RT’s Paula Slier, and Rossiya 24’s Evgeniy Primakov were forced out of Ukraine while they were attempting to attend a conference on free speech and freedom of the press, organized by the OSCE in Kiev.
While it is of course very unfortunate, that two journalists were banned entry into Kiev – The Mother of Russian Cities – simply because they work for Russian news, one can not help but be amazed at the irony.
Ukraine hosts a meeting on freedom of the press, and then banned from attending members of the press whom they disagree with. This is almost as ironic as the time that Ukraine tried to legalize “illegal corruption”, via the legislative process.
The jury is still out, on whether or not corruption is already legal in Ukraine de jure, because the Ukrainian people certainly have to suffer under it on a daily basis. The irony here can not be overstated, once again folks, journalists have been denied the freedom to attend a meeting…on the freedom of the press.
This was an incredibly foolish decision; I say this not only because I feel the journalists should have been welcomed, but from a strategic perspective, it was very bad for Ukraine. To be clear, this was the result of not simply podlosti (meaness) this was gluposti (stupidity).
Major western think tanks, like the Atlantic Council, have already taken notice of Ukraine’s massive far right problem, and the last thing Kiev wants is more people noticing. To be clear, the west does not care if there are Nazis in Ukraine, the West has no moral issues with Nazism, being the birthplace of that ideology, but they would like them to be more discrete.
The West would prefer that Ukraine adopt an outwardly liberal persona, while violently suppressing the Ukrainian people in secret, under a media blackout.
Banning Russian journalists for the obvious fact that they are from Russian news organizations is NOT a good way to direct publicity away from the far right problem. These people are journalists! They make stories that people read and watch on TV! Lots of people read them actually, including the Ukrainian diaspora.
RT currently has 2,724,776 subscribers on their world famous Youtube channel, and many of their views come from America. RT is actually the MOST WATCHED news channel on youtube, with combined views of over 5 billion. By Comparision, UT (Ukraine Today), has a meager 29,051 subscribers. Far more people are going to watch RT’s coverage with sympathy, of their journalist being expelled, than anyone will bother to watch Ukraine today.
And the majority of RT’s viewers are foreigners too, even westerners – the exact group Ukraine depends on for support!
RT is a primarily international media organization, whereas the largest domestic news in Russia is the RIA/Vesti group. This means that by banning Russian journalists, millions of foreigners will see the hypocrisy and irony of Ukraine banning journalists from a press freedom event, while no one will bother to read the Ukrainian response. Even Ukrainian media is dominated by the Russian language.
The Ukrainian authorities were either too foolish, or blinded by hatred, to realize that by banning the entry of these journalists, they just earned themselves major negative publicity.
This totally destroys the Potemkin’s village they are trying to create – the illusion of a free Ukraine leads forward by the vanguard of the revolution of dignity.
Ironically, Potemkin eventually did build great cities in Ukraine, some of the most famous including Odessa and Kherson, however, these cities were built by whom…the Russian Empire of course.
Ukraine’s own actions work against themselves. The Ukrainian people need freedom of the press, and the Ukrainian authorities fail to deliver even the illusion of that…even for their own benefit!
Ukraine has expelled RT’s Middle East Bureau correspondent Paula Slier and Rossiya 24 news channel’s Evgeny Primakov, banning them from attending a conference on freedom of speech, which was organized by the OSCE in Kiev.
The event organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is ironically aimed at strengthening media freedoms and protection of free speech in a time of conflict in Ukraine, Slier reported from the departure lounge of an international airport in Kiev.
— Paula Slier (@PaulaSlier_RT) June 26, 2018
She was stopped on Tuesday morning at the customs for a check and later told that she is barred from entering the country. The authorities said she has been banned for five years, but offered no explanation why and her deportation papers only state that a decision not to let her in was taken “by an authorized state body of Ukraine.”
— Paula Slier (@PaulaSlier_RT) 26 июня 2018 г.
