Ukraine's parliament has removed provisions from a new law that would have allowed the government to censor media it deemed a national security threat. The articles allowing censorship had been included in a draft of a bill granting the government power to enact economic sanctions on Russia, but were removed Aug. 14 before the bill's final passage, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
The move came after press groups including Reporters Without Borders criticized the censorship proposal, saying that it would have allowed Kiev to block websites and close media outlets without permission from a court. The proposal would have given the country's media regulator "exorbitant powers to order the broadest forms of censorship on the basis of extremely vague criteria and with no safeguards," said Johan Bihr, the head of Reporters Without Borders' Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, in a statement.
The final bill authorized Ukraine's government to sanction 172 individuals and 65 entities in Russia in retaliation for Russian sanctions against Ukraine and Russia's sponsorship of separatist rebels in the country.
Dunja Mijatovic, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's media freedom representative, praised the legislators for eliminating the proposed media restrictions. "By dropping them the legislators have taken a decision to protect and ensure free media and freedom of expression, rather than restricting free speech," said Mijatovic, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.