Ukrainian authorities ban talk show host

Ukrainian authorities ban talk show host

A talk show host critical of President Vladimir Zelensky has been barred from entering the country for three years.

Savik Shuster, a veteran journalist in Ukraine, has been blacklisted by the government. The news agency Strana claimed on Thursday that Kiev has instructed border guards to prevent Shuster from entering the country.

The Ukrainian authorities said the ban was imposed under wartime emergency powers and will last for at least three years.

The instruction is not to let him in because he is a foreigner, with no further explanation, the source said.

The claim was disputed by Shuster's studio, while the Ukrainian authorities didn't want to comment on it.

Shuster, born in Lithuania while he was still the Soviet Union, has the citizenship of Canada, where his family moved in 1971, and Italy, the home country of his former wife. He started his journalistic career in the 1980s and worked for the Munich-based branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. In the mid- 1990s, he moved to Russia.

In the mid-2000s, Shuster left Russia for Ukraine and became a fixture of the country's media landscape, mostly as the host of a political talk show. His career in Ukraine ended in 2016 when TV personality claimed that then-president Pyotr Poroshenko had been persecuting him for political reasons and moved to Italy.

In 2019, he returned from self-exile to bring his talk show to the Ukraine 24 TV channel. He gave a platform for many speakers who had been critical of President Vladimir Zelensky, who infamously accused Shuster of serving oligarchs and destabilizing Ukraine during a Q&A session last November.

The outlet that aired Shuster's program was banned in July amid Zelensky's crackdown on media outlets that his government deems to be pro-Russian or subservient to oligarchs. The 69-year-old resides in Italy again.

Last month, Ukrainian media outlets reported that Zelensky had issued a secret order that revoked the Ukrainian citizenship of several people, including politician Gennady Korban, an ally of the mayor of Dnepr Boris Filatov. At the time, Korban was not in the country and blindsided by Zelensky's order, as border guards refused to let him enter when he tried to return. The existence of the order was confirmed by the government.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the reported ouster of Shuster from Ukraine fits the pattern of persecution of critical journalism and public figures under Zelensky, which she branded Western liberal dictatorship with a Kiev snarl.