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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Liveblog Day 183
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Bans 14 Russian Television Channels
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RFE/RL reports:

Ukraine has banned 14 Russian television channels accusing them of spreading war propaganda.

Among the channels Ukrainian authorities banned on August 19 were Russia Today and Life News.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry aide Anton Gerashchenko made the announcement on his Facebook site, saying the channels were taken off the air in Ukraine because they were "broadcasting propaganda of war and violence."

The new announcement is the result of a law which would sanction Russian companies deemed a threat to Ukraine. The law sanctions companies which are considered important to Russia's aggressive foreign policy, but unlike their European and American counterparts they also focus on the media. Again, RFE/RL reports:

The draft law, which passed by a small majority in a first reading on August 12, provides for sanctions against 172 individuals and 65 entities in Russia and other countries for the support and financing of separatism in Ukraine.

Targets include behemoths like energy giant Gazprom, which currently relies on Ukraine to pipe nearly half of its gas supplies to Europe. Ukrainian economists have eagerly suggested Moscow could lose as much as $150 billion in revenue if the sanctions are imposed.

Press advocates are concerned that such heady projections may trump objections about the legislation's media provisions, which would allow for the prohibition of individual print, broadcast, and Internet outlets outside and inside Ukraine, as well as limiting access to public telecommunications networks.

International watchdogs have condemned the proposals as a profound rollback in Ukraine's commitment to free speech, considered one of the strongest in the post-Soviet space.

While the Ukrainian crackdown on Russian media outlets has been widely condemned, it is also important to remember the context. When Russian troops began to take over Crimea, one of the first things they did was arrest Ukrainian journalists and raid television and radio broadcast centers. The signals of independent Ukrainian news outlets were then replaced with those of Russian state media.

Ukraine has also been accused of arresting Russian journalists, and some Russian journalists have been deported or their entry into Ukraine has been blocked. At the same time, journalists have also been arrested, kidnapped, and harassed in separatist territory. On the other side of the border, Russia has banned journalism that (according to the Kremlin) spreads anti-Russian propaganda. They also now require bloggers to register with the government, and they have shut down or tampered with the few remaining independent media sources in the country.

Clearly Ukraine now sees itself in an existential struggle against a new and aggressive Russian imperialism, and it believes that the Russian journalists operating or broadcasting in the country are part of the Kremlin's strategy for control in Ukraine.