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Sunday, October 23, 2016

“Inter”: between freedom of expression and the redistribution of oligarchic ownership

Its three-day blockade of the Ukrainian TV channel “inter” ended on 6 August — just after its owner Dmytro Firtash, who resigned as head of the Federation of employers of Ukraine (FEU), whose members produced 70% of the country’s GDP. About 50 right-wing militants, spent the night in tents near the entrance to the media, gathered their belongings and went, threatening that if after 5 days the “Pro-Russian” TV channel will not change its editorial policy, they will not leave him a stone. However, the Ukrainians themselves believe that this is just a cover for the next stage of the redistribution of capital between the Ukrainian oligarchs in anticipation of early elections.

Because of harsh criticism of the siege of the US and the EU Square President Petro Poroshenko was forced to turn to Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko and the Minister of the interior Arsen Avakov to take control of the situation around TV channel. Though still the day before Poroshenko has publicly accused journalists of aiding the DNR and the spread of Russian propaganda.

The next morning started for the “inter” with the fact that the militants blocked the entrance to the building two jeeps, thus completely eliminating any penetration into the building and attempt to escape from him. The television channel also issued a formal statement in which he stressed that the number of employees for the second day in their workplaces, as without them the channel would be forced to stop broadcasting. Near the besieged building lined up 20 policemen, who were supposed to prevent another fire or a fight between journalists and fighters. Also they are not allowed to channel the truck with the sand that neo-Nazis were going to use for the construction of the fence.

The turning point occurred at about 14.00, when it became clear that the police also will repel the cars away from the entrance of the channel. Fighters began negotiations with broadcasters, the results of which first said that inter needs to change its editorial policy, and the second replied: “the Hole in the donut you”. Despite this, the neo-Nazis decided not to fire journalists for the second time, and quietly go home.

On the same day it became known that the owner of “inter”, the opposition the Kiev oligarch Dmitry Firtash, lost the post of head of FRU under the pretext that he was denied entry to the Square. According to rumors, there are several possible reasons for this decision. First, Firtash can unseat his former partner and now member of Parliament and one of the leaders of the Opposition bloc Sergiy Lyovochkin, who is seen by some as one of the participants of the conspiracy against Viktor Yanukovych in 2013-2014. Liovochkin wants to gain control over inter, in which he owns 20% of the shares. On the other hand, Firtash has long sharpened tooth in the presidential administration, Levochkin which also consider as the new owner of the TV channel.

In Kiev believe that without its own media Firtash will be more difficult to protect their chemical and metallurgical enterprises of the division between Poroshenko and close to him oligarchs. “People’s front” is also not against to acquire additional media, especially because, according to his deputies, early parliamentary elections will be held in the spring of 2017, and until then you need to have time to raise the rating of trust of party at least 10%.

The latest version of “MK” confirmed the head of the Institute of global strategies Vadim KARASEV: “the national front wants by any means to take over inter, which is a powerful tool of influence on the electorate ahead of parliamentary elections. In addition, the attack by the so called Pro channel allows them to rally right-wing forces. But the fire of “inter” has attracted excessive public attention to these events, so now the “people’s front” unlikely to implement its plan; this might happen in the future.”


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