Ukraine: President bans opposition media and sanctions editor-in-chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj last week banned the opposition media news site and imposed sanctions on its editor-in-chief, Ihor Huzhva. Lawyers have criticised these measures for their “lack of legal basis”. This decision comes only six months after closing down three TV channels in early 2021. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) have joined their affiliate in Ukraine, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), in calling this extrajudicial action a threat to press freedom and media pluralism in the country.

Credits: Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

On 21 August 2021, it was revealed that President Volodymyr Zelenskyj banned, one of the largest news sites in Ukraine, by decree. The authorities also announced sanctions against the outlet’s editor-in-chief, who has been living in Austrian exile since 2018.

The authorities cited the protection of national security and based the ban on a submission by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), which described journalists as “pro-Russian propagandists”. SBU head Ivan Bakanov said the measures were taken to protect the “information space”. is one of the few remaining opposition media in Ukraine.

President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) Sergiy Tomilenko reacted: “The extrajudicial blocking of opposition news media is a waiver of the legal safeguards of press independence.

The editorial team of said in a letter that the actions by the Ukrainian government are “illegal” and that they are hoping international journalists will raise the topic of censorship against their media outlet.

Strana’s editor-in-chief Huzhva said he will continue his work despite the blocking: “It doesn’t matter. Under (former Ukrainian President) Poroshenko, I was put in prison. Under Zelenskyj, the website is blocked.” The website already moved to a new domain:

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

Follow the IFJ on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Subscribe to IFJ News