The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Government’s Department of Information ignores Zelenskyy’s message to MPs on oil exports, passports

Albert Galea Wednesday, 11 May 2022, 11:34 Last update: about 4 days ago

The government’s Department of Information on Tuesday chose to totally ignore statements made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Malta’s resistance to a total ban on Russian oil exports and on the golden passport scheme as he addressed MPs.

Instead, the DOI chose to summarise the Ukrainian President’s speech into a single sentence, and chose to focus on how Zelenskyy said that Malta’s resilience in World War Two defined the future of the Mediterranean.

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The DOI reported on Zelenskyy’s address through a Facebook post, and did not publish an official statement to the media about the session.

Zelenskyy on Tuesday addressed Malta’s parliament, where he centred his speech on detailing the horrors faced by Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion and on calling on Malta not to be used by Russians.

“Don’t allow them to abuse yourself and abuse your island, do your checks on who are Russians are trying to hide, block these people and their propaganda channels,” Zelenskyy said, in a clear reference to Malta’s golden passport scheme.

He said that it is time for Malta to block Russian real estate, bank accounts, and businesses as “these are not just businesses for them; these are entities linked to the Russian state.”

Malta has suspended golden passport applications for individuals from Russia and Belarus, although that was a decision taken only after days of heavy pressure locally and internationally.

Zelenskyy also addressed Malta’s resistance to a proposed ban on EU-flagged vessels transporting Russian oil.  Malta is reluctant to back the proposal as the government believes it would hurt the island’s shipping interests.

Zelenskyy however argued that every penny coming from the transport of Russian oil comes at a great cost: “Each euro and dollar that you can earn will be accompanied by the big losses if you cannot stop the food crisis, but also the migration crisis,” he said.

All of these points were totally ignored by the Department of Information in their short report on Zelenskyy’s address.

In a Facebook post, the Department of Information summarised Zelenskyy’s address in the following manner:

“President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy virtually addressed a plenary session of the Maltese Parliament. In his remarks, he referred to how the Maltese people’s resilience defined the future of the Mediterranean during the Second World War.”

The DOI also dedicated a sentence each to the speeches by Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech.

The DOI’s report was roundly criticised by freedom of speech advocates.

Journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia was amongst those who criticised the post, writing in the comments section: “Blatant censorship.  And we’re paying for it.  Do you think people don’t have eyes, ears and brains?”

The DOI is a government department which, according to its website, “aims to provide the public with up-to-date, comprehensive, and meaningful information on Government policies, services, and activities, as well as on matters of public interest, and to promote a proper image of the Public Service and the country.”

 

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