April 22, 2016
Following a raid at the Vienna house of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitro Firtash yesterday, and s few other episodes, the future of the Ukrainian service appears uncertain.
Firtash bought the Ukrainian service last year. Firtash was arrested in March 2014 in Austria under US charges, then was released after being ordered to pay the bail of €125m, the largest in Austrian legal history. But he must stay in Vienna.
The Euronews Ukrainian team is likely to be fired, but it seems that this is only the beginning of further trouble for the wider Euronews.
Euronews is majority-owned by prominent Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris – the leader of the “Free Egyptians Party” who also has a controlling stake in Euronews, and who uses the media for the promotion of his ideas.
Sawiris, the Egyptian billionaire who has taken a 53% stake in Euronews, says the TV channel should resist pressure from European politicians calling for western media outlets to provide a counterweight to Kremlin propaganda. He bought the controlling stake in Euronews following a visit to Egypt of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Journalists working at Euronews say the channel is obviously no longer a European channel and is not different from the Russia Today anti-Western style.
A deal to start an African service sponsored by Congo’s dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso adds insult to injury.
Suspicions are growing also concerning the owner of the Lyon’s headquarters of Euronews Jean-Christophe Larose, cited in the Panama Papers.
The trade unions at Euronews are mobilising, But some journalists working there compare it to the sinking Titanic. Too bad for Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who watches Euronews all night long.Georgi Gotev