Over the next six months, a reformatting of the media space is expected in Ukraine. Already in May 2022, a law will come into force, according to which one of the criteria for recognizing a person as an oligarch will be his significant influence on the media. This, according to the president’s team, will force some businessmen to get rid of media assets in Ukraine. Thus, Zelensky and his entourage decided to compete with the oligarchs for influence, primarily over the TV channels that play an important role in the presidential elections and the Verkhovna Rada. But the presidential team seems to have lost this fight long before it began.

Remote for Zelensky

Someone, but Volodymyr Zelensky understands the power of the media very well. Especially television. If it were not for the Servant of the People series and the Kvartal 95 Studio programs on the popular 1 + 1 TV channel, Ukraine would hardly have received a comedian as president. On weekends, the showman was supported by TV channels Rinat Akhmetov, Viktor Pinchuk and Dmitry Firtash at the finish line of the presidential election.

Sergey Rudenko

With this in mind, Zelensky, dreaming of a second presidential term, decided to change the rules of the game for the oligarchs in the media space. The desire of the current president of Ukraine to control the country’s media space is understandable. It is the oligarchs who will largely determine the fate of the 2024 presidential election. It is unlikely, of course, that the anti-oligarchic law will allow Zelensky’s team, with the help of the NSDC, to put the remote control from the “TV” in their pocket. But to come to an agreement with its owners is quite possible. Unless, of course, the oligarchs unanimously decide to “merge” Zelensky – as has happened more than once with presidents in recent Ukrainian history.

Will Poroshenko become the # 1 oligarch in Ukraine

In addition to the desire to control everyone and everything in the media, Zelensky’s anti-oligarchic law pursues another goal: to assign the status of oligarch No. 1 to the current president’s main opponent, Petro Poroshenko. His fortune is estimated at $ 1.6 billion, followed by big business and the parliamentary party “European Solidarity”. True, on the day Zelensky signed the anti-oligarchic law, Poroshenko demonstratively got rid of his media assets – the Pryamaya and 5 Channel TV channels. From now on, they belong to the Free Media media holding, which was owned by journalists, public figures and opposition MPs who were journalists.

Yes, television in Ukraine is a costly and costly business. The desire of the newly-minted owners of the Pryamoy and Channel 5 TV channels is not enough to support them. I am sure that Zelensky’s team will make every effort to prove that both Pryamaya and Channel 5 are funded from one pocket – Petro Poroshenko. Then it’s a matter of technology, how through the NSDC to pass a decision on recognizing the fifth president as the oligarch No. 1 in the country. And for this, as evidenced by the practice of the current government, it is not always necessary to have strong evidence and follow the letter of the law.

Zelensky vs guys from the 90s

Starting an anti-oligarchic campaign, Zelensky did not take into account one thing: Kolomoisky, Akhmetov, Pinchuk and others survived the dashing 90s and five presidents of Ukraine. Their lawyers, like seeds in the courts, will be ready to click all the norms of the law on the status of oligarchs. They will sell and buy their property, including the media, three times through second or third parties in offshores, and by May 2022 they will sadly declare their bankruptcy. It is not worth expecting that people who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in media will simply surrender to Zelensky.

It should be noted that the President’s Office has long been trying to control the media space in Ukraine. True, he does it awkwardly. In January 2020, Zelenskiy’s team already tried to change the existing media legislation, which drew sharp criticism from journalists. In the last month alone, the Office of the President was twice accused of pressure on the press – from the public broadcaster UA: Pershy and the staff of the English-language newspaper Kyiv Post. The release of the latest project, which has more than 25 years of history, was suspended this week. And this is connected, according to the editor-in-chief of Ukrainska Pravda, Sevgil Musayeva, with pressure on the owner and journalists from the President’s Office.

Yes, large Ukrainian TV channels are so far trying not to upset viewers with bad news about President Zelensky. But all this – for the time being. Exactly until the situation in the country suits the media owners. But just one click of the owners of the TV channels will be enough to collapse the rating of the current head of state. Fortunately, there are enough topics for this – corruption in the environment of the first person, Wagnergate, presidential offshore companies and much more. Starting the war for “TV”, Zelensky’s team is already doomed to defeat. It is surprising that the person who has taken place thanks to this very “television” does not understand this.

Author: Serhiy Rudenko is a Ukrainian journalist and political columnist. He published several books about Ukrainian politicians. Written a weekly column on DW. Sergey Rudenko v Facebook: Sergey Rudenko.

The commentary expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion Russian edition and German wave v the whole.

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