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International Press Institute sends letter to Ukrainian authorities after intimidation of journalists

by Abbey Fenbert April 13, 2024 1:50 AM 1 min read
Enlistment officers approach Ukrainian investigative journalism outlet Slidstvo.Info's journalist Yevhenii Shulhat in a Kyiv shopping mall in an attempt to give him a mobilization summons. (Screenshot of Slidstvo.Info's YouTube video published on April 6, 2024)
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The International Press Institute (IPI) sent a letter to Ukrainian authorities on April 12 urging them to investigate the "pattern of state-sponsored intimidation and harassment" of Ukrainian journalists, particularly Slidstvo.Info reporter Yevhenii Shulhat.

Shulhat published an investigation into Illia Vitiuk, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) cybersecurity chief, that led to Vitiuk's suspension. Shulhat was later targeted by enlistment officers in retaliation.

The IPI said it was "deeply troubled" by the treatment of Shulhat and called on authorities to  "conduct their own credible internal investigations into possible irregularities and abuse of power in this case."

The letter, signed by IPI Executive Director Frane Maroevic, was addressed to Prosecutor-General Andrii Kostin, SBU Chief Vasyl Maliuk, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, and Commander-in-chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksander Syrskyi.

"(W)e call on authorities to establish systemic safeguards that prevent SBU officials from targeting journalists or other critics in retaliation for their work, and protect journalists who report on possible misconduct or crimes by SBU officials," the letter said.

The IPI also addressed other incidents involving the intimidation of investigative journalists in Urkaine, including the illegal surveillance of Bihus.Info and the harassment of journalist Yurii Nikolov.

The investigative outlet Bihus.Info proved that the SBU had secretly recorded some of their staff members using drugs during a New Year's party and then published the footage to discredit the organization.

After the revelation, the Security Service fired the employees implicated in the spying operation and pledged to stand for the freedom of the press.

Yurii Nikolov, a prominent journalist, said he received a threatening visit at his home after his reporting exposed corruption in the Defense Ministry's procurement operations.

Nikolov's investigations into inflated prices for food supplies and low-quality winter jackets for the military prompted the ousting of previous Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

The IPI said these incidents "show a pattern of state-sponsored intimidation and harassment of investigative journalists in Ukraine."

The IPI is an international network of journalists and media professionals who promote press freedom around the world through direct advocacy and awareness campaigns.

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