Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The owner of Kyiv Post says that it is only a temporary closure and that the paper will be relaunched bigger and better. In contrast, a statement by the employees claims that the owner tries to control the editorial line. 

For the last 26 years, Kyiv Post has been the biggest and most trusted Ukrainian media outlet in English for foreigners living in and outside Ukraine. However, that might all have changed now. Yesterday, Kyiv Post announced that they are closing “for a short time” by immediate effect, and all employees at Kyiv Post also were fired.

“God bless all of us. One day, we hope to reopen the newspaper bigger and better. I thank the entire Kyiv Post team and Brian Bonner (the now-former editor-in-chief) for his service to Ukraine and independent journalism in the past 25 years,” said the owner of the paper the businessman Adnan Kivan in a statement on Kyiv Post. 

The former employees argue that Kivan, who bought the paper in 2018, wants to relaunch the paper as a Ukrainian-language news site. Furthermore, they say that he wants to control the editorial line at the paper. In the statement, the former employees at Kyiv Post argue that Kivan has hired a new editor-in-chief and that they see this as him trying to get “rid of inconvenient, fair and honest journalists.”

“The Independent Kyiv Post has ceased to exist today, after 26 years,” reads a statement by the now-former employees at Kyiv Post issued online

Support on Twitter

The news about the closure of Kyiv Post spread quickly on social media yesterday. Several readers and former employees wrote about the importance of Kyiv Post as a critical voice in Ukraine. In addition, several current foreign correspondents in Ukraine and other post-soviet countries have worked at Kyiv Post at some point in their careers. 

“Wow. The Kyiv Post, one of the last English-language news outlets in the FSU and a place where many young foreign correspondents — myself included — cut their teeth, is closing,” wrote BuzzFeed journalist Christopher Miller, who has covered Ukraine for several media outlets for several years, on Twitter

“Saddened and deeply concerned with today’s news that the future of the KyivPost is in jeopardy. Hopeful that a resolution can soon be found and that the excellent publication will continue to be published. Free and independent media are essential for a thriving democracy,” wrote Andy Hunder, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, on Twitter

However, while most people are sad about the closure of Kyiv Post, some are arguing that Kyiv Post as an independent and critical media closed many years ago. 

“KyivPost was a highly politicized media, which let propagandists like Serhii Leshchenko publish their political assassination columns vs. Poroshenko on the title page as “articles.” This media was neither independent nor serious: despite the fact, some good journalists worked there,” wrote Sergej Sumlenny, a Berlin-based Eastern Europe expert, on Twitter

The history of Kyiv Post

It is unclear whether Kyiv Posts owner Kivan will actually relaunch the paper in Ukrainian and remove its editorial independence, as the now-former employees argue. However, the paper has had a prominent voice in the understanding of Ukraine worldwide since the American Jed Sunden founded it in 1995. 

The paper has supported democracy and Western integration and especially had a significant role as a news source for foreigners during the Maidan Revolution in 2014 and the following war in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea. 

The paper grew from working out of an apartment in a small flat in Kyiv in 1995 to a profitable business with more than 50 employees over the years. The paper also won awards over the years, such as when the staff won the University of Missouri Journalism School’s Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 2014. 

Due to its critical voice, the paper has been threatened with closure many times. Among them were attempts by the Yanukovych administration from 2010 and 2014 and a libel lawsuit against the paper by oligarch Dmytro Firtash over a story.

However, the paper has, like other newspapers today, also been faced with economic threats to its existence as well due to the decline in revenue. 

“The more you learn about the Kyiv Post, the more you realize how remarkable it is that it holds its own against these behemoths. Its newsroom budget is less than $25,000 a month. It has but 19 editorial staff; it has faced repeated attacks from regime-allied oligarchs,” wrote the journalist Oliver Bullough in 2014.