Former Ukrinform head sends blacklists to editorial board, staff refuses to use them

Oleksiy Matsuka
Oleksiy Matsuka

Former head of the state news agency Ukrinform, Oleksiy Matsuka, sent the editorial board “blacklists” with unwanted speakers, but the staff refused to use them, NV's sister publication Ukrainska Pravda reported on May 29.

Matsuka personally sent "blacklist" files to regional editorial offices with recommendations on what topics correspondents in oblasts should cover, who should be interviewed, and who should not be interviewed, according to Ukrinform's sources, in early December 2023.

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Journalists said they had managed to familiarize themselves with the documents sent by the former agency director general.

Almost every file contained a column titled “bad speakers” with a list of people, organizations, and local politicians whose comments should not be used. The general trend observed in all documents was that the “bad speakers” included figures opposed to the government.

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But these “blacklists” did not work.

“When Matsuka found out that the ‘dark letters’ had been distributed throughout the agency, not just among regional correspondents, he was scared," said one of the journalists at the agency.

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"At first he denied everything, then he said that he had sent only two columns (with topics and speakers), and that someone else had added the third (with “unwanted speakers”). After a while, he ordered the regional editors to make materials with all the “undesirable speakers."

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During the conversation, people from the Presidential Office's media team denied any involvement in the appearance of the “blacklists” in Ukrinform. Matsuka refused to answer questions about where he got them.

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On May 24, it became known that Oleksiy Matsuka was leaving the agency.

“Colleagues, I am finishing my work at Ukrinform," he said. "Thank you all for the wonderful months of productive work. It was not easy, but it was all for the sake of victory. Thank you again for the invaluable experience."

Matsuka had been in office since Nov. 9.

Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Urainian Armed Forces, became the new director general of Ukrinform.

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