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In two days more than 100 prominent Ukrainian media, organizations, journalists and experts signed a letter to Zelensky and Rada with a call for not adopting the law “On media”

Ukrainian journalists, media institutions, bloggers wrote an open letter to President Zelensky, the Members of the Parliament and European partners of Ukraine with an appeal to reject proposed legislation. In their opinion bill №2693 “On media” puts at risk freedom of speech in the country. Among signatories, there are Fakty, GORDON, Glavkom, Obozrevatel, LB.ua, Ukrainian News Agency, Hvylia, and other media outlets.

Journalists think that adoption of the law might lead to censorship in Ukraine
Journalists think that adoption of the law might lead to censorship in Ukraine
Photo: depositphotos.com

In two days more than 100 reporters, media managers and experts signed an open letter to the President of Ukraine, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, the Members of the Parliament, and European partners of Ukraine. They urged not to adopt the bill №2693 “On media”. Full list of signatories is available on GORDON and is constantly updated.

Among others, the letter is signed by SavikShusterStudio’s head Pavlo Yelizarov, Fakty’s editor-in-chief Oleksandr Shvets, founder of GORDON Dmytro Gordon and GORDON’s editor-in-chief Alesia Batsman, editor-in-chief of LB.ua Sonia Koshkina, Obozrevatel’s chief editor Orest Sokhar, ZIK TV channel’s general producer Natasha Vlaschenko, Glavkom’s manager Viktor Shlinchak and its chief editor Yuliia Lymar, politicus.com.uа founder Serhii Liamets, head of Ukrainian News Agency Denis Ivanesko, Hvylia portal editor-in-chief Yurii Romanenko, and others.

Journalists from almost all the regions of Ukraine signed the letter.

In their plea, media professionals emphasized that requirements to media were not adequately defined in the draft law and it “grants to the government authorities the power to "establish the truth”. They fear that such power might be used to control expression of political opinions, criticism of political parties, certain politicians and officials.

In addition, journalists expressed their concerns over possible widening of functions of National Council who would effectively be able to block “anyone on the internet” not only the media.

“In experts’ opinion it is unproportioned measure of restriction of the right to free expression that might be used as a tool of censorship,” – reads the open letter.

TV host Savik Shuster and Babel’s editor-in-chief Kateryna Kobernyk made special statements. Yurii Butusov, editor-in-chief of Censor. NET criticized the bill, too.

Shuster thinks that the bill is not designed to protect journalists, and he hopes that even if the Parliament would vote for it President Volodymyr Zelensky would not sign it into law.

“I am afraid that the draft law number 2693 “On media” was created by “Servant of the people” party not for the people but for protection from criticism,” – declared TV host.

The bill №2693 proposed by the Members of the Parliament from “Servant of the people” party was registered in the Verkhovna Rada in December 2019. The document is meant to regulate work of TV, radio, press, online media, streaming services and public information platforms. Among other things, the bill authors proposed to give the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine function of supervision and control over the whole media sphere.

The draft law met severe criticism from journalists and media institutions. On May 19 2020, Rada returned it to a repeated first reading.

On July 1, parliamentary humanitarian and information policy committee is going to consider a new edition of the bill, reported on her Facebook page Yevheniia Kravchuk, the Member of the Parliament from “Servant of the people” party.


President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Razumkov

Chairman of the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Mykyta Poturaev

Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of Speech of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Nestor Shufrich

Chairman of the Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze

People's Deputies of Ukraine

Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Matti Maasikas

Acting Chairman of Council of Europe Office in Ukraine Olena Lytvynenko

Address by journalist, media and public organizations, bloggers, social media users

We do not support the draft law #2693 “On media” proposed by several People's Deputies because it violates the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

We agree with negative assessments of the bill made by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Main scientific and expert department of the Verkhovna Rada. Expert assessment of the document made by Council of Europe on request from the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy for some reason was never made public.

