Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the situation in Ukraine’s information space
We have taken note of the escalation in the Ukrainian authorities’ repressive activities in the information space, ranging from attacks on and deportation of Russian and foreign journalists from Ukraine to provocations against Russian diplomats on international media platforms.
In the past two weeks, the Kiev government has taken a series of illegal actions against Russian journalists covering developments in Ukraine.
On May 9, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) detained and deported special correspondents from the Rossiya and Channel One television networks Valentina Solovyova and Olga Yuryeva and banned them from entering Ukraine for the next three years under the pretext that they allegedly planned to use the video materials they had made to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the international community and to misinform people. It is especially alarming that the personal data of these Russian journalists have been posted on the notorious online resource Mirotvorets, which publishes, in violation of international law, the personal data of those who are branded “terrorist accomplices.”
These arbitrary actions against media representatives continue in Ukraine. SBU agents have forced their way into the offices of RIA Novosti Ukraine in Kiev and detained RIA Novosti correspondent Kirill Vyshinsky. The SBU officers explained that they were conducting an investigation of “media agencies controlled by the Russian Federation.” SBU press secretary Yelena Gitlyanskaya said that SBU personnel have established that the aggressor country was using these media outlets as part of its hybrid information war against Ukraine.
Neither do the Kiev authorities have any respect for the international media whose position does not suit Kiev. On May 2, Czech reporter Jan Rychetsky from the Parlamentni Listy online newspaper, who planned to make a report on the 2014 tragedy in Odessa, was prohibited from entering Ukraine on the grounds that the SBU had issued a five-year ban on his entry into the country [in 2015].
The Kiev government looks on indifferently as Ukrainian nationalists are mounting their pressure on the local media. On May 9, dozens of activists from the far-right organisations National Corps (Natsionalny Korpus) and National Militia (Natsionalniye Druzhiny) blocked the offices of the Inter television channel in Kiev, threatening to set them on fire. The reason for this illegal action was the channel’s announcement of plans to broadcast a Russian Victory Day concert. Many organisations and social media users criticised the Inter host who said that streets in Ukraine were renamed to honour “Nazi criminals.” The channel’s attempt to speak out against the glorification of Nazi accomplices on the eve of Victory Day provoked a predictable reaction from the Kiev radicals, who are assured of the Ukrainian security services’ protection.
Ukraine also recently made extremely provocative steps on international platforms. The latest example is an event on propaganda and fake news, which was allegedly organised with support from the UN General Assembly Committee on Information and was attended by the veterans of the so-called counterterrorism operation, who insulted and threatened the Russian representative out of public view.
We still do not see any clear reaction to these arbitrary actions in Ukraine from Western countries and the concerned international organisations. We believe that this forbearance directly threatens the future of the common European space because it is promoting the suppression of dissent in the worst totalitarian traditions. We will continue to demand an appropriate assessment of such developments by the concerned international agencies.