Statement of former ZIK journalists, Media Movement and Ukrainian media organizations
Taras Kozak – close ally and business partner of one of the leaders of the political party "Opposition platform – For life" (OPFL) Victor Medvedchuk – has officially become an owner of ZIK TV channel, news agency and web-site. Early in a year, Mr. Kozak has bought another two news channels: "112 Ukraine" and NewsOne. Combined with "Inter", controlled by another founders of pro-Russian "Opposition platform – For life" political party, these broadcasters form a powerful media resource, and their owners discuss possibility to purchase even more media assets.
Victor Medvedchuk is well known for consistently promoting Russian interest in Ukraine Among other tools, for this he uses censorship and manipulation of the media resources under his control, which has been confirmed by numerous monitorings run by independent media watchdogs.
Mr. Medvedchuk and his political force do not hide an intention to bring Ukraine back to the area of Russian political and economic influence. For this, his media resource is used as an instrument to pressure Ukrainian government and to shape supportive public opinion. Mr. Medvedchuk`s image as a "peacemaker" and irreplaceable negotiator between Ukraine and Russia is to a large extent created by the media that are either loyal to his political force – "Opposition platform – For life" (OPFL) – or controlled by its founders. Systematic monitoring by Detector Media NGO confirm shows of 112 Ukraine and NewsOne almost word-by-word repeating propagandistic messages broadcasted by Russian federal media.
From the very first days of change of the owner, his influence on ZIK was obvious. Tetiana Danilenko`s show that criticized Mr. Medvedchuk has been taken off air and deleted from ZIK`s official YouTube channel. Journalists reported introduction of so called "stop lists" of those banned to be invited to the programs. OPFL representatives became key commenters of all the important events. Channel broadcasts fake sociological research by non-existing polling firms. To channel`s lineup were added programs featuring OPFL candidates Nestor Shufrich and Illya Kiva, political strategist Vasyl Apasov and proxy presidential candidate Yulia Lytvynenko as show leaders and main protagonists at the same time. This alone violates article 59 of the Law on TV and Radiobroadcasting, which obliges channels to provide objective information to their audience. New management puts pressure on journalists and demands reframing of informational messages so they are consistent with those of Russian propaganda.
We consider this the beginning of censorship on TV channel ("prevention to free flow of information... in any other form" article 24 of the Law of Ukraine on information).
ZIK journalists are well familiar with Mr. Medvedchuk`s record of introducing total censorship of media under his control in early 2000-ies. Together with media experts and journalist colleagues, they observed program policy of 112 Ukraine and NewsOne, which was focused during the presidential campaign on promotion of interest of one political force – OPFL.
For the above reasons, ZIK show presenters and journalists decided to quit after change of the ownership. This is the biggest number of people who willingly left their jobs in the history of Ukrainian media.
We, the journalists who willingly left Medvedchuk`s media group, and participants of the MediaMovement, non-government organizations supporting this statement express our protest against crawling Russian occupation of the Ukrainian media space.
We call on the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy to finally define his position on information intervention of Russia to the Ukranian media space and introduction of censorship on the media resources controlled by pro-Russian politicians. We call on the president and his team – and in particular, future members of parliament, – to introduce effective mechanisms that would demonopolize TV space, guarantee transparency of financing, editorial independence and protection from owners` dictate. We also call them to support independent public broadcaster.
We call on National council on TV and Radio Broadcasting to thoroughly control compliance of content of ZIK, NewsOne and 112Ukraine TV channel with Ukrainian legislation and conditions under which their broadcasting licenses have been issued.
We call on Security Service of Ukraine to answer if money originating from the country-aggressor were used to purchase media assets, posing a potential threat to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Shall this confirm, we demand to take all the necessary measures to stop this process.
We call on public opinion leaders – politicians, civic activists, experts, artists – to avoid participation in programs of the media controlled by Victor Medvedchuk.
