We couldn’t save the Kyiv Post. But we can save its values

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KIEV. After 26 years of independent journalism Kiev Post dead. I was there at the end.

On the morning of November 8, the editors were preparing for a Monday meeting. I was about to download the latest data on Covid-19 in Ukraine when I realized that I could not get to the site. Thinking it was a glitch, we asked the administrator to fix it.

It was not a glitch. During the meeting, our editor-in-chief, Brian Bonner, told 50 newspaper employees that we were all fired. V Kiev Post from that day there was no more. We needed to vacate the premises.

The largest and oldest English-language publication in Ukraine, Kiev Post spent the last quarter of a century covering five presidential administrations, two revolutions and one war. It has earned a reputation as one of the most independent media outlets in the country. He has trained many leading journalists who have made brilliant careers in other respected news organizations.

However, it did not survive in the possession of Adnan Kevan.

Kivan, an Odessa-based developer and tycoon, has been the newspaper’s publisher since 2018. He is also the owner of the Odessa-based Channel 7, which is not known for its editorial independence.

But there was an understanding: Kiev Post had to maintain its independence, and Kivan promised not to interfere with our reporting or editorial appointments. “There can be no democracy without independent journalism”, he was quoted as they say on the front page of our newspaper.

For some time the contract was in effect. The owner’s mood did not affect the editorial policy in any way.

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However, in recent months, the editorial office has suspected that the owner is unhappy with our coverage. These suspicions grew after Kiev Post published critical stories about Irina Venediktova, Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Thanks to Bonner’s diplomatic efforts, relations with Kevan remained warm for a while.

But on October 14, a woman named Elena Rotar posted on Facebook that the Ukrainian version Kiev Post created, which she will edit. She said she was hiring a full editorial office. The news came out of the blue for everyone in the newsroom, including Bonner.

We soon learned that Rotary was one of Kivan’s media managers who worked for his other media venture, Channel 7. She was tasked with producing the Russian and Ukrainian versions of the program. Kiev Post… My team was not against the expansion as such, but we were shocked that this decision and appointment was made and announced without our knowledge. We saw this as an attempt to undermine the editorial independence of the newspaper.

We asked that the position of the head of the Ukrainian version of the newspaper be selected through an open competition for which anyone could apply. We demanded transparency.

Again, thanks to Bonner’s diplomacy and discussions with Kevan, we thought the crisis was over. We launched the expansion process and announced new vacancies. Then we were fired.

Official statement published on the website is talking Kiev Post was stopped “for a little while”. The owner promises to restart the newspaper with a new composition and make it “bigger and better.”

We see this as an attempt to get rid of Kiev Post newsroom and replace us with nicer, more obedient writers. The team did their best to negotiate a peaceful divorce. Kevan repeatedly refused to let us leave Kiev Post brand, or sell the newspaper to a willing buyer, or even give us a transition period before the newspaper is closed.

Kevan owns a brand that has earned a good reputation for its independent journalism. For 26 years, he has exposed corruption, reporting from war zones, advocating for reform and promoting democracy. V Kiev PostRussia’s independence was his key asset. As a result, foreign embassies, diasporas, diplomatic circles and foreign readers trust us and choose us as their main source of news about Ukraine.

We do not know how Kevan will use this hard-earned reputation, but we do not believe that independent Kiev Post

The support we received humiliated me, as did the rest of the drafting team. Mass media around the world covered paper closure. Diplomatic missions called November 8 is “a sad day for Ukrainian journalism.”

Indeed, we are devastated by the fact that Kiev Post ceased to exist as it was. But we will not “gently fall into this quiet night.” If we cannot save Kiev Post, we can at least keep its values.

The editors are already working on launching new media… We will continue to publish independent journalism. During the ongoing Russian aggression and political upheavals in Ukraine, we cannot allow our country to be left without an independent English-language publication that can speak to the world. We will stay with our readers.



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