Zelensky's government restricts free press in Ukraine amid war with Russia: report

Journalists and watchdog groups have slammed Ukrainian federal agencies for allegedly spying on reporters, applying political pressure on outlets, and otherwise influencing the type of coverage being released to the public as the nation's war with Russia continues.

While President Volodymyr Zelensky has not publicly advocated for further restrictions than what are necessary, and condemned those who spied on reporters, the New York Times has reported that outlets continue to face calls to avoid citing particular officials allegedly deemed "undesirable" in the government's quest to quash negative coverage. All the while, journalists have managed to continue reporting and exposing what they can behind the scenes in Kyiv.

According to the Times, following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Zelensky's government merged what had been a selection of diverse television news stations into one state-controlled outfit known as TV Marathon, with each outlet producing content under that umbrella. Opposition outlets were not invited, and before long, the channel devolved into a 24/7 cycle of positivity, even as Ukrainian forces suffered on the battlefield. Watchdog group Detector Media found that between January and April, none of the outlets helping produce content brought opposition party members on air to share their views.

A report compiled by the US State Department in 2023 found that the creation of TV Marathon "enabled an unprecedented level of control over primetime television news." It noted that Ukraine had "banned, blocked, or sanctioned media outlets and individual journalists deemed a threat to national security or who expressed positions authorities believed undermined the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," and that, "some speakers who were critical of the government were also blacklisted from government-directed news programming."

"Investigative journalists critical of the government," it added, "were sometimes targeted by negative social media campaigns, sometimes via government-friendly channels." As a result, many took to "self-censorship."


Image: Title: zelensky UN General Assembly speech
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