— Paula Slier (@PaulaSlier_RT) 26 июня 2018 г.
“I have participated in a number of such OSCE conferences before, and they always had heated discussions largely between Ukrainian representatives and Russian representatives,” Slier said. “My participation was always to try and promote a more inclusive way of covering conflicts. The input that I was planning to give today was constructive input on how we can ensure press freedom, particularly for journalists like myself, who work in conflict zones.”
A similar story was told by Evgeny Primakov from Rossiya 24 news channel, who was also accredited to take part in the OSCE event. He was told by a Ukrainian border official that he posed a threat to the country’s national security and was banned for five years from entering Ukraine, he said. Primakov said he had planned to put forward new ways to mend the rift between media professionals in Russia and Ukraine at the OSCE conference.
“Apparently our counterparts want to stick to their confrontational agenda, invent a ‘beast snarl of the Russian imperialism’ and showcase it everywhere. And every point of view, especially a moderate one, that contradicts and questions their perception of the world is unbearable and unacceptable to them,” he suggested.
He added that the real damage from the incident is done not to Slier and himself but to the Ukrainian journalistic community.
I regret that journalists working for Russian media – Evgeny Primakov & @PaulaSlier_RT – were reportedly denied entry to Ukraine. I reiterate that all OSCE p.States should facilitate free travel for journalists across the region. See previous communique: https://t.co/1wYkub6jqg
— OSCE media freedom (@OSCE_RFoM) June 26, 2018
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, whose branch organized the Kiev event expressed regret about the development.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called Ukraine’s decision stunning. “Ukrainian authorities must urgently explain this decision and stop pressuring journalists. This is totally contrary to the proper functioning of a democracy,” IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger told RT.
Slier and Primakov are apparently the latest journalists, who were prevented by Ukraine from doing their jobs for no other reason than having links to Russia. Dozens of Russian journalists had earlier been barred from entry or stripped of local media credentials and deported from Ukraine under a pretext of national security. The broadcasting of of Russian TV channels has been prohibited in Ukraine, with Kiev claiming to be fighting “Russian propaganda” with the blanket ban.
For some the situation is much more dire than a mere denial of entry. Kirill Vyshynsky, the head of a Russia-linked Ukrainian news agency, was arrested and accused of state treason by Ukrainian authorities last month. A dual citizen of Ukraine and Russia, his ‘treason’ apparently boils down to reporting news in a way that the government in Kiev does not like.
When Slier covered wildfires in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant expulsion zone in 2015, some local media outlets called on the national security service SBU to arrest her, branding Slier as a ‘Kremlin propagandist’ after a blogger falsely accused her of cheering rebels in Eastern Ukraine.
RT at the time decided that her life may be in danger and had to call Slier off. Previously she covered the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine including the downing of MH17 flight in July 2014.
Honoured to open OSCE media pluralism confernce with the discussion on freedom of speech in Ukraine and the region #FOMUKRAINE where we talk on threats, fakes, oligarch owned media, PBS, regulations vs ban https://t.co/1RzI89hCk4 @Hromadske pic.twitter.com/Gqfn9chVmG
— Nataliya Gumenyuk (@ngumenyuk) June 26, 2018
The OSCE event, according to its own description, brings together “media professionals, government and civil society representatives, intergovernmental officers, renowned international experts and journalists to discuss the challenges they face, and suggest ways to promote freedom of expression, access to quality information and freedom of the media in Ukraine, in particular in times of the current conflict.”
Its expert panels are dedicated to “ensuring media diversity and pluralism, countering disinformation and propaganda, safety of journalists, combating ‘hate speech,’ and freedom of artistic expression.” Slier and Primakov both have extensive experience of reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East.
It can not be overstated how foolish of a choice this was. Ukraine who is trying to convince the world the Maidan was a “revolution of dignity” keeps unintentionally exposing it as being anything but. It seems the policies of the Kiev regime have become their own worst nightmare.