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EU Questions Ukrainian President's Sanctions On TV Stations

Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk is believed to be the owner of the three media outlets. (file photo)
Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk is believed to be the owner of the three media outlets. (file photo)

The European Union has questioned a move by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to sanction three television stations nominally owned by a member of a pro-Russian faction.

In a written statement on February 3, the spokesperson of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said that "while Ukraine's efforts to protect its territorial integrity and national security, as well as to defend itself from information manipulation are legitimate, in particular given the scale of disinformation campaigns affecting Ukraine including from abroad, this should not come at the expense of freedom of media and must be done in full respect of fundamental rights and freedoms and following international standards."

The statement added that "any measures taken should be proportional to the aim" and that Brussels would be in touch with Ukrainian authorities to receive more information on the issue.

Zelenskiy on February 2 signed off on the sanctions proposed by his national-security team.

Although Taras Kozak, a member of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life (OPZZh), is listed as the owner to the three outlets, Ukrainian media claim that the broadcasters – Ukrainian television channels 112, NewsOne, and ZIK -- are actually owned by Vicktor Medvedchuk, the head of OPZZh’s political council and one of the richest and most influential individuals in the country.

The EU statement contrasts with the response from the United States, which said that "the US supports Ukraine's effort to counter Russia's malign influence in line with Ukrainian law, in defense of its sovereignty & territorial integrity."

Medvedchuk, who heads the Opposition Platform For Life’s political council, was sanctioned by the United States in March 2014 following the overthrow of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych for his role in undermining democracy in Ukraine. He has denied that he owns the TV stations.

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