15:27 GMT +325 May 2018
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    Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko waves next to Polish President Andrzej Duda at the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017

    Kiev Would Not Have Imposed Sanctions Against Russia 'Without External Support'

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    On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko brought into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to expand the list of sanctioned Russian individuals and legal entities and to extend the duration of these sanctions.

    A number of Russia's leading media outlets, IT companies and social networks were targeted by the decision. The updated sanctions list now includes 1,228 Russian individuals and 468 companies.

    German government spokesman Steffen Seibert commented on the decision, saying that the restrictions contradict European Union values. According to Seibert, "media freedom in Europe is one of the most important values." He also stressed that the sanctions are not contributing to normalization between Kiev and Moscow.

    Earlier, Human Rights Watch commented on the decision, calling on Poroshenko to "immediately reverse the ban" on Russian social networks and IT companies.

    "This is yet another example of the ease with which President Poroshenko unjustifiably tries to control public discourse in Ukraine. Poroshenko may try to justify this latest step, but it is a cynical, politically expedient attack on the right to information affecting millions of Ukrainians, and their personal and professional lives," said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch.

    In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Grigoriy Trofimchuk, senior analyst at the Workshop of Eurasian Ideas think-tank, agreed that Poroshenko’s decisions contradict the basic principles of the EU.

    "It is about the fundamental set of values of the EU. Brussels promotes them and, I would say, imposes those principles on its partners. Even if Berlin did not want to comment on Kiev’s actions it would have no choice. In fact, Germany is the leader in Europe. This is why Berlin has to articulate criticism," Trofimchuk said.

    At the same time, according to the analyst, currently it is unclear whether President Poroshenko will listen to the German government and human rights activists.

    "Of course, Poroshenko will hear the criticism but the question is whether he will listen to it. He would not have made such a radical move without external support," Trofimchuk concluded.

    According to Crimean lawmaker Vladislav Ganzhara, the latest sanctions are yet more proof that there is no real democracy in Ukraine.

    "I hope that there will be reaction in the international arena because this is a serious problem. Ukraine is turning into one of the most closed countries in the world. This decision proves that no democracy has been built in Ukraine in the last three years. Instead, democracy has been destroyed," Ganzhara told Radio Sputnik.

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    media, sanctions, Human Rights Watch, Petro Poroshenko, Russia, Ukraine
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