Ukraine war: media policy and censorship

War is also a battle for public opinion. To prevent Russian propaganda in the West, the EU wants to ban Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting. For its part, the Kremlin is banning independent broadcasters in Russia and tightening its media laws. Without equating the scope of censorship, media in eastern and western Europe appeal for freedom of opinion.

Open/close all quotes
Denik (CZ) /

If we want freedom we must put up with lies

The Czech Republic has shut down several pro-Russian internet platforms for alleged incitement. Not the right decision, in Deník's judgement:

“Can pro-Putin views and false news endanger our security? No. The vast majority of our population condemns the attack on Ukraine. People are helping in droves. Can a few trolls change that? ... Endorsing aggression is a criminal offence. This, however, does not mean that it's right to silence platforms that publish such endorsements. Freedom of expression is one of the most valuable assets of democracy. ... If we want freedom, we must also put up with lies. We must just be careful not to believe them.”

Cicero (DE) /

A dangerous breach of taboo

Banning Russian state media in the EU is simply wrong, Cicero insists:

“Such a ban would be a flagrant violation of the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. And on top of that it would constitute a breaking of a taboo with far-reaching consequences for the pluralism of opinion in our societies. ... Once you resort to censorship to control public opinion - no matter how honourable your motives may be - there is a good chance that you will do it again sooner or later. But the next time, or perhaps the time after that, it would no longer concern media solely used for propaganda but potentially also those that refuse to accept certain narratives declared as 'truth' by those in power in public debate, even though they are actually only opinions.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

Refute fake news, don't ban it

Broadcasters like Echo of Moscow and Dozhd, which are critical of the Kremlin, are no longer allowed to broadcast in Russia. A new law will punish the 'distortion of the goals, role and mission of the armed forces'. Opposition politician Boris Vishnevsky criticises the censorship in Novaya Gazeta:

“I say to those who fight 'fake news': If you see it, then expose it. Show the whole world who is distorting the truth about what is happening in the 'special operation' and how. With facts in hand and verified evidence, in the same way many Russian and Western media exposed Russian state propaganda stories about the 'crucified boy' [in the Donbass conflict] and the 'Ukrainian fighter jet' [as the culprit in the downing of flight MH-17] and many others. But simply banning them - you have no right to do that.”

Politiken (DK) /

Appeal in Russian in Danish newspaper

Politiken addresses the Russian people in Russian on its front page and in its lead article:

“The sanctions that are now isolating and impoverishing Russia will make life difficult for you. The goal is not to hit the Russians but to help Ukraine and its people. The West's hand remains extended to the East. Also towards Russia. We say no to President Putin's bloody aggression. We say yes to Russia and the people who do not deserve Putin and his murderous and despotic autocracy. And as a Danish newspaper, we say yes first and foremost to real and honest information about the heinous war into which your president has plunged Ukraine and the rest of Europe.”