Heard in Europe

Following a raid at the Vienna house of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitro Firtash on Thursday (21 April), the future of the Ukrainian edition of Euronews appears uncertain.

Firtash bought the Ukrainian service last year. Firtash was arrested in March 2014 in Austria on US charges. He was then released after being ordered to pay €125m bail, the largest such fee in Austrian legal history. But he must stay in Vienna.

Euronews’ Ukrainian team is likely to be fired, but it seems that this is only the beginning of further trouble for the wider network.

Euronews is majority-owned by prominent Egyptian billionaire 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, 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 by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Journalists working at Euronews, who prefer to remain anonymous, complain that the channel is no longer European, and that it has adopted the anti-Western style of RT, or Russia Today, the Kremlin’s answer to Al-Jazeera.

A deal to start an African service sponsored by Congolese dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso enhances such concerns.

Suspicions are growing about the owner of Euronews Lyon’s HQ, Jean-Christophe Larose, who was cited in the Panama Papers. The trade unions at Euronews are mobilising in response. But some journalists working there compare it to the sinking Titanic.


Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia. Published under a Creative Commons licence.

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