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4 Aug, 2022 14:14

Ukraine bans dissident journalist – media

A talk show host critical of President Vladimir Zelensky has reportedly been barred from entering the country for three years
Ukraine bans dissident journalist – media

Savik Shuster, a veteran journalist working in Ukraine, has reportedly been blacklisted by the government. Kiev has instructed border guards to prevent Shuster from entering the country, the news outlet Strana claimed on Thursday, citing a source.

The ban was imposed under wartime emergency powers and will last for at least three years, a source in the Ukrainian authorities said, according to the report.

“The instruction is not to let him in because he is a foreigner, with no further explanation,” the source said.

The claim was disputed by Shuster’s studio, while the Ukrainian authorities declined to comment on it.

Shuster, who was born in Lithuania while it was still the Soviet Union, has the citizenship of Canada, where his family moved in 1971, and Italy, the home country of his former wife. He started his journalistic career in the 1980s and worked, among other outlets, for the Munich-based branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He moved to Russia in the mid-1990s.

In the mid-2000s, Shuster left Russia for Ukraine and became a fixture of the country’s media landscape, predominantly as the host of a political talk show. His career in Ukraine stalled in 2016, when the TV personality claimed that then-president Pyotr Poroshenko was persecuting him for political reasons and moved to Italy.

In 2019, he returned from self-exile to bring his talk show to the Ukraine 24 TV channel. He provided a platform for many speakers who were critical of President Vladimir Zelensky, who infamously accused Shuster of “serving oligarchs” and destabilizing Ukraine during a Q&A session last November.

The outlet that aired Shuster’s program was banned in July amid Zelensky’s crackdown on media outlets that his government deems to be “pro-Russian” or subservient to oligarchs. The 69-year-old now once again resides in Italy.

Last month, Ukrainian media outlets reported that Zelensky had issued a secret order that revoked the Ukrainian citizenship of several people, including politician Gennady Korban, an ally of the Mayor of Dnepr – Boris Filatov. Korban was not in the country at the time and was blindsided by Zelensky’s order, as border guards refused to let him enter when he tried to return. The existence of the order was later confirmed by the government.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the reported ouster of Shuster from Ukraine fit the pattern of persecution of critical journalism and public figures under Zelensky, which she branded “Western liberal dictatorship with a Kiev snarl.”