26 March 2021

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, Moscow, March 26, 2021: new anti-Russia sanctions in Ukraine

For a while now Brussels has been a co-sponsor of all the “changes” that are taking place in Ukraine, and given that Brussels is supporting the Kiev regime in everything that is presented as a move towards Western values and the foundations of democracy, it could have responded (at least publicly) to the fact that on March 23 of this year, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky put in force the decision of the Ukrainian Council of National Security and Defence to introduce sanctions for three years against 26 Russian citizens, 81 Russian companies and a number of Russian media outlets. The latter include the Rossiya Segodnya news agency, the news websites Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru, plus some news aggregators.

I have the impression that by taking these measures, the Ukrainian regime is researching “the bottom” of democracy in Ukraine. The problem is that these restrictions include the blocking of assets, the limitation or suspension of telecommunication services and the use of telecommunications networks in general. Internet providers are also banned from providing users with access to the above resources.

This new set of sanctions has supplemented the already alarming statistics of the past month when over 400 internet resources and seven television channels were shut down. In other words, the striving for democracy in Ukraine has a clear tendency towards decline. We consider such moves to be at variance with the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and pluralism of opinion. They also contradict the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Probably, Ukraine will soon impose a ban on reading this document because it will be clear to anyone who reads it that Ukraine is moving in the opposite direction.

We see this as the continuation of Kiev’s line on imposing censorship, clearing its information space from objectionable media, discriminating against Russian speaking citizens in their country, and intimidating all dissidents and those who object to what is happening in Ukraine.

Let me recall that since 2014 when the coup took place in Kiev, as a result of which Ukrainian leadership decided to sever all ties with Russia, Ukraine has already conducted several campaigns on restricting Russian and a Russian language presence on its territory. By different estimates, Ukraine has imposed unlawful sanctions on about 2,300 individuals and over 1,000 companies from Russia. I would also like to remind you that Kiev considers institutions like Moscow State University, the Hermitage State Museum, and the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, to name a few, objectionable.

To justify its onslaught on alternative information sources, Kiev has reformed Ukrainian legislation. It was an obstacle, so it was changed. The already adopted legal documents and those that are still being drafted contain obvious discriminatory provisions, but Kiev is getting away with all of this. Brussels is busy with its own approach; it is spending time on illegal unilateral sanctions against Moscow and disseminating myths about some kind of Russian threat.

In this latest example, since March 23, we have not seen any response to Ukraine’s unlawful restrictions from representatives of agencies that monitor freedom of the media and human rights in the OSCE, UN, Council of Europe or UNESCO.

We urge the international community to give up this policy of not just double standards but the refusal to take effective measures against this obvious onslaught on democratic principles and give an unbiased assessment to the numerous cases of murder, intimidation and criminal prosecution of dissidents and other forms of harassing journalists in Ukraine. For our part, we are certainly sending all relevant materials to the above international agencies and will continue doing so in the future.