Ukraine war: Kremlin tries to block publication of Zelensky interview with four prominent Russian journalists


Ukraine war: Kremlin tries to block publication of Zelensky interview with four prominent Russian journalists

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It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so tragic,” said President Zelensky after the Kremlin tried to block his interview with Russian journalists

Russia’s communications watchdog has warned national media outlets against publishing an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he said Ukraine was ready to discuss adopting a neutral status on Nato as part of peace negotiations with Moscow.

Roskomnadzor said in a statement posted on its website and its Telegram channel that it was launching a probe into the outlets which had interviewed the leader, who Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously branded a “neo-Nazi” as he sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine just over a month ago.

The statement said Mr Zelensky had given the interview to a group of Russian journalists and there would be an investigation “to determine the extent of responsibility and the taking of measures of response,” The Washington Post reports.

 

In a 90-minute Zoom call with four prominent Russian journalists which was published in The New York Times, Mr Zelensky called on Mr Putin to meet in a neutral country to carry out further negotiations on a peace deal, while he also calls on Russians to “support the truth”.

He also accused Russia being inconsiderate of the lives lost on both sides as it had been slow at picking up the bodies of its own fallen soldiers.

“First they refused, then something else, then they proposed some sorts of bags to us,” Mr Zelensky said, describing Ukraine’s efforts to hand over the bodies of Russian soldiers. “Listen, even when a dog or a cat dies, people don’t do this.”

Journalists outside of Russia published the interview anyway but those inside Russia did not







“Roskomnadzor warns the Russian media about the necessity of refraining from publishing this interview,” the statement by the watchdog says. It did not give a reason for its warning.

Russian prosecutors said a legal opinion would be made on the statements made in the interview and on the legality of publishing the interview.

Commenting afterwards, Mr Zelensky said Russia destroyed the freedom of speech in its own country.

“The Russian censorship agency came out with a threat,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so tragic.”

It comes amid a crackdown on freedom of expression in Moscow as a new law has been passed banning people from publishing “fake” news on the conflict, while the invasion cannot be referred to as “war” but rather a “special military operation”. Offenders face up to 15 years in prison.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested since taking to the streets of Russia’s major cities to protest against the land, air and sea invasion of Ukraine, which started on 24 February.

Some have fled the country as they feared being imprisoned and tortured for their activism.

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