Pro-Russian TV stations hit with sanctions, including asset seizures and cancelling of licenses

28 December 2021, 09:20 PM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has enacted a recent resolution by the National Security and Defense Council to sanction TV stations First Independent and UkrLive via an executive order that was published on the president’s official website on Dec. 28.

The sanctions are to last five years, and include asset seizure, broadcasting license annulment, and a ban from telecommunication networks.

The sanctions package targeted three Ukrainian media companies – Mediaholding Novosti, Time Media and Teleprostir.

Teleprostir and a stake in Mediaholding Novosti belong to Nestor Shufrych, a Ukrainian MP for Opposition Platform — For Life, a pro-Russian, Eurosceptic party that holds 44 out 450 seats in Verkhovna Rada.

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Mediaholding Novosti is a recently-founded company that employs some 100 former staff from 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK – three TV stations that were sanctioned by NSDC earlier this year. Mediaholding Novosti also owns Time Media, according to Opendatabot, a privately-run aggregator of publicly available information.

Shufrych called the sanctions “baseless and unwarranted.”

The TV stations said in a joint statement posted on the Telegram instant messenger that the sanctions levied against them were “yet another attempt by the government to squash dissent and use the state apparatus to eliminate independent media.”

After Shufrych acquired a stake in First Independent in September 2021, the station merged with UkrLive, with Shufrych becoming its owner by Nov. 1. Shufrych also chairs the parliamentary freedom of speech and press committee.

Taras Kozak, another Opposition Platform — For Life MP, saw three of his TV stations – 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK – sanctioned in a similar fashion on Feb. 2.

By Feb. 18 employees of these stations had founded Mediaholding Novosti.

In place of the sanctioned stations, the employees formed a new station, First Independent, which began broadcasting on Feb. 26, but which was shut down after just one hour and has since been broadcasting on YouTube.

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