Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a significant media regulation bill earlier this week that some critics claim could lead to extreme censorship in the country.
The law grants the state’s media regulator more power than before, allowing it greater oversight of online and print media disseminated in Ukraine, according to Just The News. It was reportedly signed as part of an ongoing attempt by Ukraine to satisfy the membership requirements of the European Union.
Zelensky has faced criticism for actions that some have described as oppressive in the past, especially as it pertains to the media. The Ukrainian president infamously nationalized his country’s TV news and banned numerous political opposition parties in March of 2022.
This is Zelensky
Zelensky is the President of Ukraine
Zelensky preaches freedom—but bans opposition parties, jails a political rival, shuts down media that criticizes him, and refuses to denounce Nazism in the military and government
Zelensky is evil
Don’t be like Zelensky pic.twitter.com/RY0SEshQuT
— Anthony Laurie (Энтони Лори) (@AnthonyALaurie) October 2, 2022
Included in Zelensky’s ban in March of 2022 was his largest opposition party, aptly titled, “Opposition Platform — For Life.” The Ukrainian president reportedly argued the actions were needed in order to fight Russian ‘misinformation’ and to “tell the truth about the war.”
As The Week reported:
Zelensky’s information policy involves “combining all national TV channels, the program content of which consists mainly of information and/or information-analytical programs, [into] a single information platform of strategic communication” to be called “United News.”
Leftist political commentator Krystal Ball of Breaking Points noted at the time that although Zelensky banned numerous parties, ones that are “linked to neo-nazis” appeared to be “good to go.”
Early drafts of the bill called to give regulators more power to fine and/or shut down media outlets they label as unlawful, but were tampered down as the proposed legislation went through the country’s parliament.
Regardless, many have lambasted the Zelensky-signed bill as an attack on freedom of expression.
“Ukraine will demonstrate its European commitment by promoting a free and independent media, not by establishing state control of information,” European Federation of Journalists General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez argued Friday.
The new law will give Zelensky the power to send mandatory instructions to news outlets, issue agencies fines, ban them off the web completely for a period of two weeks without any type of court decision, and even nullify the registration of any print media in the country, according to EuroWeekly News.