Ukraine must reverse ban on Russian TV channels

New York, August 20, 2014–On Tuesday, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov ordered cable operators in the country to stop airing 14 Russian TV channels in an effort to curb Russia’s war propaganda, according to news reports. The Interior Ministry cited Russia’s decision to ban Ukrainian TV channels in Crimea as a justification for the order, as well as Ukraine’s right to “defend its information space from Russia’s informational aggression,” according to Anton Gerashchenko, Avakov’s adviser.

“We are concerned by Ukraine’s ban on Russian television channels and call on authorities to reverse it immediately,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “The Ukrainian public deserves access to a range of information that reflects all sides and views.”

In recent months, the climate for press freedom in Ukraine has deteriorated, with violent attacks against local and international reporters, confiscation of their reporting equipment, and obstruction of television transmissions from all sides, according to CPJ research and a local press freedom group.