Zelensky's sanctions against Medvedchuk's TV channels: why were they introduced and Kozak's reaction

Viktor Medvedchuk. Photo: UNIAN

Viktor Medvedchuk. Photo: UNIAN

On the evening of February 2, 2021, President Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of February 2, 2021 for sanctions against people's deputy Taras Kozak and Viktor Medvedchuk's TV channels—112 Ukraine, NewsOne, ZIK.

Sanctions details

The sanctions will be in effect for five years. Sanctions against Kozak include, among other things, blocking assets, limiting trading operations, preventing the withdrawal of capital from Ukraine. The sanctions of the related companies actually mean that TV channels 112, ZIK, and NewsOne should stop broadcasting. Facebook users are reporting that TV channels have stopped working.

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NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that during the meeting 17 out of 19 NSDC members voted for this decision (one abstained, another was on a business trip). According to Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukraininan Truth) sources, Dmytro Razumkov abstained from voting.

According to ZN.UA sources in the SBU and the President's Office, the reason for the imposition of sanctions against Taras Kozak and related legal entities was the investigation conducted by the special services of Ukraine. It was found that schemes with the coal supply from the occupied territories contribute to the financing of terrorism. That is, the sanctioned person is subject to the law "On Preventing and Countering the Legalization (Laundering) of Criminally Obtained Incomes, Terrorist Financing, and the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction".

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According to the Ukrayinska Pravda, the NSDC decision was not spontaneous. It was prepared for a long time and was kept in complete secret. The members of the National Security and Defense Council interviewed by the Ukrayinska Pravda claim that the law allows the imposition of sanctions against the citizens of Ukraine. It will be possible to appeal against them, but this will be a rather problematic procedure.

Kozak’s reaction

Taras Kozak explained this decision by the obvious fact of censorship regarding the channels. He called the NSDC decision illegal and called on the authorities to stop pressure on the media.

"I regard such NSDC actions as a political reprisal by President Zelensky. The President is simply furious because of the collapse of the rating of his political force, Servant of the People is already on the 4th place in the list, while the Opposition Platform—For Life, which I represent, has been leading the rating of Ukrainians' leanings for a long time," said Kozak.

In the statement of TV channels 112, ZIK, and NewsOne it is reported that they regard the decision on the sanctions as "a political reprisal against dissenting mass media."

"We believe that the government, that has not the slightest reason to talk about successes, leaves only obsequious channels on the air that will lie to the people of Ukraine about "unprecedented successes," the statement says.

Context. In response to the idea of holding a teleconference between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in 2019, Zelensky announced the possibility of imposing sanctions on TV channels that are associated with Viktor Medvedchuk. At the same time, the SBU proposed to introduce sanctions "to prevent the implementation of an anti-Ukrainian information campaign by the aggressor country." Then Zelensky announced "a headline story that will end very badly."


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