Zelensky explains to G7, EU ambassadors reasons for blocking of several Ukrainian TV channels
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the ambassadors of G7 and European Union countries to Ukraine exchanged opinions on Ukraine's cooperation with international partners, reforms in Ukraine, and ways to peacefully resolve the conflict in Donbas at their meeting on Wednesday, the Ukrainian President's Office said.
Since the last meeting in this format held in 2020, Ukraine has seen a series of events jeopardizing its state system, and resolute steps aimed at tackling these challenges have been taken, Zelensky said.
Specifically, the president briefed foreign diplomats on the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council's February 2 decision to impose sanctions on a number of media outlets.
"I would like to note the work of the Security Service of Ukraine in the fight against the danger of Russian aggression in the information space. Sanctions against the media are always a difficult decision for any government except for the authoritarian one. This decision is not emotional, it has been maturing, it has been prepared for a long time on the basis of information from many Ukrainian government agencies. This is by no means an attack on freedom of speech, this is a well-founded decision to protect national security," Zelensky said.
The sanctioned television channels have long been actively used for disinformation campaigns in Ukraine that are designed to undermine the country's reforms, its policy in favor of European and Euro-Atlantic integration and to promote the aggressor state's hybrid influence on political processes in Ukraine, the president said.
Head of the Ukrainian President's Office Andriy Yermak, in turn, said sanctions were imposed on these media outlets on the basis of strong evidence.
"Freedom of speech, freedom of work of journalists has been and remains a priority for the Ukrainian state," Yermak said.
Zelensky, for his part, added that nothing threatens freedom of speech in Ukraine.
"Ukraine has perhaps the largest concentration of free broadcasters and media in the region," Zelensky said, adding that the Ukrainian authorities would act exclusively in accordance with the law.
The participants in the meeting also focused on Ukraine's judicial reform and steps to sort out the situation triggered by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court's decision. Zelensky also outlined further steps to reform Ukraine's judicial system and to draw up a 2021-2025 strategy for the development of the judicial system.
The president said that a tentative presentation of this entire judicial reform was due to take place on Wednesday.
"This is a large number of bills, successive steps that will lead to the purification of the judiciary in Ukraine. Tomorrow, after a meeting with me, with the Commission on Legal Reform, we will understand the deadlines for the implementation of all these steps and start preparing for the public presentation of judicial reform in Ukraine," Zelensky said.
During the meeting, Zelensky also presented the key achievements of Ukraine in implementing reforms. In particular, he noted the important role of the law on reforming the Security Service of Ukraine, which became a real step towards implementing EU and NATO standards. The Security Service reform also creates preconditions for further progress in economic liberalization and business facilitation in Ukraine, he said.
During the meeting, the parties also exchanged views on the security situation in Donbas and the way negotiations on peacefully settling this conflict have been going.
On February 2, Zelensky enforced a decision by the National Security and Defense Council on imposing special personal economic and other restrictive measures on a number of individuals and legal entities.
The decision among others applies to Verkhovna Rada member from the Opposition Platform - For Life party Taras Kozak and the legal entities Ariadna TV, Novy Format, TV Vybor, 112 TV Television and Radio Company, Leader TV, Partner TV, News 24, and New Communications acting as the founders of the television channels 112, NewsOne, and ZIK, which are believed to be associated with Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the leaders of the Opposition Platform - For Life party.