Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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The fifth Kremlin column captures the media space of Ukraine

On June 14, on the eve of the Orthodox holiday of the Holy Trinity, it became known that the People's Deputy from the "Opposition platform" and long-term partner of Viktor Medvedchuk, Taras Kozak bought the third-largest news channel "ZIK". Immediately after the official release, a number of journalists, TV presenters, editors and managers of the broadcaster announced their dismissal from the channel. "ZIK" along with "112 Ukraine" and "NewsOne" were included in the newly Media Holding "News", the general producer of which became the Russian, Alexei Semenov – the former general producer of TV channels "Pryamiy", "NewsOne", Manager of "112 Ukraine", "First" and "Novyi Kanal". He calls his task to restart the broadcaster in order to bring it to the top three among information TV channels. On June 18, "ZIK" updated the management – staff from "NewsOne" and "Inter"appeared in the the channel's managers. The channel announced its new concept "to sew the country".

The agreement has caused great concern both in the television market and in politics. On June 18, the "People's Front" party called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to convene the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) because of the threat to the information space. On June 19, the Anti-Monopoly Committee announced its intention to check the agreement on the subject of compliance with the antimonopoly legislation.

For the first time the media began to replicate more than a year ago the information that the Viktor Medvedchuk wants to buy TV channel "ZIK" of the businessman, Petro Dyminsky. The host of the channel and the head of the Department of Information Broadcasting, Roxana Runo in January 2018 announced the termination of the release of her program "ZітКнення" because of Viktor Medvedchuk. According to her, during a plot about release of the Ukrainian prisoners of war in Donbass she refused to include on air Victor Medvedchuk and to represent him as the person thanks to which the Ukrainian prisoners were released.[1] The TV channel ignored all the accusations, and the press service of Viktor Medvedchuk said that the channel itself insisted on his comment, but later added that the broadcast did not take place "for technical reasons."

These information channels are needed only to influence the masses in order to form public opinion in the right direction, taking into account the pro-Russian views of Viktor Medvedchuk, says Volodymyr Fesenko. "I think the real owner of all three channels is Viktor Medvedchuk. Taras Kozak is only an intermediary, a nominal owner. Even two TV channels in the same information niche for the purchase was not needed. These broadcasters competed with each other. Now there is a third broadcaster and probably there will be a fourth. If the sale of "Pryamiy" Cossack will happen, the fact that has long been suspected will be confirmed that is the connection between Poroshenko and Medvedchuk. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the purchase of three news channels in order to influence public opinion. This is an attempt to monopolize the niche of news channels so that all major news channels are under control of Medvedchuk. The audiences of these channels are different - more “pro-Russian” audience in "NewsOne", "112" previously had more moderate audience, different politics in their offices watched the channel, but now "112" turns into a PR Department of the Medvedchuk – he appears there every day with different statements. Medvedchuk needs "ZIK" to enter the Ukrainian-speaking audience, which is used to vote for pro-Ukrainian candidates, more moderate forces of the national democratic direction."[2]

However soon, on June 30, Victor Medvedchuk again strengthened his positions in the information space of Ukraine, having bought part of shares of TV channel "Inter" from oligarch, Dmytro Firtash. According to the "Narodna Pravda" this is reported by the “Ukrainian Institute of Policy Analysis and Management” in its Telegram channel. Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who is now in Austria and is likely to be extradited to the United States, began to sell his assets to partners. "Thus, he sold his share of 80% of the shares of PJSC "Inter TV Channel" to Viktor Medvedchuk, who owns the media holding "Novosti" (including TV channels "112 Ukraine", "NewsOne", "ZIK"). Another 20% of the shares of "Inter" remain with Serhiy Lyovochkin (partner of Medvedchuk and Firtash on the "Opposition platform – For life")," the Institute noted.

It is argued that Medvedchuk is amplified in the information space and intends to buy a few more channels. "It will be hard for Zelensky's team, as they came into conflict with Medvedchuk, who amplifies in information space, in particular, plans to buy "Pryamiy" from Petro Poroshenko (already secretly controls) and "5 Kanal", said in an announcement of the Institute.[3]

Media-movement "Media for a conscious choice" considers the concentration of information broadcasting in Ukraine in the hands of pro-Russian politicians to be dangerous. This is stated in the statement of Media-movement, according to the Detector media. The history of relations between Medvedchuk and the media shows that this politician is inclined to censor media and can use media as a means of political influence, with complete disregard for ethical norms and professional standards of journalism, the Media-movement noted.

At the same time, the authors of the statement pay attention to the fact that according to the monitoring of "Detector media", TV channels "112 Ukraine" and "NewsOne" after the transition to the control of the environment of Viktor Medvedchuk became actively spread manipulative messages and misinformation, approving in the public space an agenda synchronized with the Kremlin propaganda messages. Also, these TV channels are engaged in outright agitation for the "Opposition platform – For life", and representatives of this political force are the most frequent guests on the air and even leading author's programs.[4]

Given the above, now there is a massive seizure of Ukrainian media space. Of course, behind all this, there is a powerful group of collaborators of Ukrainian politicians, in particular, party "Opposition platform - For life", which serve the interests of Russia in a hybrid war with Ukraine.

Thus, Medvedchuk reports on these channels the Kremlin messages, namely: anti-NATO rhetoric, the need to be a neutral country; establishing peace in Donbass, but they do not say by which way, and this is exactly what requires Putin and cheap gas.

Consequently, such a hard populism, which is practically impossible to realize, pushes Ukraine to surrender on the conditions of Russia. The next stereotype imposed in these media is a company against Zelensky aimed at discrediting him. Here, this rhetoric consonant with "European Solidarity", which also aims to discredit the newly elected President.



[2] Ibid.