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PM Shmyhal rejects petition calling for telethon funds to be given to armed forces

by Elsa Court April 15, 2024 3:21 PM 2 min read
Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal talks to the media in Brussels, Belgium, on March 20, 2024. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal rejected a petition that called for the funding of the national telethon to be redistributed to the Ukrainian Armed Forces on April 15, responding that the telethon is part of the government's security and defense policy.

On the first day of the full-scale invasion, the state combined the highest-rated television channels and financed a national telethon that continues to be broadcast 24 hours a day to disseminate information in wartime.

Reporters Without Borders recently called on the government to end the telethon, warning that the continuation of the format could undermine media pluralism. Ukrainian journalists and media organizations have also come out in opposition to the format.

The government has budgeted over Hr 1.5 billion ($38 million) for the telethon and foreign broadcasting in 2024.

The petition called for the funds that finance the telethon to be instead spent on equipment like drones and pickup trucks for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"The implementation of a unified information policy is a priority issue of national security," Shmyhal responded.

Ukraine’s circuses, TV channels recognized as ‘critically important’ companies, allowing employees to defer military service
Ukraine’s Culture Ministry has recognized a number of TV channels, circuses, and other cultural institutions as “critically important” companies during wartime, allowing some of their employees to defer military service, according to decrees published on the ministry’s website.

Shmyhal said the telethon is therefore "an important component of countering the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in particular in the information space."

"Accordingly, redistribution of the expenses specified in the petition by directing them to the needs of other components of the security and defense sector is not appropriate," Shmyhal said.

The petition argued that the telethon is an information source "that does not reflect the real situation in the country and the world."

"In 2022 and 2023, Hr 2.13 billion ($53.8 million) were spent on them. For this amount, you could buy 21,515 DJI Mavic 3 quadcopters or 4,000 pickups in good condition," the petition said.

The petition received over 29,000 signatories. The government is required to respond to a petition if it is signed by over 25,000 people.

Intense fighting, lack of resources leave wounded soldiers on their own
Editor’s note: The Kyiv Independent is not disclosing the full names of the soldiers introduced in the story, as they didn’t have a formal authorization to speak to the press. DONETSK OBLAST – Mykhailo arrived at a dugout less than an hour after it was hit by Russian drones.
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