MOSCOW (AP) — One of the most influential journalists on Ukrainian television was denied a work permit on Tuesday, authorities said.
Migration authorities said they wouldn't extend the permit for Savik Shuster, host of a popular political talk show, because he failed to inform them of a tax investigation against him.
Shuster, who was born in Lithuania when it was part of the Soviet Union, holds Canadian and Italian citizenship. With the two passports he holds, he can stay in Ukraine up to 90 days without a visa.
The award-winning journalist, who has invited representatives of all political views onto his program, accused the government of going after him for criticizing authorities.
"As it turns out this government does not tolerate any criticism," he told independent TV news station 112. "This is a threat not only for us but also to all of us, dissenting politicians and journalists who want to cover events as they are but not as (the government) wants them to look like."
In the early 2000s, Russian-speaking Shuster hosted a popular political talk show on Russia's independent NTV, which was gagged and gradually dismantled during President Vladimir Putin's first term in office.
Shuster moved to Ukraine in 2005 after his work and residence permits were revoked in Russia.
"I've been through this before — in Russia," Shuster said, vowing to defy the ban and broadcast in Ukraine even without the permit.
Shuster has denied the tax claims his production company faced earlier this year as "absolutely trumped up."
Several Ukrainians politicians have spoken in Shuster's support.
Opposition lawmaker Serhiy Vlasenko said the decision to revoke Shuster's work permit "couldn't have been taken without the knowledge of the country's leadership."