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    (англ.) The Independent Media Council’s position on the sanctions introduced against the television channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK

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    I. Circumstances

    By the Decree of February 2, 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi approved the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) “On imposing personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)” against the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK.

    Specifically, the following sanctions have been imposed on the television channels for a period of five years:

    In this connection, the Independent Media Council notes the following.

    II. Regulation


    1. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

    Article 19

    1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

    2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

    3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

    (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

    (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

    Article 20

    1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

    2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

    2. European Convention on Human Rights

    Article 10. Freedom of expression

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

    2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

    Article 17. Prohibition of abuse of rights

    Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.

    3. Constitution of Ukraine

    Article 34. Everyone is guaranteed the right to freedom of thought and speech, and to the free expression of their views and beliefs.

    Everyone shall have the right to freely collect, store, use and disseminate information by oral, written or other means of their choice.

    The exercise of these rights may be restricted by law in the interests of national security, territorial indivisibility or public order, with the purpose of preventing disturbances or crimes, protecting the health of the population, the reputation or rights of other persons, preventing the publication of information received confidentially, or supporting the authority and impartiality of justice.

    4. Law of Ukraine On Television and Radio Broadcasting

     Article 6. No abuse of freedom by broadcasting organizations shall be allowed

    2. Use of broadcasting organizations shall be forbidden for:

    appeals to unleash aggressive wars or their propaganda and/or incitement to national, racial or religious enmity;

    other actions that could bring criminal prosecution.

    5. Law of Ukraine On Sanctions

    Article 1. Sovereign right of Ukraine to protection

    1. For the purpose of protecting national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, countering terrorist attacks as well as preventing violation and restoring violated rights, freedoms and lawful interests of Ukrainian citizens, society and the state, special economic and other restrictive measures (hereinafter referred to as “sanctions”) may be used.

    2. Sanctions may be applied on behalf of Ukraine against a foreign state, foreign legal entity, legal entity controlled by a foreign legal entity or a non-resident natural person, foreigners, stateless persons, and terrorist entities.

    3. The application of sanctions shall not exclude application of other measures to protect national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, its economic independence, and the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens of Ukraine, society and the state.

    Article 2. Legal grounds for the application of sanctions

    1. The legal grounds for the application of sanctions are provided by the Constitution of Ukraine, international agreements of Ukraine ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the laws of Ukraine, regulations of the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, decisions by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the respective principles and norms of international law.

    Article 3. Grounds and principles for the application of sanctions

    1. The grounds for the application of sanctions are:

    1) actions of a foreign state, foreign legal entity or natural persons, or other entities, that create real and/or potential threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, facilitate terrorist activity and/or violate human and civil rights and freedoms, or interests of society and the state, result in the occupation of territories, expropriation or restriction of property rights, material damages, or obstacles to sustained economic development and the full exercise of rights and freedoms by citizens of Ukraine;

    2) resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council;

    3) resolutions and regulations of the Council of the European Union;

    4) instances of violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations.

    2. The application of sanctions is based on the principles of legality, transparency, impartiality, answering the purpose and efficiency.

    3. The grounds for the application of sanctions shall also be the actions committed by a foreign state, foreign legal entity, legal entity controlled by a foreign legal entity or a non-resident natural person – foreigner, stateless person, as well as terrorist entities, as stipulated in point 1 of part 1 of this Article, against another foreign state, its citizens or legal entities.

