Oligarch Rinat Akhmetov announced that he is transferring his media business, in particular the TV channels Ukraine and Ukraine 24, to the ownership of the state, the message from System Capital Management, which belongs to Akhmetov, reads.
"This week, Media Group Ukraine will give up all broadcast and satellite television licenses of our channels and licenses of our print media in Ukraine in favor of the state. We will also stop the activities of the MGU online media," said the businessman.
Akhmetov explains this decision by the entry into force of the law on oligarchs, although he does not recognize himself as an oligarch.
"The short six-month deadline set by the law for the sale of media assets and the Russian military aggression against Ukraine do not allow the SCM company to sell the media business on market terms," the statement reads.
According to Akhmetov, the total amount of capital invested in the media holding exceeds 1.5 billion dollars. In total, 4,000 people work in the media holding.
It should be noted that "Media Group Ukraine" includes more than 10 TV channels and online outlets: TV channels Ukraine, Ukraine 24, NLO TV, Indigo TV, Football 1/2/3, 34 TV channel (regional), Xtra TV satellite broadcasting operator, OLL.TV platform, Baing Media Partnership agency, Segodnya site, Vogue.UA cross-platform project.
Minister of Culture of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko called Akhmetov's decision a "precedent".
"The only thing I can say at this point is serious news. Because Media Group Ukraine is one of the four largest private media groups. This cannot but affect the market. Because the market is already very depressed today because of the war. We will learn more information — then we will be able to comment in more detail," he said.
At the same time, media lawyer Roman Holovenko noted that the license cannot be simply given to the state. It can be submitted, but then the radio frequencies will simply be put up for competition again, and it is unclear what will happen to the editorial offices of Akhmetov's media.
"Therefore, this statement looks more like an attack on the anti-oligarchic law. It is possible that this could be an excuse, and not the real reason for the statement," Holovenko believes.
The law on oligarchs
It entered into force on November 7, 2021 and will be valid for 10 years from May 7, 2022. Since then, oligarchs in Ukraine are considered to be citizens who meet at least three of the following characteristics:
- participates in political life;
- has significant influence on mass media;
- is the ultimate beneficial owner of a business entity that has a monopoly position on the market and maintains or strengthens this position within one year;
- has assets for more than one million living wages established for able-bodied persons (now it is 2 billion 270 million hryvnias, or a little more than 83 million dollars).
The National Security and Defense Council is tasked with adding individuals into the register of oligarchs and removing them from it.