Ukraine has expelled a journalist working for Russian state TV and banned her for three years over accusations of biased coverage.
Anna Kurbatova, who works for Perviy Kanal (Channel One), Russia’s state-owned nationwide TV channel, was reportedly accused of “biased coverage” of Ukraine’s Independence Day and for repeatedly describing the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a “civil war” rather than a “Russian aggression”.
Kurbatova’s deportation was announced late on 30 August by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) spokesperson Olena Hitlyanska, who added that the same thing will happen to “anyone who allows themselves to discredit Ukraine”. The decision has been condemned by the Russian foreign ministry as well as an official from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Harlem Desir, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, voiced his disapproval with the decision, tweeting “I call on #Ukraine not to arrest & deport journalists from other OSCE States #AnnaKurbatova.” Meanwhile the Russian foreign ministry described it as a “deliberate provocation” from Ukraine’s security service, urging the OSCE to condemn the move.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, more than a dozen Russian television channels have allegedly been banned over accusations of spreading war propaganda, while back in 2014, Kremlin-backed news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) was threatened with sanctions by UK media regulator Ofcom after being accused of breaching broadcasting regulations for its biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis.
In 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko banned two BBC journalists from Ukraine, labelling them as “threats to national security” before reversing his decision and pardonning them the next day.