Zelensky signs media regulation bill, leading to fears of possible censorship

Watered-down bill still raises concerns among speech advocates.

Updated: December 31, 2022 - 5:16pm

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week signed a major media regulation bill that critics say raises the possibility of heavy censorship in the embattled nation.

The law gives increased powers to the state’s media regulator, allowing it further control over the country’s online and print media. It was passed as part of an ongoing national effort to satisfy European Union membership criteria.

Earlier versions of the bill had given the regulator more power to fine and/or shut down media outlets it deemed in violation of the law. Those provisions were relaxed as the bill made its way through the country’s parliament. 

Nevertheless, speech advocates and media officials criticized even the revised bill as insufficiently protective of free speech and media prerogatives. 

“Ukraine will demonstrate its European commitment by promoting a free and independent media, not by establishing state control of information,” European Federation of Journalists General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez said on Friday.