European journalists slam Ukraine’s Zelensky for banning independent media outlet Strana & threatening ‘press freedom’
Europe’s largest organization representing journalists and reporters has panned a decision by Ukrainian authorities to attempt to shutter one of the country’s leading independent online news outlets on ‘national security’ grounds.
In a statement issued on Friday, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) blasted the decision to block access to Strana.ua, which bills itself as among the three most influential publications in the country. The order, announced last week and signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, saw the website taken offline.
According to the EFJ, “Strana.ua is one of the few remaining opposition media in Ukraine.” The group’s General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez added that, “in a democratic country, media-related concerns must be addressed in a legal way that also ensures media pluralism. We call on the Ukrainian authorities to find better, judicial solutions to alleged national security threats.”Also on rt.com Ukraine shuts down leading independent news site Strana as part of new crackdown on journalists, judges & opposition politicians
In this case, however, no court signed off on the decision, which was given the green light by the country’s National Security and Defense Council. The body’s secretary, Alexey Danilov, said the move was based on “documents” held by the country’s SBU security agency, the successor to the Soviet KGB. However, he refused to disclose the basis of the allegations, saying only that editor Igor Guzhva and his staff are “engaged in illegal activities on the territory of our country.”
Guzhva fled to Austria in 2018 and was later granted asylum. Strana has condemned the decision to hit “the largest opposition publication in Ukraine with sanctions,” and it has since moved to a new domain at Strana.news.
Other international rights groups have also panned the attempt to shut down the outlet. On Wednesday, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro said that “while Ukraine has a legitimate right to protect its national security, the authorities should find a balanced and proportional solution in addressing media related concerns, a solution that preserves media pluralism, free flow of information and diversity of opinions in line with relevant international standards.”Also on rt.com Ukraine condemned for crackdown on media freedom by OSCE after leading news organisation 'Strana' banned by Zelensky government
“Media freedom is dependent on a healthy, vibrant and competitive landscape, which includes voices that provide a variety of news,” Ribeiro added. “Any sanctions on media should be subject to careful scrutiny, accompanied by effective procedural safeguards to prevent undue interference.”
At the same time, Russian news sites including Vedomosti and Moskovskiy Komsomolets were blocked by Kiev, adding the news groups to the long list of content banned from the neighboring nation.
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