BRUSSELS, February 3. /TASS/. The European Union is currently reviewing consequences of the decision made by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and the National Security and Defense Council to impose sanctions against three opposition TV channels and reiterates that freedom of the media is crucial, Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU Peter Stano told TASS Wednesday.
"We are aware that on 2 February 2020 the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has decided to impose sanctions against Taras Kozak, the owner of three TV channels (112, NewsOne and ZIK TV). We are assessing the implications of this decision," he said. "As provided for by the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the EU attaches the highest importance to the independence and freedom of media."
According to Stano, Kiev’s actions should not undermine media freedoms and rights. "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 spokesperson stressed.
Stano added that Brussels will watch future developments closely. "We stress that any measures taken should be proportional to the aim. We are monitoring the case closely and will be in touch with Ukrainian authorities to receive more information. The EU will continue to engage with the Ukrainian authorities and share its experience in that regard," he pointed out.
On Tuesday, Zelensky greenlighted sanctions slapped on three TV channels and their owner, member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Taras Kozak. These restrictions will be in effect for five years. These measures envisage annulling or suspending licenses as well as banning the use of Ukrainian TV and radio frequencies. Their assets will be blocked, and their economic and financial liabilities will be frozen. The management will not be allowed to transfer financial assets to foreign countries, engage in transactions with securities and open accounts in foreign banks.
Besides, personal sanctions were imposed on Taras Kozak, a lawmaker representing the Opposition Platform - For Life party. Kozak will be restricted in using and managing his assets. His trade operations will be restricted, and his economic and financial liabilities will be frozen.
On Tuesday, the three channels went off air and are currently available only on YouTube. The channels described the move as "a political crackdown," while the Opposition Platform - For Life party said it was an attempt to usurp power and vowed to launch impeachment proceedings.