In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Selenskyj has blocked the influential opposition news website strana.ua. A corresponding decree was published on Saturday. The basis for this are sanctions imposed by the National Security Council against the editor-in-chief Ihor Huschwa, who has been living in exile in Austria since 2018, and his company. The ban was therefore based on a submission by the secret service SBU, which is subordinate to Zelenskyi.
Criticism of “extrajudicial blocking” of opposition media
In a statement, the SBU described the journalists as “pro-Russian propagandists”. Further details on the reasons were not given with reference to confidentiality. The head of the Ukrainian Union of Journalists, Serhiy Tomilenko, criticized the lockdown. “Extrajudicial blocking of opposition media is a waiver of legal guarantees of the independence of the press,” he said.
Huschwa announced that the journalistic work would continue despite the punitive measures. “That doesn’t matter. Under [Petro] Poroshenko, I was sent to prison. The site is blocked under Zelenskyj. “Poroshenko was president before Zelenskyj. The site moved to the new domain strana.news for the time being.
Also measures against bloggers in exile
Sanctions have also been imposed on the blogger couple Anatolij and Olha Scharij, who are in exile in the EU. In addition, Andrij Derkatsch, the third member of parliament, has already been added to the sanctions list. The assets of all affected Ukrainians will be frozen for three years.
Lawyers consider the sanctions adopted by Zelenskyj without a judicial basis against Ukrainian citizens since the beginning of the year to be unlawful. In February, the head of state had already closed three television channels. A fourth Russia-friendly news broadcaster is currently threatened with the withdrawal of its license. According to surveys, however, many Ukrainians support crackdown on pro-Russia parties and their media.