Ukraine's 'Mr. Democracy' puts the muzzle on Ukraine's free press

So what's our $111 billion to Ukraine going to?  Fighting Russia?

These days, it's going to fighting Ukraine's free press.

Get a load of what the man hailed in the states as Ukraine's Mr. Democracy, President Volodymyr Zelensky, has done, according to the New York Times on Friday:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has signed off on legislation that would significantly expand the government's regulatory power over the news media, a measure that journalists have warned could erode press freedom.

Mr. Zelensky, whose administration has been criticized for undermining press freedoms, ordered the drafting of a law increasing media regulation in 2019.

The measure was passed by Ukraine's Parliament earlier this month along with a spate of other bills that lawmakers say were intended to help the country meet the European Union's legislative conditions for membership. ...

The media regulation bill expands the authority of Ukraine's state broadcasting regulator, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting, to cover the online and print news media. It gives the regulator the power to fine media outlets, revoke their licenses, temporarily block certain online media outlets without a court order, and request that social media platforms and search giants like Google remove content that violates the law, the Ukrainian news media has reported.

This is horse hockey.  European Union membership does not require that kind of regulation, so any claim that it does is gaslighting.  What's more, the idea of regulating broadcast airwaves has a certain logic — there are only so many airwaves to divvy up, so the legislators want them a certain way.  Print and internet have no such problems, so any regulation effort is little more than straight-up censorship.  Chicoms and Putinites would nod and approve.

What's vivid here are two points: first, why the hell would Zelensky want censorship of news at all?  Presumably, it's to shut down pro-Russia voices in his country.

That raises certain questions, the foremost of which is, might that urge to censor mean that his country is less unified against Russia than he claims it is?  If that is the case, maybe he should start negotiating with the Russians to hand Russia back the eastern part of Ukraine that wants to go back.  With $111 billion rolling in from Uncle Gringo, can't have that.

The other question it raises is related: where is the money going?  Does someone not want the Ukrainian and American publics to know where that $111 billion in U.S. taxpayer aid to Ukraine is going?  Does someone not want news of Hunter Biden's or Zelensky's bank account activity getting out?  Can't have pesky reporters poking around on that front, it seems.  Is that the reason the urge to shut down the press is now the order of the day In Ukraine?

A third question: Why are we giving money to a censorship-happy regime if the supposed rationale for donating it is to head off the Russian hordes?

Over at the Cato Institute, Ted Galen Carpenter, a writer with whom I have disagreed with in the past, was rock-solid in his argument that Ukraine is not what it's painted as:

Statements from U.S. and other Western officials, as well as pervasive accounts in the news media, have created a stunningly misleading image of Ukraine. There has been a concerted effort to portray the country not only as a victim of brutal Russian aggression, but as a plucky and noble bulwark of freedom and democracy. The conventional narrative would have us believe that Ukraine is an Eastern European version of Denmark.

The promoters of that narrative contend that the ongoing war is not just a quarrel between Russia and Ukraine over Kiev's ambitions to join NATO and Moscow's territorial claims in Crimea and the Donbas. No, they insist — the war is part of a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a leader worthy of nothing less than Winston Churchill's legacy. President Biden, in his March 26 remarks on the war, said the conflict was "a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules‐based order and one governed by brute force."

So all this Mr. Democracy talk is nothing but dreck.  Zelensky isn't about democracy, not even close.  With this censorship move, Zelensky's a petty tyrant with ambitions of becoming his own Putin. But unlike Putin, who does that on his own dime, he's doing it on our dime.

Something is rotten indeed in the state of the U.S.-Ukraine alliance.  Zelensky should be told by the incoming Congress to go pound sand.

Image: President of Ukraine website via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0.

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