February 10, 2018 – Fort Russ News –
– VESTI.ukr, translated by Tom Winter –
Original title: Poroshenko’s magic wand: how political assaults on the media turn into criminal cases
KIEV. February 8 will go down in Ukrainian history as one of the blackest days for freedom of speech in Ukraine. Security and paid thugs attacked and captured the editors of “Vesti.” True, the authorities explain, it’s not about the editors of “Vesti,” it’s about the return of state property.”
There is nothing new in this. Throughout all four years of its existence, the current government is fighting with the media and all four years it declares that it does not use criminal prosecution and radical banditry to achieve political goals, instead, it is the media covering up their own violations of the law with politics. However, the chronology of the authorities’ war with the press refutes this.
The war actually began with our publication. Already in March 2014, representatives of the new government began to make political charges on Vesti, and on March 25, its hired “activists” began to block the distribution of the newspaper.
And only after political and “public” pressure failed to produce results, on May 22, 2014, the “legal attack” began: the tax authorities arranged a “mask show,” which they called a “normal planned tax audit.”
After that, the story was repeated more than once. First, political accusations and even criminal cases for “separatist propaganda” followed, then – new “tax checks,” a war for licenses, and pogroms of the editorial staff by radical thugs.
Therefore, the current attempt to present the seizure of the editorial board as legitimate actions is only a repetition of what they have already been up to.
Escalation: only in that, this time, for the first time in the practice of war by the authorities on the media, the attack of the uniformed armed men was combined with the pogrom of the editorial board by hired thugs.
Update one hour later: Vesti perseveres: today’s issue, photo from the editor’s fb page, with banner headline about freedom of speech:
The attack on the TV channel “112” began almost in parallel with the attack on Vesti. On April 3, 2014, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Viktor Zubritsky (whom he called the head of the “Contact” holding company) of organizing a “campaign to discredit the Maidan.”
And on April 25, a search was carried out at the office of the TV channel “112”. What they were looking for and what the armed men found was unknown. But as a result of the search, body armor purchased for the work of journalists during the Maidan was seized.
Following the political accusation (never proved) and an unexplained search, they followed up with pressure, through a picket of “social activists” in June 2014 and a connection to the attack on the TV and radio channel of the National Council. Since August 2014, the “112” has carried on a struggle for licenses, which continues to this day.
In parallel, the regime’s war on the TV channel Inter. On March 28, 2014, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Viktoriya Syumar accused the “Interovites” of broadcasting the storming of the Verkhovna Rada by Pravy Sektor. But this was just preliminary fire.
The real offensive unfolded after New Year’s night, January 1, 2015, when the television channel allegedly showed in the concert of artists, “a threat to national security” – Oleg Gazmanov, Valery and Joseph Kobzon.
Although in fact, their performances were cut out, and this trio appeared on the screen only during the general performance of the final song, an attack was launched against Inter, which attack involved almost all the leadership of the Popular Front, including the future NSDC secretary Alexander Turchinov.
And on January 30, 2015, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine opened a criminal investigation into the alleged forgery of the signature of the former co-owner of Inter, Igor Pluzhnikov, on the alienation of shares of the channel in 2005.
Since then, attacks against Inter through the National Council and deputies of pro-government parties have been renewed more than once. And in September 2016 they led to the burning of the TV channel’s studio by radicals.
[Link to “The police watched as the Inter burned.” ]
Political accusations against the site “Country” began almost from the first days of its creation in the winter of 2016. And already in the summer of the same year, the authorities resumed their activity in the “investigation” of cases against Igor Guzhva the editor-in-chief of the publication which were initiated against him during his time as Vesti editor-in-chief Vesti.
On March 11, 2017, the leader of the pro-government Radical Party, Oleg Lyashko, accused the “Country” of being funded by the Russian FSB, and already in June of the same year Guzhva was detained for “extortion” by the People’s Deputy of the same Radical Party. In June, a search was carried out by the Prosecutor General’s Office, and in August – after the case of “extortion” began to fall apart – the Security Service, “discovered” a flash drive in the office with state secrets.
When the case of the USB flash drive also collapsed, the authorities stepped up their previous affairs, intending to plant the country’s editor-in-chief at any cost and stop the publication. This forced Guzhva to appeal to the government of Austria with a request to grant political asylum, and prompted the editorial board to switch to an emergency mode of work.
[Link to Raids alleging “State Secrets”]
The first political charges against the TV channel also date back to the spring of 2014. On May 22, the owners of the TV channel were accused of inviting Russians to work, who discredited the Maidan during their work at TRK Ukraina. Beginning in the summer of 2015, NewsOne received regular warnings from the National Council on TV and Radio, and from May 2016 to January 2017 the National Council refused to renew the TV channel’s license, referring to allegedly shadow owners. In December 2017, radicals staged a blocking of the television channel’s office.
On March 29, 2017, Mikhail Saakashvili became the host of his own program on the channel, a program whose attitude to the regime need not be described. And on April 25, the SBU accused the ZIK journalists of organizing sabotage. On June 23, the journalists of the television channel were attacked by persons unknown, and on September 6 the police raided the office allegedly in connection with the case of ZIK owner Peter Dyminsky. One day later the National Council on TV and Radio issued a warning to the TV channel, and in November arranged an unscheduled inspection.
1 + 1
November 29, 2017 authorities banned the show in the Ukraine serial “Matchmakers.” Vladimir Zelensky, the head of the studio “95 quarter,” lodged a sharp criticism of this decision and the TV channel filed a lawsuit to cancel the ban.
In January 2017, NSDC deputy secretary Oleg Gladkovsky accused the journalist of “1 + 1” Alexander Dubinsky to the Ukraine Security Service [SBU] in the state treasury for publishing the investigation “I have to eat fish and sit in the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.”
And on February 8 it became known about the request of the National Bank of Ukraine to PrivatBank, where the names of Zelensky and Dubinsky appear, and the last one twice. “1 + 1” then published a refutation to the National Bank’s claim that they were merely verifying all PrivatBank’s clients who were related to former owners, and not just the media, indicating that the request contains the names of people who never had accounts in PrivatBank, but are related to “1 Plus 1”.
Guarantor guarantees to whom
The above list demonstrates that in all cases of critique of the regime, political accusations or claims first followed, and then comes the apparatus of “non-political” pressure – the SBU, the GPU, the National Police, the Taxation Council or the National Council on TV.
And this list demonstrates that searches, unscheduled inspections, and criminal cases are the destiny of the media, which allow themselves to publish critical materials about the authorities.
Like the attacks of radical thugs, who thus confirm their work for the regime.
Finally, it can be seen from the above that the list of media under the political pressure of the regime is constantly growing. And as the presidential elections approach, many of those who are still considered loyal today will fall into it, beaten for any word in the wrong direction. Because only complete loyalty to the guarantor guarantees the absence of cases.
Update February 10: Since posting, I have found the new-to-me word титушчи. “Paid protestors, hired thugs.” I have adjusted accordingly. –tr.