UATV’s Last Broadcast Day
January 12, 2020, is the last day for English news at UATV. The Ukrainian government has decided to shut down international broadcasting, and to close the Arabic, Crimean Tatar, and English language departments. Over the past three years, the English news service team here at UATV had a common aim of delivering real and truthful news about Ukraine. We would be happy to say "to be continued," but instead we bring you the final story this hour
Dozens of Russian state media channels and propaganda outlets broadcast to the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine as well as other parts of Donetsk and Luhansk.
UATV news channel was one of the few outlets available from the Ukrainian side over the occupied area. It was watched both by soldiers and civilians.
“Those soldiers who watched us at the front line did not pay attention to the language of our broadcasting. Some of them even watched news in English. There are many soldiers fluent in English,” UATV correspondent Ihor Medelian said.
When the channel was launched on October 1, 2015, it broadcast in Ukrainian, Russian and English. Later, it expanded and launched Arabic and Crimean Tatar editions.
Over the course of four years, UATV was connected to almost 400 cable networks and broadcast to nearly 30 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
“The concept of UATV was to convey information about what’s really happening in Ukraine to the world, in particular, Arabic speaking countries. That it’s not a civil conflict in Ukraine and not some disagreements between politicians. That it’s real aggression by Ukraine’s neighbor country,” News Presenter of UATV Arabic, Safwan Jolak said.
“One of the most exciting and newsworthy moments that I can remember is what happened in the Kerch Strait, when the Russian Navy attacked and captured Ukrainian vessels and Ukrainian sailors. We were the first to get commentary from Ukrainian officials. In English — to the world,” UATV English News Editor Zachary Nelson said.
UATV’s war correspondents covered exclusive stories from the front line in eastern Ukraine. They reported about the lives of those who returned from the front line. Along with Ukrainian veterans, Anastasiia Fedchenko conquered Hoverla, the country’s highest mountain.
“You can see the military that climbed the highest peak of Ukrainian Carpathians, which is 2,061 meters above the sea. Though they have prosthetic legs. I shared the truth with the world. That Russia unfolded the war against us. The Russian aggressor invaded the territory of Ukraine,” Anastasiia Fedchenko said.
“British instructors that I spoke to last year, they said, actually, they were learning from the Ukrainian soldiers. So, it’s not just them teaching Ukrainians. It’s also the other way round,” UATV English News Editor Tom Bell said.
UATV’s Parliamentary correspondents covered firsthand the most important sessions.
“You can’t even imagine what an honor it was for me to report, in particular, to our Russian audience, about the voting of the Ukrainian Parliament for the official military greeting. As the Russians call it the ‘Nazi’ slogan: ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ I had goosebumps when the MPs were voting for it,” UATV Russian correspondent Olha Mykhailiuk said.
Commenting on this very parade became a real challenge for UATV English News Presenter Oles Gardzhuk.
“It was live! The parade was lasting for about three hours. I was sitting in a dark room for three hours with my microphone being switched on the whole time. I couldn’t drink. I couldn’t have a sip of water. I couldn’t breath loudly. I couldn’t cough. But I wanted to!” UATV English News Presenter Oles Gardzhuk said.
This was not the only challenge Oles recalls. Last year, at the Ukraine Reform Conference in Canada, he and his colleague Antonina Antosha conducted over 30 interviews in just two days.
Another news anchor, Kari Hiepko Odermann, had a chance to interview the US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
“The three amigos are Secretary Perry, again Ambassador Volker, and myself. And we’ve been tasked with sort of overseeing the Ukraine-US relationships,” Sondland said.
Eventually, this interview was quoted by CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
“The question I asked seemed like a very innocent question: ‘What brings you to Ukraine?’ It was his answer and his choice to share with us that President Trump had given him the mandate to be a special envoy of sorts here in Ukraine, that then became very, very relevant in the depositions leading up to the impeachment [of US President Donald Trump],” UATV English News Presenter Kari Heipko Odermann said.
UATV stops updating news on January 13th. Instead, the Ukrainian government decided to launch a new TV channel for the occupied territories.
“I clearly understand that I do not want to say goodbye to our audience. I only say: ‘See you soon!’ Because I am sure that each of the viewers appreciates what we are doing,” Head of UATV Crimean Tatar language Khalise Zinedin said.
“Without UATV and without English language content about Ukraine going out to the world from Ukraine, you could potentially have aggressive narratives from aggressive countries being put out about Ukraine. That’s what I don’t want to happen,” Zachary Nelson said.
Thanks for watching.
The whole UATV team.