We call on Ukrainian journalists to unite against transformation of the Ukrainian media to the field offices of Kremlin propagandistic machine.
We believe that Ukrainian journalists, regardless of their views and beliefs, will not become a tool in the hands of politicians whose goal is to eliminate Ukraine`s existence.
Ex-employees of ZIK
Vakhtang Kipiani, TV presenter of the "Historical Truth" program;
Bohdan Mashai, TV presenter;
Leila Mamedova, TV presenter;
Yulia Poholyuk, journalist;
Alina Mazur, editor-in-chief;
Tetyana Danylenko, TV presenter;
Olga Movchan, head of the department of production of own television programs;
Tetyana Vergeles, editor-in-chief of the ZIK news agency, and creative team of the editorial staff;
Ksenia Smirnova, TV presenter;
Oksana Loik, journalist;
Kyrylo Dudka, cameraman;
Hanna Bechke, editor of the regional department;
Evgeniya Taganovych, news presenter;
Yevhen Tereshchenko, editor-in-chief;
Andriana Kucher, TV presenter;
Natalya Shostak, editor;
Roman Nedzelsky, editor-in-chief of the news service;
Olena Loskun, journalist;
Iryna Kovalenko, journalist;
Maryam El Hassan Ali, journalist;
Oleksandra Gutnik, second editor;
Anastasiya Usenko, journalist;
Viktoria Kovtsun, journalist;
Anton Kotsukon, journalist;
Mykhailo Kukin, editor-in-chief;
Iryna Shynkar, second editor;
Kovalyuk Roman, cameraman;
Tetyana Kuzminichuk, journalist;
Petro Kolodiy, director;
Bohdan Ilchishin, director;
Alexander Tatochin, editor-in-chief;
Tetyana Kuzminichuk, journalist;
Daria Denis, journalist;
Vladislav Maystruk, producer;
Ostap Gavrylyuk, sound engineer;
Yuriy Vitruk, director of installation;
Volodymyr Molodiy, journalist;
Iryna Glavatskaya, editor-in-chief;
Natalia Borska, editor-in-chief of projects;
Olena Klymenko, second editor;
Andriy Snizhko, an analyst;
Victoria Maidanyk, editor-in-chief of the information and analytical department;
Pavlo Kruglyakovsky, TV presenter;
Olena Bondarenko, editor;
Andriy Rolyuk, cameraman;
Volodymyr Rolyuk, cameraman;
Olga Kisil, editor-in-chief, Lviv;
Vira Labich, journalist;
Burbil Hanna, journalist;
Iryna Glavatskaya, editor;
Kostiantyn Tchaikovsky, screenwriter;
Yulia Maleyeva, journalist;
Antoniuk Basil, TV presenter;
Pavlo Sokolovsky, sound engineer;
Natalia Pyrtyk, journalist;
Anna Martyshchuk, journalist;
Letyagina Christina, linear producer;
Anna Bezugla, journalist;
Tetyana Gavrylyuk, journalist;
Oksana Vysochanska, editor-in-chief;
Natalia Lazarovych, journalist;
Victoria Matskovych, journalist;
Volodymyr Karpenko, cameraman;
Julia Bundz, journalist;
Nazar Melnyk, cameraman;
Viktoria Kozub, journalist;
Statement supported by:
"Media for a Conscious Choice" Media Movement
Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition
Independent Media Council
NGO Institute of Mass Information
NGO Detector Media
NGO Internews Ukraine
NGO Center for Democracy and Rule of Law
Institute for the Development of Regional Press
Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy
Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation
NGO Committee of Voters of Ukraine
NGO "Ecology – Law – Person"
"Ukrinform" Information Agency
NGO Ukrainian Crisis Media Center
NGO "Together Against Corruption"
Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health
Commitee of The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine
"Studio Toloka", NGO
Journalists and civil activists:
Oksana Shtefanio (Uzhgorod)
Petro Parypa (Ivano-Frankivsk)