    Article 4. Types of sanctions

    1. According to the Law, there are the following types of sanctions:

    1) blocking of assets – temporary restrictions on a person’s right to use and manage property owned by them;

    2) restriction on trade operations;

    3) restrictions, partial or complete cessation of resource transit, flights and transportation across the territory of Ukraine;

    4) prevention of movement of capital outside of Ukraine;

    5) suspension of fulfillment of economic and financial obligations;

    6) annulment and termination of licenses and other permits that must be procured (available) to conduct certain types of activity, in particular, annulment or termination of special permits for the use of subsurface resources;

    7) prohibition of participating in privatization or lease of state property for residents of a foreign state and persons directly or indirectly controlled by residents of a foreign state or acting in their interests;

    8) prohibition of using the radio frequency resource of Ukraine;

    9) restrictions on or a termination of telecommunication services and the use of public telecommunication networks;

    10) prohibition of government procurement of goods, works, and services from state owned legal entities – residents of a foreign state, and from legal entities where a portion of the statutory capital is owned by a foreign state; as well as government procurement from other business entities that sell goods, works, and services originating from a foreign state subjected to sanctions according to this Law;

    11) prohibition or restrictions on the entry of foreign civilian and military ships into the territorial sea of Ukraine, its inland waters and ports; and for entry of aircraft to the airspace of Ukraine or landing on the territory of Ukraine;

    12) complete or partial prohibition of executing legal operations related to securities issued by persons subjected to sanctions according to this Law;

    13) prohibition of issuing permits and licenses of the National Bank of Ukraine to make investments in a foreign state or to deposit currency in accounts on the territory of a foreign state;

    14) suspension of issue of permits and licenses for importing currency into Ukraine from a foreign state or exporting currency from Ukraine; and restrictions on cash payouts on payment cards issued by residents of a foreign state;

    15) prohibition for the National Bank of Ukraine of registering a participant of an international payment system where the payment organization is a resident of a foreign state;

    16) prohibition of increasing the amount of the statutory capital of business entities and companies where a foreign resident, foreign state, or a legal entity with a non-resident or foreign state shareholder owns 10 or more percent of the statutory capital or has influence over the management or work of such legal entity;

    17) implementation of additional measures in the sphere of ecological, sanitary, phytosanitary, and veterinary control;

    18) termination of trade agreements, joint projects, and industrial programs in certain spheres, in particular, in the sphere of defense and security;

    19) prohibition of transferring technologies and rights to intellectual property objects;

    20) termination of cultural exchanges, scientific cooperation, educational and sports contacts, and entertainment programs with foreign states and foreign legal entities;

    21) refusal to issue and cancellation of visas to residents of foreign states, use of other prohibitions of entry to the territory of Ukraine;

    22) termination of international agreements ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;

    23) annulment of official visits, sessions and negotiations on issues of conclusion of contracts or agreements;

    24) revoking state awards of Ukraine and other decorations;

    25) other sanctions corresponding to the principles of their application established by this Law.

    2. According to this Law, sanctions are not a means to protect the rights and interests of entities engaged in foreign trade, whose application procedures are regulated by a special law.

    3. In the event that special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions), stipulated in part one of this Article, apply to actions requiring approval for a concentration by the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, such a concentration shall be forbidden and no approval for its implementation by the bodies of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine shall be provided.

    Article 5. Application, cancellation and modification of sanctions

    1. Proposals to apply, cancel or modify sanctions shall be presented for consideration to the National Security and Defense Council, President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the National Bank of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine.

    2. The decision to impose, cancel or modify sanctions against a foreign state or group of persons in a given field of activity (sectoral sanctions) as stipulated in points 1–5, 13–15, 17–19, 25 of part 1 of Article 4 of this Law, shall be taken by the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, put into force by the President of Ukraine and approved within 48 hours from the day of the issue of the decree by the President of Ukraine by a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The respective decision shall come into force from the moment of the passing of the resolution by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and shall be mandatory.

    6. The Decree by the President of Ukraine “On the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of February 2, 2021 “On imposing personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”

    In accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution of Ukraine, I hereby decree to:

    1. Put into force the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of February 2, 2021 “On imposing personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)” (attached).

    2. Vest control over the implementation of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, put into force by this Decree, in the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

    7. Resolution by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine No. 2589-VIII of October 4, 2018 “On approving the proposals to apply personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”.

