Tuesday was the last transmission of popular Ukrainian television channels Ukraine, Ukraine 24, Football, and others, as Ukraine’s wealthiest man, Rinat Akhmetov, decided to close the doors on all his media holdings, rather than fight new legislation that was targeted at eliminating him from the media sphere.
As late as Friday, some Ukraine 24 employees contacted by the Kyiv Post believed that their jobs would remain in-tact, and that the SCM Holdings would go to an online format or be broadcasted from abroad. However, that was not the case.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, Ukraine and Ukraine 24 employees gave tearful farewells during broadcasts and on social media.
A law passed by the current Parliament forbids “oligarchs” from owning media holdings and seemed to be especially directed at Akhmetov’s SCM Holdings.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC), said on Wednesday that based upon the current law, 86 people in Ukraine could be defined by the law as being “oligarchs,” or persons of “excessive political and economic influence.”
Today, the website for Ukraine 24 leads with a splash page of text in Ukrainian and a photo of Akhmetov. The text reads, in part, “I made a forced decision to exit my investment company SCM from the media business. This week, ‘Media Group Ukraine’ will give up all broadcast and satellite television licenses of our channels and licenses of our print media in Ukraine in favor of the state. We will also stop the activities of the MSU online media.”
Akhmetov continued that he had invested over $1.5 billion into his media holdings and that the short period between the passage and enactment of the law made the sale of the channels’ assets impossible. The businessman also lamented that around 4,000 journalists and media professionals would be forced out of a job and that the 10 broadcast and satellite channels, which had begun operation 22 years ago, would all be gone.
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