Press release August 18, 2020
Ukraine: Law Enforcement and Policymakers Should Take Swift Action to Protect Journalists
A team of investigative journalists was previously doxxed by a member of the former Yanukovych administration, and a team member discovered possible evidence of surveillance days before an arson attack.
Following the arson of a car used by a team of investigative journalists, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Law enforcement authorities in Ukraine must do everything in their power to find those responsible for the arson of the journalist team’s vehicle and hold them accountable under the law,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “This incident appears to be the next in an escalating series of threats against the team’s anticorruption reporting. This assault on media freedom must be fully investigated. In addition, the escalation to arson demands the attention of policymakers at the highest levels, who have a responsibility to protect journalists and the media from these threats.”
On the night of August 16, a car used by investigative journalists from television program Skhemy: Koruptsiya v Detalyakh (Schemes: Corruption in Detail) was set ablaze in an arson attack. The Ukrainian Presidential Office issued a statement the next day, indicating that the attack was likely organized by subjects of the team’s investigative reporting on high-level corruption.
This is the most recent in a series of attacks targeting journalists from the program, which is jointly produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Ukrainian service and television channel UA:Pershy. On August 7, RFE/RL journalist Mykhailo Tkach discovered possible evidence of surveillance equipment in his apartment, prompting the police to open a criminal investigation for violation of privacy. In October 2019, Andriy Portnov, an official in the administration of former president Viktor Yanukovych, began doxxing Schemes staff members via his Telegram channel. Portnov first released information about a vehicle used by a Schemes driver during the team's investigations, and then shared information about vehicles used by other Schemes staff.
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