    Being cognizant of the need to responding urgently and effectively to real and potential threats to the national interests and national security of Ukraine, for the purpose of countering real and potential threats to the national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, terrorist activities and violations of human rights and freedoms of citizens by way of disseminating information propaganda;

    Proceeding from the necessity to strictly and fully ensure the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens to collect, store, use and disseminate information, protect people, society and the state from destructive information and psychological influences, protect Ukrainian society from the aggressive influence of destructive propaganda, counter propaganda of war, calls for changes in the constitutional order by force and violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, ensure the free circulation of information unless otherwise stipulated by law, foster the development of media culture and socially responsible media environment, form an effective legal system to protect individuals, society and the state from destructive propaganda, and, based on the norms of international law, create a system and mechanisms of protection against negative external information and psychological influences, primarily propaganda;

    given that the activities of the legal entities listed in Appendix 1 to this Resolution show consistent signs of following the discourse practices of Russian imperial and chauvinist propaganda, with regular instances of propaganda and spreading terrorist ideology;

    in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 and part 1 of Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine On Sanctions, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine decrees to:

    1. Approve and submit for the consideration of the National Security and Defense Council the proposals to apply sanctions to the legal entities listed in Appendix 1 to this Resolution, personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions), such as:

    1) blocking of assets – temporary restriction on a person’s right to use and manage property owned by them;

    2) prevention of movement of capital outside of Ukraine;

    3) suspension of fulfillment of economic and financial obligations;

    4) annulment and termination of licenses and other permits that must be procured (available) to conduct certain types of activity;

    5) prohibition of using the radio frequency resource of Ukraine;

    6) restrictions on or termination of telecommunication services and the use of public telecommunication networks;

    7) complete or partial prohibition of executing legal operations related to securities issued by persons subjected to sanctions according to the Law of Ukraine On Sanctions;

    8) prohibition of issuing permits and licenses of the National Bank of Ukraine to make investments in a foreign state or to deposit currency in accounts on the territory of a foreign state;

    9) suspension of issue of permits and licenses for importing currency into Ukraine from a foreign state or exporting currency from Ukraine; and restrictions on cash payouts on payment cards issued by residents of a foreign state;

    10) prohibition of transferring technologies and rights to intellectual property objects;

    11) termination of cultural exchanges, scientific cooperation, educational and sports contacts, and entertainment programs with foreign states and foreign legal entities;

    12) other sanctions in accordance with the principles of their application as stipulated in the Law of Ukraine On Sanctions.

    2. Recommend that the National Security and Defense Council take a decision on applying personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) against the legal entities, listed in Appendix 1 to this Resolution.

    ІIІ. Assessment of the compliance with international standards and laws of Ukraine

    The issue of legality, legitimacy and necessity of such measures should be considered, when deciding on whether it is legal to impose sanctions on the TV channels that are de facto controlled by Viktor Medvedchuk.

    It is obvious that imposing sanctions against the TV channels and immediately disconnecting them is the interference of the state with the right to free expression. Freedom of expression is not absolute and can be restricted, but such restrictions have to satisfy the criteria of legality, legitimacy and necessity. Specifically, when deciding on whether or not there are violations of Article 10 of the Convention, the European Court of Human Rights conducts the following three tests:

    1. whether the state’s interference with freedom of expression is prescribed by law (legality);

    2. whether the interference pursued a “legitimate aim” as stipulated in part 2 of Article 10 of the Convention (specifically, protection of the interests of national security or territorial integrity) (legitimacy);

    3. whether the interference was necessary in a democratic society (including a requirement that the interference be proportional).

    Thus, the Independent Media Council thinks it appropriate to base its analysis of the situation on the above criteria (components) of the three tests.

    1. The interference with the exercise of freedom of expression is prescribed by the law

    According to the Law of Ukraine On Sanctions, special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) may be used for the purpose of protecting national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, countering terrorist attacks, as well as preventing violations and restoring violated rights, freedoms and lawful interests of Ukrainian citizens, society and the state.

    Sanctions may be applied on behalf of Ukraine against a foreign state, foreign legal entity, legal entity controlled by a foreign legal entity or a non-resident natural person, foreigners, stateless persons, and terrorist entities.

