Ukrainian government targets media outlet for broadcasting communist leader’s message

The GolosUA media platform has been summoned by the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice for broadcasting the Victory Day message of Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) secretary Petro Symonenko

October 13, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Freedom of Press-Ukraine

On October 12, Monday, the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) slammed the decision by the right-wing government to summon the leadership of media agency GolosUA. The media outlet was summoned as directed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) for broadcasting a video message by KPU secretary Petro Symonenko on the occasion of Victory Day, on May 9, this year. The day marks the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II. The SBU has reported to the Ministry of Justice that by broadcasting the communist leader’s message, GolosUA violated provisions of the decommunization law in Ukraine.

As in the case of other East European countries with right-wing governments, decommunization laws in in Ukraine are intended to dismantle the legacies of the communist state establishments, culture, and ideology. Such laws are used to ban communist symbols and publications, raze down Soviet-era monuments, and persecute communists. 

In Ukraine, the witch hunt against communists started with the banning of the KPU in 2015 under the instigation of the previous government led by Petro Poroshenko, following the right-wing Euromaidan protests (2013-14). The policy has been continued by the current government of Volodymyr Zelensky.

In 2016, the National Council on Television and Radio withdrew the license of Gamma TV channel for broadcasting a Victory Day message by Symonenko. In August 2019, the Kyiv District Court banned the pro-communist newspaper Rabochaya Gazeta (Worker’s Newspaper), founded in 1897. The ruling was upheld by the Sixth Appeal Administrative Court in Ukraine in November 2019.

In a statement on Monday, the KPU said that in post-Maidan Ukraine, the SBU performs the functions of a political police. As per the KPU, the attack on the independent news agency GolosUA under the pretext of violating the anti-constitutional law on “decommunization” by broadcasting Symonenko’s Victory Day message is nothing more than a continuation of the state policy for the glorification of Nazism and fascism in Ukraine. It is a denial of the role of the communists and the Soviet people in the victory over Hitlerite Germany and its Euro-satellites, the party said.

“The Communist Party of Ukraine expresses its strong protest and demands an immediate end to the practice of persecuting and destroying independent media outlets that open their eyes to the crimes of the ruling regime,” the KPU said.