On 20 August, Ukraine had blocked access to the website of Strana.ua, one of the few left opposition media in Ukraine. Furthermore, opposition journalist Anatoly Sharij and his wife, Olga Sharij, were targeted by sanctions. In additional, there has been a proposal to take away the broadcasting license of the TV channel “Nash”.
“The Security Service of Ukraine recommended the National Security and Defense Council to impose sanctions on pro-Russian propagandists and members of the Russian secret services”, says the Security Service of Ukraine official Telegram channel.
“The Security Service of Ukraine has submitted proposals to the National Security and Defense Council to impose economic sanctions on pro-Russian propagandists and 28 members of Russia’s intelligence and special services who impose Russian narratives and facilitate the occupying power in the temporarily occupied territories.”
“Strana is one of the three largest Internet sites in Ukraine according to the SimilarWeb metric. At the same time, it is the only major site that carries an agenda that is alternative to the official one on key issues – the war, relations with Russia, the language issue, foreign interference, and so on”, said Igor Guzhva, editor in chief of Strana.ua.
“In this way, the president is preparing for the next elections”, commented Svetlana Kryukova, deputy editor in chief of Strana.ua.
There is no evidence that Strana.ua or journalist Anatoly Sharij and his wife are in any way connected to entities in the Russian Federation. Their editorial line, which has sometimes questioned the unconditionally Western course of post-revolutionary Ukraine and has often criticized Ukrainian governments, has been considered suspiciously anti-Ukrainian though.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine shall inform the competent authorities of the European Union, the United States of America and other states about the application of sanctions and raise before them the issue of imposing similar restrictive measures”, says the official text of the Order signed by the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
In February this year, 4 television channels were shut down at once, accused of spreading pro-Russian disinformation. The US Embassy and the UK Embassy expressed support for the Ukrainian government decision at the time. “The US supports [Ukraine’s] efforts yesterday to counter Russia’s malign influence, in line with [Ukrainian] law, in defense of its sovereignty [and] territorial integrity. We must all work together to prevent disinformation from being deployed as a weapon in an info war against sovereign states.”
As of the moment of writing this article, the blocking of Strana.ua and the sanctions against opposition journalist Anatoly Sharij have not been given coverage in the Western press.