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17 Nov, 2022 17:01

Zelensky cracks down on popular news outlet as repressions against media intensify in Ukraine 

The Ukrainian president has ordered the blocking of a news site which often takes a critical view of his policies
Zelensky cracks down on popular news outlet as repressions against media intensify in Ukraine 

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky says he has granted a petition demanding that the government take action against popular opposition news website Strana.ua

The petition, which calls on the authorities to ensure the outlet is completely blocked, was submitted to the president’s website in late September, and has so far garnered more than 25,500 signatures.

On Thursday, Zelensky announced that he had considered the petition and ordered the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Aleksey Danilov, to “address the issues raised in it, take necessary measures in response and inform the author of the results.”

Commenting on the petition, Zelensky accused Russia of using various forms of hybrid warfare against Ukraine, and said “the issues of protecting the domestic information space require constant attention and urgent response.” 

The author of the petition called Starana.ua “a pro-Russian” media outlet, which continues to “manipulate the opinions of Ukrainian viewers” despite being banned in the country. However, the concern is Ukrainian-owned and staffed.

The website, which was among the most viewed online publications in Ukraine last year, was officially blocked by Zelensky’s government in August 2021, with more restrictions added this February, just over a week before the launch of Moscow’s military operation in the country. At that time, the journalists claimed that they had been persecuted due to their “alternative view” on the conflict in Donbass and Zelensky’s personal animosity towards them. 

However, Starana.ua continued to remain accessible in Ukraine through several mirror sites. The outlet also began to actively develop its YouTube channel, which now has more than 600,000 subscribers.

Foreign journalists have also faced obstacles working in Ukraine. On Monday, Kiev removed accreditation from a group of media workers, including those from CNN and Sky News, accusing them of reporting from the recently-retaken city of Kherson without the necessary authorization from the Ukrainian military.