According to international standards and the Constitution of Ukraine freedom of speech has certain boundaries but they are only permissible if necessary in democratic society. Laws relating to fundamental human rights must be precise and must create safe and enabling environment for communication and public debates as well as comply with international standards.

In experts’ opinion, ill-defined requirements to media stipulated in the draft law grant to the government authorities the power to "establish the truth”. There is no doubt that such power might be used to control expression of political opinions, criticism of political parties, certain politicians and officials. However, according to international agreements contradicting opinions must not be suppressed if they do not call for violence or discrimination.

The bill proposes the widening of power of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine beyond the boundaries defined by the Constitution of Ukraine. The Council will remain a political body. Candidates for positions selection process will become even more random.

The draft law provides for the possibility of blocking anyone on the internet even if the subject is not a media and hence effectively does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Council. It also provides for the possibility of deregistration of a media based on very widely defined reasons that could cause ban of all content of the media for an indefinite period.

In experts’ opinion, these are unproportioned measures of restriction of the right to free expression that might be used as the tools of censorship.

In our opinion, state’s effective activity for informational security must be based on the Constitution and international agreements of Ukraine, and should not justify the widening of state’s power to control content inside the country.

We support experts’ recommendations for implementation of more judicious and less intrusive government regulation of mass media functioning. We oppose strengthening of the positions of already existing media controlled by communal authorities, as well as establishing of new such entities. The return to newspapers, radio and TV financed from local budgets is a step back – not a modernization of legislation. The changes that media legislation really needs are simplification of registration procedures, increasing opportunities for self-regulation, securing journalists ability to work qualitatively without outside interference especially from the government.

Ukraine has decriminalized responsibility for defamation, insults, and in this manner has demonstrated to the world its intention to develop in democratic direction. Ukraine declared readiness to harmonize its legislation with EU legislation by implementing Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on audiovisual media services. This act has been changed in 2018 due to changes on the markets.

Implementation of new Directive 2018/1808 on audiovisual media services, which is not mentioned in the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, should be started only after evaluation of its impact on different spheres and after general analysis. European countries now are only working out its’ own mechanisms for Directive’s implementation and are going to report on the practices not later than December 2022.

For this reason, we see no grounds for the statements of the People’s Deputies, the authors of the bill #2693, about necessity of its immediate implementation that allegedly would fulfil Ukraine’s obligations stipulated in Association Agreement. We believe that the draft law should be discussed only after we have some examples of how EU countries solve difficult dilemmas of the Directive implementation.

We are convinced that initiatives for regulation in a sphere as sensitive as freedom of speech should not come exclusively from politicians who are always driven by short-term interests. Neither journalists nor industry called for the Members of the Parliament to develop additional regulation of media and reporters. We find discussion of already registered draft law to be a pure formality. In its course, the recommendations from international organizations experts were not taken into account.

We believe that the Verkhovna Rada should reject the proposed draft law. We insist on reviewing EU countries experience of implementation of Directive 2018/1808 on audiovisual media services, evaluation of its impact on different spheres of life in Ukraine and general analysis of impact, and on equitable dialogue among journalists, media and governmental bodies for legislation harmonization in favor of the further democratic development of Ukraine.

Oleksandr Artemchuk, "Stop Corruption TV" news agency

Alesia Batsman, "GORDON" internet media

Igor Bondarchuk, “Stop Corruption” NGO

Julia Valova, journalist

Liubov Vasilik, media expert at the Pylyp Orlik Institute for Democracy

Larysa Voloshina, TV presenter

Natasha Vlaschenko, journalist, TV presenter, blogger

Evgeny Gaivoronsky, journalist, blogger

Serhii Gaidai, political strategist, blogger

Dmytro Gordon, journalist, blogger

Serhii Datsyuk, philosopher, blogger

Gennady Druzenko, lawyer, publicist, volunteer, blogger

Volodymyr Dubrovsky, economist, publicist

Pavlj Yelizarov, "SavikShusterStudio", member of the Council on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Journalists under the President of Ukraine

