Anger as TV broadcasts exclude Crimea from Ukraine map

Map of Ukraine without Crimea Image copyright UA: First
Image caption This map of Ukraine excluding Crimea prompted heavy criticism after its broadcast on Ukrainian public television

Ukrainian social media users have reacted angrily after TV channels broadcast maps of Ukraine excluding the Crimea region over the weekend.

The disputed region was annexed by Russia in 2014 but officially remains part of Ukraine.

Both the UA: First TV channel and STB TV have apologised, blaming technical difficulties.

But Ukrainian deputy prime minister Vyacheslav Kyrylenko was among several to question the errors online.

The Ukrainian public television channel UA: First broadcast a map of Ukraine excluding Crimea to illustrate a weather report during its flagship news bulletin on 16 March.

Amid heavy criticism on social media, the channel issued an apology and blamed a technical issue. The channel explained on Facebook the graphic was being prepared in a hurry when the news bulletin was already on air and that a layer in their graphics package was "accidentally turned off".

That same day, the privately owned STB TV showed a map of Ukraine missing Crimea in one of its night shows. STB TV apologised two days later, also citing a "technical error".

Writing on Twitter, Mr Kyrylenko said the two incidents looked like an orchestrated provocation "ahead of Putin's elections in Russia".

"I do not believe in such technical glitches," he wrote. "I want to see the names [of those responsible]."

His comments were echoed by many of those discussing the broadcasts online.

In one widely shared post, popular blogger Serhiy Ivanov rejected UA: First's apology.

"As a taxpayer, I don't want to support you any more," he said.

"Too many screw-ups lately. First, your presenters cheer for an occupier [Russian] athlete, now Crimea is gone.

"You should just go and shut down."

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Social media user Viktor Andrusiv declared the incident "an act of media sabotage".

"The issue of maps is very sensitive to us," he wrote on Facebook. "Why is this important? Because this is a symbol.

"The Russians are waging a symbolic war. They want the world to agree to the new map and put up with it," he added.

Others sought to downplay the incident and expressed concern for the designer at the centre of the UA: First controversy.

"It's just a mistake, calm down," one social media user commented underneath the channel's apology on Facebook.

"I'm sorry for this graphic designer who made a mistake."