    The law provides for the procedure of applying sanctions which includes preparing and approving the decision on sanctions by a collegiate body – the National Security and Defense Council, being put into execution by a presidential decree and being ratified during 48 hours from the date of its issue by a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada. The respective decision comes into force from the moment of its ratification by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and is mandatory.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed Decree No. 43/2021 “On the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of February 2, 2021 “On the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”, putting into force the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of February 2, 2021 “On the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”.

    The NSDC decision of February 2, 2021, was approved based on Resolution No. 2589-VIII of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of October 10, 2018, according to which, the activities of the legal entities listed in Appendix 1 to the Resolution, show consistent signs of following the discourse practices of Russian imperial and chauvinist propaganda, with regular instances of propaganda and disseminating terrorist ideology.

    The aforesaid statutory acts were duly published.

    Therefore, the possibility for the state to interfere to block these channels’ activities is prescribed by laws of Ukraine, and it was conducted in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. It is important that the lawful process of imposing sanctions actually provides for a three-level decision making procedure, involving both the executive and legislative branch bodies, which grants additional guarantees against an arbitrary and unjustified interference.

    The Independent Media Council, therefore, thinks that the interference with the aforesaid broadcasters’ freedom of expression can be regarded as prescribed by the law.

    2. The interference with the freedom of expression should pursue a legitimate aim

    According to part 2 of Article 10 of the European Convention, the exercise of freedom of expression, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others. Therefore, the freedom to expression should be restricted exclusively for the purpose of protecting the aforesaid public interests.

    The legitimate aim of interfering with the freedom of expression in the case of imposing sanctions against said television channels includes the following:

    According to the Law of Ukraine On National Security, the national security of Ukraine is secure state sovereignty, territorial integrity, democratic constitutional order and other national interests of Ukraine, protected from real and potential threats. Since 2014, the national security of Ukraine has faced quite real and considerable threats due to the occupation and annexation of Crimea and the partial occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by the armed forces of the Russian Federation. The international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation has a characteristic information component: various information operations constitute the constant and consistent practice of the Russian Federation in this conflict. It is important to note that not only Russian resources are used to spread Russian information operations, but also Ukrainian media that are de facto controlled by nominally Ukrainian political forces, financed or otherwise influenced by the Russian Federation.

    The Verkhovna Rada’s resolution of October 10, 2018 establishes that the activities of the legal entities against which sanctions have been imposed, including the television channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK “show consistent signs of following the discourse practices of Russian imperial and chauvinist propaganda, with regular instances of propaganda and disseminating terrorist ideology”.

    Furthermore, these television channels have consistently pursued the activity of denying the Ukrainian political nation the right to exist, disseminating hate speech, powerful anti-Semite narratives and incitement to hatred in Ukrainian society.

    As an expert monitoring body designed to promote professional standards for the Ukrainian media sector, the Independent Media Council has repeatedly stated in its opinions that the broadcasts of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIKconsistently contained [1]:

    Therefore, the blocking of the television channels pursued the legitimate aim of restricting the freedom of expression as stipulated in Part 3 of Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine and in Part 2 of Article 10 of the European Convention.

    3. The interference with the freedom of expression is necessary in a democratic society

    While the first two criteria of the three tests are quite easy to satisfy, much attention is paid to consider the criterion of necessity in a democratic society. For the interference with the freedom of expression to satisfy the criterion of “necessity in a democratic society”, such interference (restrictions) must meet a pressing social need and be proportional to the aim it pursues.

    As mentioned above, there were several reasons to interfere with the freedom of expression of the aforesaid television channels to pursue a legitimate aim: 1) protection of the national security; 2) protection of the territorial integrity and 3) protection of human rights. Such interference should be proportional to the legitimate aim and meet a pressing social need.

    To duly assess the proportionality and necessity to interfere with the freedom of expression of the aforesaid broadcasters, it is necessary to consider the scope and consistency of their violations of the interests of national security and territorial integrity, as well as the rights of others.

