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The first political own goal of the year – Turchynov

January 2, 2015

It didn’t take long for the first retarded/counterproductive political statement of 2015 to arrive – and it came from The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, Olexandr Turchynov, who called for the removal of the broadcasting license of the Inter TV station, after it aired New Year celebrations that included performances by artists that are persona non grata (either de facto or de jure) in Ukraine following comments and actions they have made regarding the nation during 2014.

His view, that Inter should have its broadcasting license revoked immediately having made “a mockery of the whole country“.

We are to assume that all celebrities whose actions and/or comments that have been deemed anti/detrimental to Ukraine are to be thus cleansed from Ukrainian television screens and radio?

Would, for example, MTV be forced to remove such artists from their play list?  Will all TV channels be forced to stop showing the continual reruns of Kremlin-friendly “Z-listers”, such as Steven Seagal movies?  (If so, would Van Damme, Lundgren and other god-awful Z list actors forever being broadcast in Ukraine, kindly say or do something to also be removed from our screens.)

Seemingly, the 45 million people of Ukraine are not capable of changing the television channel if there is something or somebody being broadcast they don’t particularly like.  The population are also apparently incapable of separating an artist’s performance from any personal opinions/propaganda that they may spout in the media.  The nation, it appears, need rely on the paternalistic instincts of Olexandr Turchynov and his  National Security and Defence Council when it comes to what they can or cannot, should or should not be allowed to view.

The New Year Inter broadcast was not even close to anything likely to incite or inflame Ukrainian society.  It was just the usual parade of the mostly talentless – and in some cases, intellect-less too.

In the unlikely event of Mr Turchynov (and the NSDC) actually attempting to remove the broadcasting license of Inter, he would do well to consider the ECfHR rulings relating to incitement and the media prior to any such attempt, should he wish to portray a European image, rather than a media controlling Kremlin image:

“… tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society. That being so, as a matter of principle it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance……..the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals (including journalists and politicians) to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.” –  (Chamber judgment Erbakan v. Turkey, no. 59405/00, § 56, 6.07.2006)

There are issues regarding the relationships of those that own Inter with the Kremlin security agencies for sure – but this has been known ever since the channel was bought in February 2013.

Inter

Thus this is not a surprise to anybody – it has long been known.

Indeed, Mr Firtash has connections and contacts with numerous intelligence agencies – directly and indirectly.  For example, his relationship with our “friends” from Vauxhall Cross is no secret.  That he was sat taking tea at the Foreign Office in London a few days prior to the US unsealing his indictment is also known.  That the US waited for his return to Austria before unsealing its indictment is diplomatic nicety toward London.

None of the above, however, is why Mr Turchynov will fail to win in his quest to remove the Inter broadcasting license immediately (if ever).  For him to be successful, it would seriously destabilise the power game behind the Ukrainian curtain – the 3 way chess match between Poroshenko, Kolomoyski and Firtash/Liovochkin – and it is for this reason he will fail to sink Inter for the foreseeable future.  It is certainly not in the interests of President Poroshenko to break this current structure at this moment in time – whatever the (perhaps rightful) moral outrage felt by Mr Turchynov and others.

Let us be very blunt – If President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk saw nothing to be gained by allowing the Firtash/Liovochkin partnership continued access to the Ukrainian political sphere then that access would have been denied – somehow – prior to the RADA elections in October 2014.  That Mr Liovochkin and the Opposition Block are in the RADA (and there is no denying that the Opposition Block is far more closely aligned to interests of The Kremlin than any other party sitting) displays the results of a decision to (wisely) include them.

It therefore follows, having directly included the Firtash/Liovohkin influence in national legislature, that their Inter media outlets are not about to be taken off air simply for having broadcast a New Year programme that included a string of third rate celebrities who have managed to draw the ire of much of the Ukrainian political class, together with a notable number of the Ukrainian voting constituency – woeful as those third rate celebrity performances undoubtedly were, and will continue to be.

Of course Mr Turchynov is well within his rights to express his distaste that Inter broadcast such celebrities with dubious opinions about Ukraine, to see in the New Year broadcast across the nation – as are we all equally allowed to express such distaste in a democracy.

However, that he, as an experienced politician, only very recently being appointed to the office of Secretary to the National Security and Defence Council, called for the channel to have its license immediately revoked because it made “a mockery of the whole nation” is a legally and democratically weak argument to say the least.

Prima facie it may well play to the populist cause – but in doing so it almost certainly inflicts upon him an entirely unnecessary political defeat when Inter remains on air.  Further populism is not what Ukraine needs in 2015 if it is to make genuine progress toward anything worth having in the years (and generations) to come.

Further, Mr Turchynov is very much aware of what goes on, and is going on, behind the curtain – which therefore begs the question as to why he went so far as to publicly call for the Inter license to be immediately withdrawn, instead of going no further than venting a perhaps rightfully indignant rant or two.

The first entirely needless political own goal by a major Ukrainian politician in 2015?  It appears so.

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