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Parliament summons SBU head over alleged surveillance of Bihus.Info

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 6, 2024 3:32 PM 2 min read
The Security Service (SBU) chief Vasyl Maliuk (SBU/Telegram)
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Ukraine's parliament voted to summon Vasyl Maliuk, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), following the report on Feb. 5 that one SBU department was behind the surveillance of the team of the Ukrainian investigative outlet Bihus.Info, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on Feb. 6.

News that the Bihus.Info team was under surveillance first emerged on Jan. 16, when a video appeared online showing some staff members of the team supposedly using drugs during a private party, filmed from well-placed, hidden cameras.

After analyzing the video, Bihus.Info said that its employees had been under surveillance for months and announced they would investigate who was spying on its team. Bihus.Info is known for its investigations into government and law enforcement officials.

The SBU said it opened a criminal case into illegal surveillance, and the National Police launched proceedings over the violation of privacy.

Bihus.Info reported on Feb. 5 that the operation was conducted by the SBU's Department for Protection of National Statehood. President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the head of this department, Roman Semenchenko, on Jan. 31.

The SBU issued an official comment later on Feb. 5, saying it is continuing its investigation into the surveillance.

Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said on Feb. 6 in reaction to the news that the Ukrainian government needs closer oversight over the actions of security services within the country.

Maliuska said he is "proud of the quality of the journalists' investigations" and "ashamed of the 'work' of the security services.'"

The minister noted that the parliament, the Presidential Office, and the Prosecutor General's Office have oversight over the SBU.

Maliuk released a statement later on Feb. 6, in which he said that "such actions are unacceptable and have already caused a number of personnel decisions."

"My position is unequivocal - the actions of individual employees cannot erase all the positive results achieved by the SBU during the war and cast a shadow over every representative of the Service."

"I, as the head of the SBU, will do everything possible so that every mass media can work freely in Ukraine."

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