    It is worth starting with the fact that in their work, the TV channels significantly deviated from the generally recognized journalistic standards. For example, the analysis of these TV channels’ content, carried out by the NGO Detector Media in September – October 2020, showed that:

    “In the seven weeks, the nationwide monitoring identified 1,641 pieces containing pro-Russian disinformation narratives. 22% of them were aired or published on the website of the TV channel 112 Ukraine, 20% aired or published on the website of the TV channel ZIK, and 14% aired or published on the website of the TV channel NewsOne.”

    The aforesaid TV channels took an active part in creating and promoting fake news and disinformation campaigns, including those about “American laboratories in Ukraine, where the coronavirus was created”, “setting up a British military base in Mykolayiv”, “the Russian vaccine against the coronavirus that the US Embassy forbade Ukraine to purchase”, “Russian PCR tests purchased by Ukraine” and many others. During the elections campaign, they said that the government “killed oppositionists”, actually referring to only one instance of a natural death of a candidate for a village ATC. Disseminating these fake news were both the broadcasts’ heroes (politicians or political commentators) and the host journalists, imparting inaccurate facts or in no way stopping the studio’s guests as they misinformed the viewers.

    The situation is no better for these channels’ online resources. Monitoring, conducted by the NGO Institute of Mass Information, identified the following signs of breaching the criteria of the work of the media:

    “The anti-leader websites that publishing materials containing signs of paid-for content are Znai.ua (88 pieces), NewsOne (63 pieces identified in the week of monitoring, mostly in favor of Opposition Platform – For Life), 112.ua (48 pieces, mostly in favor of Opposition Platform – For Life).

    The Independent Media Council also stated in its opinions that the broadcasts by the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOneand ZIK consistently contained [2]:

    It is noteworthy that through the use of various information attacks on George Soros and related initiatives, similar to those that had already led to a significant obstruction of the activities of the Central European University in Hungary, the channels tried to arouse wider anti-Semitic sentiment in society. More details can be found in the following opinions by the Independent Media Council:

    The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine (hereinafter referred to as the National Council or the national media regulator) has repeatedly identified instances of violating national law by the TV channel TRK 112-TV and issued fines and warnings for disseminating calls to unleash an aggressive war, propaganda of war, incitement to national, racial or religious enmity and hatred. Specifically, grounds for imposing fines was a violation of part 2 of Article 6 of the Law of Ukraine On Television and Radio Broadcasting, i.e. the prohibition of broadcasting television programs containing the popularization or propaganda of the bodies of the aggressor state and their individual actions, justifying the legitimacy of the occupation of Ukraine’s territory.

    Yet, despite the negative conclusions by public media monitoring and safe-regulatory initiatives, as well as the fines and warnings issued by the National Council, the TV channels continued to consistently violate applicable law.

    In fact, on the eve of imposing sanctions on January 28, 2021, the National Council considered the audit materials regarding TRK 112-TV LLC and applied two sanctions – a warning and a fine of 25% of the amount of the license fee for airing statements containing calls for unleashing an aggressive war or its propaganda and / or incitement to national, racial or religious enmity and hatred.

    On January 14, 2021, the National Council scheduled an extraordinary check on compliance of NewsOne with law provisions on incitement to hatred.

    Therefore, the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK systematically abused the right to freedom of speech, ignored the legitimate and necessary instructions of the national regulator to bring their broadcasting in line with current laws, by disseminating and propagating the ideology of an aggressive war, xenophobia, etc. The repetitiveness and consistency in promoting the same dangerous narratives, inviting speakers to express one-sided views, and a lack of balance between the sources, positions and the guests invited to the studio indicate that such activities of these TV channels are not accidental. On the contrary, it is obvious that there is an internal, strategic approach of these TV channels to denying the Ukrainian political nation the right to exist, denying the territorial integrity of Ukraine, promulgating war and inciting hatred in Ukrainian society. These particular TV channels thus systematically conducted activities aiming to undermine Ukraine’s national security and territorial integrity, violate human rights and freedoms in Ukraine.

