announcement by the Ukrainian channel.

NewsOne has already faced attacks by far-right radicals over the years. Their reporters were viciously attacked and abused by radical nationalists while covering public events in the capital and beyond.

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