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Expert Explains What's Next After Kiev's Crackdown on RIA Novosti Journalists

© AP Photo / Efrem LukatskyUkrainian national security service armed agents. File photo
Ukrainian national security service armed agents. File photo - Sputnik International
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Ukraine's Security Service held a series of searches in Kiev in RIA Novosti Ukraine offices as well as in apartments of the employees working for the news agency, and detained the head of RIA Novosti Ukraine news portal. Sputnik spoke to author Nikola Mirkovic about the significance of it and about what to expect next.

Sputnik: Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) raided RIA Novosti Ukraine headquarters on Tuesday and detained the head of the web portal. The crackdown was condemned by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). How significant is this?

Nikola Mirkovic: This is quite significant but not surprising. Don’t forget what happen in 2013 and 2014, with the new government and President Poroshenko – there has been a crackdown of free speech globally across Ukraine. 7 or 8 Ukrainian journalists have reportedly been killed, and today we see that Ukrainian authorities are cracking down on foreign media. There is a consensus, there are rules for countries within OSCE that you do not do this; Ukraine are showing that they just don’t care about these rules and are instead cracking down on journalism and free speech in the country.

RIA Novosti Ukraine's Editor-in-Chief Kirill Vyshinsky at the 2015 Forum of European and Asian Media (photo from archieve). Kirill Vyshinsky was arrested by the Ukrainian Security Service in Kiev - Sputnik International
Journalists Worldwide Mark Solidarity With RIA Novosti Journo Detained in Kiev
Sputnik: What measures will likely but in place following this raid?

Nikola Mirkovic: They will probably try to close down RIA Novosti, what they are trying to do is they don’t want different information than the official information. They are in a situation of propaganda with a one way media system. They are accusing Russia but what they don’t want is media speaking differently to what the government thinks, highlighting what isn’t working properly in Ukraine today. This is propaganda and unfortunately, mainstream media in the west is not talking about it. This is bad. This is a direct attack on democracy if you cannot let journalists speak freely. I think the government will go all the way and intimidate journalists so they don’t express what they really about Ukraine.

Sputnik: Finally could we potentially see these scenes replicated in the near future with other broadcasters and media outlets? Who’s at risk here?

RIA Novosti Ukraine's Editor-in-Chief Kirill Vyshinsky at the 2015 Forum of European and Asian Media (photo from archieve). Kirill Vyshinsky was arrested by the Ukrainian Security Service in Kiev - Sputnik International
Custody for RIA Novosti's Vyshinsky to Be Determined on Thursday - Ukraine
Nikola Mirkovic: Well that’s definitely the signal that they’re giving. They’re showing that they want to control the media and that any journalists, whatsoever, they will not hesitate to shut them down. We have Ukrainian journalists in prison for expressing their views and beliefs; Ukraine is in a terrible situation today. The economy is struggling, there’s unemployment and then the war in Donbass; the only thing they are wanting to do today, is to control the media. Don’t forget there are elections coming up in a year or so and they want to make sure, Poroshenko in any case, wants to make sure that there will be no dissent and he will control the media so he can be re-elected or someone from his entourage. What these raids and the current situation in Ukraine show is that there is no room for dissent or contradiction and these are very bad signals that Kiev is giving out to the world today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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