    Since the response measures taken by the national media regulator had no effect, with the broadcasters simply ignoring them, the state applied a different mechanism, i.e. imposed sanctions and suspended the broadcasting licenses of the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK TV. Such a mechanism seems to be an interference completely proportional to the objective, given the ineffectiveness of the other measured, used previously.

    Furthermore, according to the statements of the state bodies, imposing sanctions against the broadcasters is based, in particular, on evidence that these TV channels have long been funded by the aggressor state, i.e. the Russian Federation. The NSDC decision is based on the testimony and evidence about “the Medvedchuk pool” being funded by the aggressor state. This was stated by OP deputy head Ihor Zhovkva in a video commentary, as published by Ukrinform. “Irrefutable evidence and proof that these TV channels have long been financed by the aggressor state is grounds for blocking.”

    The Independent Media Council would like to emphasize that the ownership structure and funding sources of the TV channels ZIK, 112 Ukraine and NewsOne remain non-transparent and show signs of being fictitious.

    Since we could observe deliberate, consistent and systematic violations by the aforesaid TV channels both of the standards of professional journalistic ethics and the norms of international and national law, in particular as regards the dissemination of grave forms of hate speech, propaganda of military aggression and incitement to discrimination and violence, there is reason to assert that in this case there was the so-called abuse of rights, including the abuse of the right to freedom of speech.

    Thus, Article 17 of the European Convention provides for the prohibition against abusing of Convention rights. In Lawless v. Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights states that the purpose of Article 17 is to make it impossible to obtain from the Convention the right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention. No one shall take advantage of the provisions of the Convention to take action aimed at invalidating the aforementioned rights and freedoms. The court first applied this Article in the context of the Cold War in Communist Party (KPD) v. Federal Republic of Germany, noting that the creation of a communist order by means of a proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is contrary to the Convention.

    Therefore, in this case, the necessity in a democratic society should also be considered through the prism of an apparent abuse of rights on the part of the aforesaid TV channels, as follows from the ethical and legal analysis of their activities over a considerable period of time. Taking the above into account, the Independent Media Council regards the interference with the freedom of expression of the aforesaid broadcasters as necessary in a democratic society, also because it is the only possible way to stop violations of Article 17 of the European Convention.

    ІV. Conclusions

    In view of the above, the Independent Media Council considers that restricting the freedom of expression for the aforesaid broadcasters is lawful, legitimate and necessary in a democratic society. We are convinced that stopping broadcasts by the TV channels ZIK, 112 Ukraine and NewsOne does not pose a threat to the freedom of speech and the functioning of the country’s pluralistic media sector, nor does it in any way prevent Ukrainian society from receiving socially salient information.

    The IMC has consistently advocated the development of an independent, professional, transparent and balanced media space in Ukraine, properly protected from information operations and interference in the election campaigns by the aggressor state.

    Appendix to the Position of the Independent Media Council:

    Opinions by the Independent Media Council regarding the TV channel 112 Ukraine:

    1. Incitement to enmity on air of the TV channel “112” from September 4 to October 7, 2018

    2. Broadcasting by the TV channel “122” the documentary “Operation: Passport”

    3. Possible abuse of the freedom of speech on the TV channel “112” from September 4, 2018 to July 4, 2019

    Opinions by the Independent Media Council regarding the TV channel NewsOne:

    4. Opinion by the Independent Media Council on the program “I think so” aired on November 5, 2019 on the TV channel NewsOne

    5. The NewsOne TV channel’s broadcast of the news piece about corruption within the NBU as discussed by the United States House Committee on Financial Services

    6. Incitement to enmity on air of the TV channel NewsOne from August 31 to October 17, 2018

    7. Compliance with coverage standards during the elections and possible abuse of the freedom of speech by the NewsOne TV channel

