Local media silenced in eastern Ukraine

AFP reports: Fiddling angrily with the radio in his car, Donetsk resident Oleksandr exclaims: “This is unbelievable! There used to be a Ukrainian radio station on this frequency, now it’s Russian!”

In Ukraine’s restive eastern region of Donetsk, where separatists are in control of several areas and have declared a “People’s Republic”, local media are being shut down, taken over and intimidated.

The pattern is always the same, said Sergei Garmash, who runs the local news website Ostrov: “Armed men have gone to the headquarters of media outlets — including ours — and demanded that programming be coordinated with them.”

And if the outlet refuses? The men threaten to “shut it down”, Garmash said.

Here in Donetsk the wider information war between pro-Moscow and pro-Kiev media over coverage of Ukraine’s crisis is playing out at the local level.

After taking over local media, the well-armed rebels have dismissed journalists, blocked access to offices and cut signals to Ukrainian stations — which are quickly replaced by Russian ones.

There have also been reports of abductions, equipment seizures and break-ins as the separatists seek to silence opposition to their efforts to bring eastern Ukraine into Russia. [Continue reading…]

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