Ekaterina Zhuk, monitoring organization Charity Tuner

Denis Ivanesko, "Ukrainian News Agency”

Ilia Kenigshtein, businessman, blogger

Oksana Kotomkina, "Conflicts and Laws" magazine

Tetiana Kotiuzhinska, National Association of Ukrainian Media

Sonya Koshkina, LB.ua internet media

Vitaly Kulik, Center for the Study of Civil Society Problems, blogger

Yuliia Lymar, Glavkom internet media

Serhii Liamets, journalist, blogger, founder of the politicus.com.ua project

Daniil Monin, Ukrainian Institute of the Future, economist

Petro Okhotin, political scientist, blogger

Andrii Pavlovsky, founder of the Pavlovsky News Telegram channel

Valery Pekar, blogger civil platform "Nova Kraiyna"

Ivan Petukhov, "National Assembly of Ukraine"

Vasyl Pechko, All-Ukrainian Association of Journalists "Fourth Power"

Alexey Pogorelov, Ukrainian Media Business Association

Yurii Romanenko, "Khvylia" internet media

Kyrylo Sazonov, political scientist

Pavlo Sebastianovych, economist, businessman, blogger

Orest Sokhar, Obozrevatel internet media

Viktor Taran, political scientist

Serhii Tomilenko, National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

Mykola Feldman, journalist

Yana Holodna, journalist, presenter

Igor Chaika, director, journalist

Mykhailo Chaplyga, Institute of Trade Union Movement Development, blogger

Oleksandr Chovgan, Association "Independent Regional Publishers of Ukraine"

Kostiantyn Shandybin, documentary filmmaker, cameraman

Oleksandr Shvets, newspaper and internet media "Fakty"

Viktor Shlinchak, Glavkom internet media

Ellina Shnurko-Tabakova, Information Security and Cyber Defense Council

Roman Shrike, journalist, blogger

Serhii Shturkhetsky, Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine

Valentyna Baitaliuk, newspaper "Dunayvetskiy visnik" (Khmelnytsky region)

Inna Bakum, newspaper "Trudova Slava" (Kyiv region)

Natalia Baliuk, "Visokiy Zamok" newspaper (Lviv)

Alina Basenko, newspaper "Baryshivskyi visnyk" (Kyiv region)

Tetiana Belimenko, ST media center (Zaporizhia region)

Elena Boreyko, "Balta.City" internet media (Odesa region)

Valentina Buzika, newspaper "Oknianskyi visnyk" (Odesa region)

Natalia Bukovskaya, newspaper "Vpered" (Odesa region)

Vasyl Burchenia, newspaper "Visti Rivnenshchini" (Rivne region)

Yana Velichko, newspaper "Kreminshyna" (Luhansk region)

Valentyn Vladimirov, Private Enterprise "Information and advertising bureau "Open communications"(Kyiv region)

Serhii Gonzur, Novyi Den newspaper (Zhytomyr region)

Vasyl Gonta, newspaper "Golos Bashtanshchyny" (Mykolaiv region)

Ivan Grydzhuk, newspaper "Narodna Volia" (Ivano-Frankivsk region)

Vitaly Dobrovolsky, newspaper "Naddnistryanska Pravda" (Odesa region)

Alla Dumbrava, newspaper "Artsyzki visti" (Odesa region)

Maksim Zabelia, newspaper "Ridne misto" (Donetsk region)

Mykola Ivantsiv, "Nad Bugom" newspaper (Lviv region)

Natalia Kalynichenko, newspaper "Bilopilshchyna" (Sumy region)

Vasyl Kashchuk, "Ruzhinska Zemlia" newspaper (Zhytomyr region)

Zhanna Kiseleva, newspaper "Kakhovska Zoria" (Kherson region)