    Opinions by the Independent Media Council regarding the TV channel ZIK:

    8. TV marathon “Smells like Soros” aired on February 28, 2020 on the ZIK TV channel/

    9. Coverage of the topic of grant receivers (the Renaissance Foundation and others) on air by the ZIK TV channel on November 13, 2020

    [1] 1) Broadcasts by the TV channel 112 Ukraine contained signs of hate speech in the statements made by certain speakers, non-compliance with the requirements for reliable, accurate and complete information when disseminating fake news in the «LIVE» programthat aired on December 15, 2018,and failure to refute such information in later broadcasts;

    2) 112 Ukraine TV channel’s failure to comply with the standards of reliable, accurate and balanced information;

    3) Incitement to national enmity and hatred by the TV channel 112 Ukraine;

    4) The program “I think so”, aired on NewsOne, contained signs of hate speech against the participants of the ATO/JFO and the Revolution of Dignity; non-compliance with the requirements for reliable information in the aforesaid program, and a persistent failure to meet the requirements for objective (impartial), complete and balanced information, considering the format of the program “I think so”;

    5) Violation by the TV channel NewsOne of the standards of accuracy, reliability and balance of the information broadcast and deliberately misleading the viewers, when broadcasting a news piece about the United States House Committee on Financial Services discussing corruption within the NBU;

    6) Incitement to national enmity and hatred during the broadcasts by NewsOne, as well as broadcasting programs made after August 1, 1991, that contained the popularization or propaganda of entities of the aggressor state and their individual actions that justify or recognize as lawful the occupation of the territory of Ukraine;

    7) Failure of the TV channel NewsOne to comply with standards of coverage during the elections and abusing freedom of speech, in particular by violating the requirements for accuracy and impartiality, imparting unverified and manipulative information, and failing to provide reliable and balanced information;

    8) The TV marathon “It smells like Soros” on ZIK TV channel contained signs of hate speech against the organizations receiving support from Western donors, incitement to xenophobia and anti-Semitism;

    9) Signs of incitement to hatred in the broadcasts by the TV channel ZIK against the organizations receiving support from Western donors, incitement to xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

    [2] 1) Broadcasts by the TV channel 112 Ukraine contained signs of hate speech in the statements made by certain speakers, non-compliance with the requirements for reliable, accurate and complete information when disseminating fake news in the «LIVE» programthat aired on December 15, 2018,and failure to refute such information in later broadcasts;

    2) 112 Ukraine TV channel’s failure to comply with the standards of reliable, accurate and balanced information;

    3) Incitement to national enmity and hatred by the TV channel 112 Ukraine;

    4) The program “I think so”, aired on NewsOne, contained signs of hate speech against the participants of the ATO/JFO and the Revolution of Dignity; non-compliance with the requirements for reliable information in the aforesaid program, and a persistent failure to meet the requirements for objective (impartial), complete and balanced information, considering the format of the program “I think so”;

    5) Violation by the TV channel NewsOne of the standards of accuracy, reliability and balance of the information broadcast and deliberately misleading the viewers, when broadcasting a news piece about the United States House Committee on Financial Services discussing corruption within the NBU;

    6) Incitement to national enmity and hatred during the broadcasts by NewsOne, as well as broadcasting programs made after August 1, 1991, that contained the popularization or propaganda of entities of the aggressor state and their individual actions that justify or recognize as lawful the occupation of the territory of Ukraine;

    7) Failure of the TV channel NewsOne to comply with standards of coverage during the elections and abusing freedom of speech, in particular by violating the requirements for accuracy and impartiality, imparting unverified and manipulative information, and failing to provide reliable and balanced information;

    8) The TV marathon “It smells like Soros” on ZIK TV channel contained signs of hate speech against the organizations receiving support from Western donors, incitement to xenophobia and anti-Semitism;

    9) Signs of incitement to hatred in the broadcasts by the TV channel ZIK against the organizations receiving support from Western donors, incitement to xenophobia and anti-Semitism.