Ukraine's wealthiest man gives up media empire
On Monday, Ukrainian entrepreneur Rinat Akhmetov announced that all the TV and print licences of Media Group Ukraine will be transferred to the state and that the company's online media operations will be discontinued. Media Group Ukraine owns eleven TV stations, the news site Segodnya.ua and the online TV service OLL.TV. The move was provoked by the threat of Akhmetov being included in the oligarch register. Ukrainian commentators voice concern.
An understandable step
Svetlana Kryukova, editor of the opposition portal Strana, which is blocked across Ukraine, writes on her Facebook page:
“According to my conservative estimates, Akhmetov's media holding cost him up to 100 million dollar per year in peacetime. After [the outbreak of] the war much less, but it was still expensive. ... Imagine being an oligarch who pays millions for a media outlet without determining its editorial policy. ... Today, in the situation of military censorship and the united marathon race, the influence of the media on the political agenda is minimal. An expensive media group is therefore worthless to an oligarch.”
Moving towards enforced conformity
Vyacheslav Azarov, a blogger from Odessa who considers himself an anarchist, warns on his Facebook page:
“It is likely that other media magnates will follow Akhmetov's example in order to avoid being put on the list of oligarchs and having to deal with the associated sanctions. After that, all political advertising will be under the control of the authorities, making it as difficult as possible for even [moderately] oppositional parties to enter parliament.”