Ukraine’s Public Broadcaster Reports Pressure from Zelenskyy’s Office
20 October, 2021

The host of the show “Zvorotniy vidlik” (‘Countdown’) on UA:PBC, Myroslava Barchuk, has publicly spoken of pressure on the program’s editors on the part of the President’s Office. The presenter announced this on Facebook.

According to Barchuk, subordinates of the head of the office, Andriy Yermak, accused “Zvorotniy vidlik” of the lack of balance of opinions in the October 18 episode. However, according to the presenter, Servant of the People MPs do not come on the program because the editorial office does not comply with the requirements of the President's Office.

Barchuk points out that the President’s Office controls the presence of "servants" on live shows, in particular, the candidates are agreed with the contact person of the adviser to the head of the office, Mykhailo Podoliak. Recently, the editorial office has been receiving conditions from the authorities under which "servants" will appear on the show.

"For example, last Monday (October 11 - ed.) came the first ultimatum: during the discussion of energy security on ‘Zvorotniy vidlik’ either two ‘servants’ (both non-experts) will be present or none. We decided not to accept ultimatums and invited Lyudmyla Buimister, who no longer obeyed the instructions of the President’s Office," the journalist said.

This Monday, October 18, the editorial board of ‘Zvorotniy vidlik’ received another ultimatum. According to Barchuk, two "servants" would come on the air if the editorial office withdrew an invitation to the now independent MP Geo Leros.

"We took that as pressure. We refused to comply with the ultimatum, and the representatives of the majority did not come. This morning (October 19 - ed.) we received accusations from Yermak's people that we did not have representatives of the majority on the air and that it was ‘non-compliance with journalistic standards’," the presenter said.

Barchuk calls such actions of the authorities "a threat to freedom of speech and independent journalism", and reminded of the pressure on journalists during Viktor Yanukovych's presidency.

In response to a request from UKRINFORM, PO rep Podoliak expressed surprise at the claims and assured that the authorities do not have any special treatment of UA:PBC, adding that interference in the work of any editorial office is "nonsense". 

UA:PBC is the national public broadcaster of Ukraine.