Tetiana Koval, newspaper "Khotinski visti" (Chernivtsi region)

Alla Koren, newspaper "Chas. Ludy. Podii" (Odesa region)

Maksim Kravchenya, newspaper "Makarivski visti" (Kyiv region)

Olga Kulko, VZh agency (Chernivtsi region)

Sofia Lavrenyuk, "Rubizhanskі Novini" newspaper (Luhansk region)

Larysa Lapa, newspaper "Silske Zhyttia" (Kirovograd region)

Iryna Leskiv, newspaper "Hromada", (Lviv region)

Evgen Loginov, Vpered newspaper (Mykolaiv region)

Natalia Lozian, "Novyny Rokytnivshchyny" newspaper (Rivne region)

Iryna Lupeshchenko, newspaper "Visti Teplychchyny" (Vinnytsia region)

Valentina Lysenko, newspaper "Myronivskyi Krai" (Kyiv region)

Petro Lyash, newspaper "Narodna trybuna" (Poltava region)

Svitlana Lyashko, "Sarnenski Novyny" newspaper (Rivne region)

Viktoria Mainych, newspaper "Novynar" (Odesa region)

Larysa Melnik, "Panorama" newspaper (Kyiv region)

Mykhailo Melnyk, newspaper "Narodna tribuna" (Zhytomyr region)

Galyna Minialuk, Prapor newspaper (Zhytomyr region)

Antonina Mykhalchuk, Slovo Pravdy newspaper (Volyn region)

Nadiia Movchan, "Krai Kamianetsky" newspaper (Khmelnytsky region)

Serhii Mosha, Public Association "Editorial Office "Sumy" (Sumy region)

Vasyl Myts, newspaper "Novyi shliakh" (Khmelnytsky region)

Natalia Mukha, newspaper "Nove Zhyttia" (Volyn region)

Oleksandr Nazarenko, Association of Regional Mass Media, Nashe Slovo newspaper (Chernyhiv region)

Yaroslav Nesterenko, newspaper "Popasnyanskyi visnyk" (Luhansk region)

Iryna Obikhvost, newspaper "Silski novini" (Kharkiv region)

Yulia Ogdanska, newspaper "Novyny Svativshchyny" (Luhansk region)

Iana Revenko, newspaper "Yagotin – my city" (Kyiv region)

Mykola Saveliev, Ratusha newspaper (Lviv)

Serhii Skibchik, "Volodymyretskyi Visnyk" newspaper (Rivne region)

Pavlj Smovzh, newspaper "Trybuna pratsi" (Kyiv region)

Galyna Soroka, newspaper "Nash Krai" (Lviv region)

Viktoria Susid, newspaper "Zoria Prydniprovia" (Poltava region)

Tetiana Terzi, "Druzhba" newspaper (Odesa region)

Iryna Terletska, "Voice of Tavriya" news agency (Kherson region)

Liudmyla Titareva, "Priorylska Pravda" newspaper (Dnipropetrovsk region)

Galyna Titova, Slovo Pridnistrovia newspaper (Belgorod-Dnestrovsky)

Svitlana Tomash, "Novyny Gorodnyanshchyny" newspaper (Chernyhiv region)

Maryna Uliankina, newspaper "Tatarbunarskiy visnik" (Odesa region)

Viktor Urlapov, "Peremoga" newspaper (Kyiv region)

Tetiana Fabrikova, newspaper "Ridne Prybuzhia" (Mykolaiv region)

Olena Foksha, "Promin" (Mykolaiv region)

Olga Tsap, TRK "Pershy Zakhidny" (Lviv)

Iryna Chunikhina, "Dolynski Novyny" newspaper (Kirovograd region)

Tetiana Chernyshova, newspaper "Maiak" (Kharkiv region)

Zinovii Shturnak, "Zlagoda" newspaper (Ivano-Frankivsk region)

Andrii Shchekun, newspaper "Krymska svitlytsia" (Kyiv)

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