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Rada Passes Media Regulation Law, Drawing Criticism From Press Freedom Groups - New York Times

Rada Passes Media Regulation Law, Drawing Criticism From Press Freedom Groups - New York Times

Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada, freedom of speech, mass media, bill on media, law on media, freedom of press

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for a bill that expands the powers of the country's government to regulate mass media. According to journalists and human rights organizations, this law threatens freedom of speech and the press. At the same time, supporters of the adoption of the bill believe that its adoption will help Ukraine to better meet the criteria for joining the European Union.

The American publication The New York Times writes about it.

After the Verkhovna Rada vote, the law must be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Back in 2019, the head of state ordered the development of a law that makes it possible to strengthen the regulation of mass media.

It is noted that so far Zelenskyy has not announced whether he intends to sign the bill adopted by the parliament.

However, his administration has already been criticized for suppressing the rights of freedom of the press.

If the law is passed, the state regulator of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine - the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting (National Council) - will expand its powers spreading them to online and print news media.

The National Council will have the power to fine media outlets, revoke their licenses, temporarily block certain online media outlets without a court order, and require social media platforms and search giants like Google to remove content that violates the law.

The measure was passed by parliament on Tuesday along with a number of other bills that lawmakers said were designed to help the country meet EU legal requirements to join. The bills included measures to protect the rights of national minorities.

Representatives of the Ukrainian mass media said that the new law goes far beyond the requirements of the European Union. They accused the authorities of using EU membership obligations as a pretext to impose greater control over the press.

Previous versions of the media bill drew criticism at the domestic and international levels as they passed through parliament.

Thus, in July of this year, the secretary general of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutierrez, called the provisions of the bill "coercive" and "worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes."

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that advocates for press freedom around the world, urged Ukrainian lawmakers in September to reject the bill, saying it increases "government control over information at a time when citizens need it most."

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) drew attention to the fact that changes to the bill were made at closed meetings of parliamentary committees. At the same time, the 959-page list with amendments was made public only a day before the vote.

NUJU warned that the bill will contribute to the erosion of freedoms that "distinguish the social system of Ukraine from the regime of dictatorial Russia."

As Ukrainian News Agency earlier reported, on Tuesday, December 13, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a bill on media, which was actively opposed by journalists, Western human rights organizations, and the OSCE.

We also reported that the Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada drew attention to the fact that the European Union does not require Ukraine to regulate mass media.