New York, May 24, 2018--Ukrainian authorities today published a presidential decree that extends for three years sanctions imposed in 2017 against Russian state-funded news outlets and their journalists, as well as other foreign entities and individuals, and added the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti-Ukraine to the sanctions list, according to media reports.
The decree, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed on May 14, prolongs measures taken last year against Russian media companies-- including Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), Sputnik, VGTRK, NTV, REN TV, TNT, OTR and others - that restricted or suspended their access to Ukrainian telecommunications networks. The decree also barred the outlets' journalists from entering Ukraine for the next three years and froze any assets that they had in the country.
"We call on Ukrainian authorities to refrain from banning information sources, be it ones with favorable or unfavorable coverage," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Fighting propaganda with censorship is not only undemocratic but also ineffective. We urge Ukraine to reverse the ban on Russian media companies."
On May 15, 2018, Ukrainian state security agents searched RIA Novosti-Ukraine's Kiev office and detained its director Kirill Vyshynsky, accusing the agency of being used in an "information war" by Russia against Ukraine, CPJ reported. Vyshynsky was charged with state treason and is being held in a detention center in Kherson, according to media reports.
Ukraine's renewed sanctions come amid tensions between Kiev and Moscow over Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its support of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has claimed over 10,300 lives, according to the United Nations.