Head of Ukraine's Public Broadcaster Suspended From Job by Supervisory Board
31 January, 2019

CEO of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) Zurab Alasania. Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Zurab Alasania, the CEO of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC), has been removed from his position after a supervisory board vote, a move that Alasania described as concerning and careless. He criticized the closed format of the vote and the lack of reasoning behind it.

"Not that it's completely unexpected - they tried to do this for a long time, and this time they even had the ballot papers at the ready," Alasania wrote on Facebook. "But so blatantly, just before the [presidential] election... that's somewhat injudicious."

The news of the decision first emerged from a Facebook post by the member of the board Svitlana Ostapa.

"The majority of the supervisory board of Suspilne (Ukraine's National Public Broadcasting Company -ed.) has just voted in favor of early termination of the contract with the head of the organization Zurab Alasania. 9 people voted for it, 3 against," she wrote.

A fight for an independent public broadcaster has been a longstanding one in Ukraine. Although UA:PBC has been functioning in its new form for a while, the reforms within it are still in progress. Unlike public broadcasting channels in some other countries, UA:PBC is dependent on state funds only.

Among those who expressed concerns about Alasania's suspension from UA:PBC was Ukrainian MP Mustafa Nayyem.

"This is a very worrying signal," Nayyem wrote on Facebook. "Two months before the election, a channel with 93% audience coverage is left with no manager."

Alasania, whose four-year contract with UA:PBC was signed in May 2017, refused to immediately comment on this situation to Hromadske referring to Ostapa instead. In his Facebook post published three hours later, he called on public support.

"Friends, I'm appealing to you. Suspilne needs [your] support. Both from the outside and the inside," he wrote.

Alasania added that he will be taking this matter to court but only after the grounds for this decision are made public.

READ ALSO: Open Letter: Ukraine’s Public Broadcasting Reform Sabotaged

/By Maria Romanenko