Since the start of this year, the Ukraine has mounted an accelerating campaign to shut down all “pro-Russia” (apostrophes because more often than not they’re not so much explicitly pro-Russian, as merely less anti-Russian and more oppositionist than the mainstream) media. Examples include:
- This February saw the shutdown of three TV channels (112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK) linked to Viktor Medvedchuk, an opposition leader, in a move that was praised by the US Embassy in Kiev. He is now under house arrest under treason charges based on undisclosed evidence from the security agencies.
- Popular anti-Maidan blogger Anatoly Shariy was charges with treason and hate speech and now has political asylum in the EU.
- The foremost opposition website strana.ua was shut down in August (chief editor Igor Guzhva now has asylum in Austria), which is the 4th most popular news site in Ukraine. Next to zero Western attention, while a ton of ink was spilt over the Russian news site TV Rain merely having to declare its status as a “foreign agent.”
- Most recently, Zelensky signed a decree ordering ISPs to block access to the websites of 12 Russian news organizations, including Vedomosti and Moskovskiy Komsomolets (which ironically sooner lean liberal). This extends Ukrainian restrictions beyond Russian state media organizations like RT, which were banned long ago, as well as blocks on Russian social media from 2017.
- There are now discussions about shutting down the TV channel Nash, which is considered to be the last opposition Ukrainian channel.
This of course comes on the heels of the decree blanket banning Russian language schooling across Ukraine in September 2020.
I don’t suppose any of this is too surprising. President Biden has signaled that the US will be retreating from its imperial commitments, at least outside the West Pacific, giving the Ukrainian elites an additional impetus to accelerate the consolidation of the Ukrainian nation as an anti-Russian project.