Ukraine <3 the State Department and vice versa.
The New York Times reports (actually):
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has signed off on legislation that would significantly expand the government’s regulatory power over the news media, a measure that journalists have warned will erode press freedom.
Mr. Zelensky, whose administration has been criticized for undermining press freedoms, ordered the drafting of a law increasing media regulation in 2019.
The measure was passed by Ukraine’s Parliament earlier this month along with a spate of other bills that lawmakers say were intended to help the country meet the European Union’s legislative conditions for membership. The bills included measures to protect the rights of national minorities. Mr. Zelensky signed the media regulation bill into law on Thursday, the Ukrainian media reported.
The media regulation bill expands the authority of Ukraine’s state broadcasting regulator, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting, to cover the online and print news media. It gives the regulator the power to fine media outlets, revoke their licenses, temporarily block certain online media outlets without a court order, and request that social media platforms and search giants like Google remove content that violates the law, the Ukrainian news media has reported.
But Ukrainian journalists have said that the new media statute goes far beyond what the European Union requires. They have accused the government of using the membership obligations as a pretext to seize greater control of the press.
The media bill also drew international criticism as it moved through Parliament. In July, the general secretary of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutiérrez, called the bill’s regulation “coercive” and “worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes.” The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that champions press freedom around the world, called for Ukrainian lawmakers to drop the bill in September, saying that it tightened “government control over information at a time when citizens need it the most.”
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine warned in a statement before the parliamentary vote that the bill would help erode the freedoms that “distinguish the social system of Ukraine from the regime of dictatorial Russia.”
But the deputy chair of the Parliament’s information policy committee, Yevheniia Kravchuk, countered the charge that supporters had used E.U. requirements as cover for an attempt to rein in press freedoms, arguing that sweeping changes to Ukraine’s media legislation were overdue.
“Of course, this bill is even broader than the E.U. directive, because we needed to change and modernize our media legislation, which has not been changed for 16 years,” she said in a statement after the bill was adopted. “It was adopted back when there was no internet at all.”
— Anushka Patil