How Censorship Works in Ukraine

Source: Kyiv Post – By Viktoria Sumar

Journalists hold a poster which says “Stop Censorship!” in front of the Presidential Administration’s main entrance during a protest in central Kyiv held on June 6. The journalists gathered to mark their professional holiday, Day of Journalists. (Yaroslav Debelyi)

Nowadays, the practice of media censorship is more refined.

It is amazing how a favorite child of Josef Goebbels has taken root in Ukraine’s fertile soil.

Having lived through the period of strict censorship from 1999-2004, the country could not get rid of this disease affecting primarily people’s minds and consciousness.

Censorship always ends the same way – the collapse of regimes.The consequences, such as what happened in Ukraine in late 2004, have not led to the recognition about the futility of such actions.

Desire to control everything and everyone takes precedence over this simple realization: In today’s global world, controlling information is completely pointless.

Censorship in Ukraine has its own set of features.Since the beginning of the 2000s, it was improved and became more subtle.

Censorship in Ukraine has its own set of features.Since the beginning of the 2000s, it was improved and became more subtle.

– Viktoria Siumar is head of the Institute for Mass Information in Ukraine.

The goals, however, remain the same: to control the information space and to limit the spread of criticism of government.

The way of censorship is practiced has also changed. The Presidential Administration used to write and issue “temniki,” or instructions, to media about how and what stories to cover, whom to interview or not interview. Nowadays, the practice is more refined.

This task is accomplished working in consultation in closed meetings between top media managers and public officials.

Media owners are the main target. They, in turn, exert direct pressure on their respective editorial boards.

The absence of a normal and competitive media market remains a problem. Foreign investors in Ukrainian media are rare in Ukraine. Most who tried have sold their assets to domestic oligarchs.

The new owners view the media they own as a business.For them, it has always been a tool of influence.It is easier for the owner of a television channel to get along with the prime minister than any ordinary millionaire.

As a result, we have a situation where major media owners in the country are people who are constantly interacting with the government, or belong to one political team, or are in need of economic preferences, or are even trying to arrange for their own safety.

These individuals are known to all.

They include State Security Service head Valeriy Khoroshkovsky (owner of Inter channel), and his fellow billionaires Ihor Kolomoisky (channel 1 +1), Victor Pinchuk (channels STB, ICTV and Novy Kanal TV; and daily newspaper Fakty i Kommentarii), Rinat Akhmetov (TRK Ukraine TV, the daily Segodnya newspaper), and PetroPoroshenko (Channel 5, Korrespondent magazine and news portal).

While information resources owned by journalists themselves are few, they provide the main islands of liberty.

Examples are the weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnya and the Internet news portal Ukrainska Pravda.

Loyalty pledging is not uncommon when bartering with government officials for the return of value-added tax refunds.

The powers that be are still very sensitive to criticism, and therefore are very sensitive to all sorts of independent publications.

It is always helpful to bring a handful of newspaper clippings to help out public officials, but sometimes they can disrupt natural gas and oil negotiations involving the owner of the publication.

In this case, the owner who attaches a low value to his or her media resource fires employees and condemns the publication to a short murky future. The goal is clear – to create a positive information environment for the government.

The authorities have yet to come to the realization that social energy drives criticism, and public debate is necessary for development and growth. But media owners don’t have the time or desire to come to this realization.

Therefore, the authorities continue to refine their media control tactics.

Source: Kyiv Post

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Posted in Corporate Censorship, Human Rights
One comment on “How Censorship Works in Ukraine

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