KievThe Kyiv Post, the oldest and most internationally known English-language newspaper in Ukraine, has been closed with immediate effect. The newspaper’s editors learned the news when they got to work Monday morning and was told it was their last day in the office. The staff now speak of the closure as an “act of revenge” by the owner of the newspaper for its defense of editorial independence.

Around 50 employees will now lose their jobs, many of them with immediate effect. In a statement posted on the Kyiv Post website on Monday, publisher Adnan Kivan said the newspaper would be “only closed for a short time”. “God bless us all. We hope that one day we can reopen the newspaper bigger and better, ”said Kivan. He also thanked the entire team at the newspaper and the editor-in-chief Brian Bonner, who is now retiring after ceasing to operate the newspaper and preserving its archives.

Bonner, who had led the editorial team since 2008, thanked Kivan “for his strong support since he bought the newspaper”. The editorial team of the newspaper found completely different words to say goodbye. In a statement published on social media, the Kyiv Post authors said they saw the closure of the newspaper as an attempt by Kivan to “get rid of inconvenient, fair and honest journalists.”

Three weeks ago, Kivan informed the editorial staff of his plans to expand the work of the Kyiv Post, primarily with the establishment of a Ukrainian-language publication under the same name, of which he would appoint himself editor-in-chief. “We saw considerable risks in the expansion format chosen by Adnan Kivan,” said the editorial team. “We saw it as an attempt to violate our editorial independence.”

The dismissal of employees is an act of revenge.

Excerpt from the open letter from the Kyiv Post employees

The editors’ vocal rejection of these plans “provoked opposition from our owner,” the staff said. “We consider the suspension of the newspaper and the sacking of its employees as an act of revenge on the part of Adnan Kivan.”

Now editorial staff believe that Kivan will continue his plans to “restructure” the Kyiv Post and resume operations in a month with a new team. With that he resigned from his promise to guarantee editorial independence, which he had given in an interview with the editor-in-chief Bonner after buying the newspaper.

The Kyiv Post’s coverage has often been critical of powerful Ukrainian oligarchs and political leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky. That year alone, the revelations in the Pandora Papers about Zelensky’s offshore finances and the shutdown of three pro-Russian television networks that pushed radio and television ownership into the hands of a few oligarchs became major front-page themes.

The newspaper and its employees are proud of their editorial independence – and of the fact that they have defended it again and again. In 2011 the editor-in-chief Bonner was fired for the publication of an interview with the then Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, which appeared against the wishes of the then owner, the British businessman Mohammad Zahoor. The editorial team went on strike because of the dismissal and Bonner was reinstated after five days.

The owner made his living trading metals

The Kyiv Post was founded in 1995 as a weekly newspaper by the American publisher Jed Sunden. Adnan Kivan, a Syrian businessman and Ukrainian citizen, bought the newspaper for $ 3.5 million in 2018. He made his living in metals trading in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, but his business interests are now mainly in the construction industry and agriculture . He is also the owner of the Odessa-based television channel Channel 7.

Employees have asked Kivan to allow them to continue their work as an independent editor, sell the newspaper to another owner, or transfer the rights to the Kyiv Post brand to them. So far, Kivan has rejected these demands. “We call on our readers and advertisers, business people, diplomats, international organizations and anyone else who believes in independent journalism to support us,” her statement ends.

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