Amid the ongoing Russian invasion, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has reportedly banned the activities of eleven opposition parties with ties to Russia, and has merged the national TV channels in the country under one platform.
The largest party to be targeted is the Opposition Platform for Life, which holds 44 out of 450 seats in the Ukrainian parliament and has the second-largest bloc in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament, Aljazeera noted. Most members are from the Russian-speaking eastern region Ukraine, according to Radio Free Europe. Its leader is Viktor Medvedchuk, who reportedly has a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. About 19 percent of Ukrainians support the OPFL.
In his overnight announcement Sunday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “The activities of those politicians aimed at division or collusion will not succeed, but will receive a harsh response.” Ukraine’s government imposed martial law after the Russian invasion, and the party limitations will continue for the duration. The Justice Ministry of Ukraine will enforce the decision, Zelensky said.
Less significant parties to be suspended include Opposition Bloc, Party of Sharia, Ours, Left Opposition, Union of Left Forces, State, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialist party Ukraine, Socialists, and Vladimir Saldo Bloc.
Last week, Zelensky also pulled three television networks owned by regional oligarchs that he said peddled Moscow-funded content that was hostile to Ukraine’s national interest. He said their coverage is “propaganda financed by the aggressor country that undermines Ukraine on its way” to incorporation into the European Union and the NATO alliance, Zelensky tweeted Wednesday. The outlets had been accused of propping up the pro-Russia OPFL. The EU disagreed with that move, with its foreign policy head Josep Borrell writing in a statement Wednesday: “Given the scale of disinformation campaigns affecting Ukraine including from abroad, this should not come at the expense of freedom of media.”
In addition to prohibiting Russian-tied parties from operating, Zelensky signed a decree that combines all national TV channels into one platform, according to a translation of a statement from his office, Reuters reported. The statement mentioned that a “unified information policy” under martial law is necessary given the war-time circumstances.
Private Ukrainian media companies have reportedly been allowed to keep operating since the Russian attacks began last month.
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