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Journalists resign after pro-Russia MP buys Ukraine channel

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Kiev, Ukraine Jun 15, 2019, 05.43 PM (IST)

A Ukrainian MP with ties to Russia has bought a national Ukrainian news channel, prompting a round of resignations from journalists who fear his ownership will mean coverage influenced by Moscow.

Taras Kozak of the pro-Moscow party "Opposition Platform" already owned two national TV stations before he took over the channel ZIK this week.

Kozak is a close ally of politician Viktor Medvedchuk, a controversial figure in Ukraine because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin while Kiev is fighting a Moscow-backed separatist war.

Journalist Roman Nedzelskiy, one of five journalists to resign from the channel along with its CEO, said Medvedchuk now essentially controls ZIK. 

"Tomorrow I will be on the air with the last broadcast of the weekly show 'Details' and then I will start looking for a job," he said on Facebook late Friday.

"Medvedchuk is an enemy of my country, a murderer of both the past and the future," his colleague Vakhtang Kipiani wrote as he announced his resignation.

Mustafa Nayyem, a Ukrainian MP, wrote on social media that the takeover would be a challenge for new President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

"It is difficult to say which is worse -- a Russian tank on the demarcation line or a broadcast holding... belonging practically to a relative of Vladimir Putin". 

Medvedchuk claims Putin is godfather to one of his daughters.

Ukraine is locked in a five-year conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country that has claimed over 13,000 lives.

Story highlights

Taras Kozak of the pro-Moscow party 'Opposition Platform' already owned two national TV stations before he took over the channel ZIK this week.