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Statement by Ambassador Ivan Soltanovsky, Permanent Representative of Russia to the Council of Europe on persecutions of media in Ukraine

These days we witness the persecutions of the few remaining independent TV channels in Ukraine. On February 2 President Zelensky introduced sanctions against three Ukrainian TV channels, namely “112 Ukraine”, “NewsOne” and “ZiK” while nationalist gangs conducted intimidation actions in the vicinity of the channels “Nash” and “Inter”.

This step by Vladimir Zelensky directly violates his election promises to respect the principle of language diversity and the freedom of expression, his declarations that he would never close TV channels along with his appeals “to respect the right of people to speak Russian”. The presidential decision also violates internal legislation of Ukraine and international human right commitments of that country including article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The right of millions of Ukrainians to the freedom of expression was blatantly violated, they are de-facto devoid of their right to access to information.

We have seen no public reactions of the bodies of the Council of Europe to these blatant violations of the freedom of expression by Ukrainian authorities. At the same time, the prohibition of broadcasting of the three channels deserved support from British ambassador in Kiev Ms. Melinda Simmons. We are bewildered with the fact that an official representative of a member-state of the Council of Europe can welcome the violations of the freedom of expression in other member-state.

It is hard for any independent observer to reach any other conclusion but the one that the Council of Europe tends to openly voice its criticism only when political climate favors this. The lack of public official reaction by the Council of Europe to new human rights violations in Ukraine is shameful per se. Objective analyst cannot but come to a sad conclusion that our organisation is practicing double standards in the public sphere more and more in the key area of its competence.


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