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Illia Vitiuk, the chief of the cyber security department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). (Ukrainian Security Service)
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Illia Vitiuk, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) cybersecurity chief, has been suspended pending the consideration of the investigative outlet Slidstvo.Info's revelations, Interfax-Ukraine reported on April 9, citing a statement from the SBU's press service.

According to a recent investigation by Slidstvo.Info, Vitiuk's wife started making big earnings after her husband was appointed to the job, and bought an apartment in a premium residential complex in Kyiv below the market price.

The outlet said that its journalist who led the investigation, Yevhenii Shulhat, was later targeted by enlistment officers in retaliation.

The enlistment office employees who approached Shulhat last week in a Kyiv shopping center and accused him of evading military service were allegedly accompanied by an SBU official from Vitiuk's department, Slidstvo.Info said on its YouTube channel.

"For the duration of the inquiry into the circumstances disclosed by Slidstvo.Info journalists, the head of the SBU, Vasyl Maliuk, suspended... Vitiuk from his official duties," the SBU's press service told Interfax-Ukraine.

The security service said that for the period of his suspension, Vitiuk would serve in combat and had already left for the front earlier today.

"The SBU wishes to express respect for the media and journalists for their joint work on the information front against Russian aggression," the statement read.

The Prosecutor General's Office announced on April 8 that it had opened a criminal investigation into possible abuse of office and obstruction of a journalist's professional activities by the SBU employees and military enlistment officers following the incident.

The SBU said that it was also looking into the matter in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

This is not the first case of Ukrainian journalists accusing the SBU of pressure against the free press. Another investigative outlet, Bihus.Info, revealed in January that they had been illegally surveilled by an SBU department for months.

Bihus.Info proved the SBU was secretly recording some of their staff members using drugs during a New Year's party and then published the footage to discredit the outlet.

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

Mere days before the Bihus.Info scandal, two unidentified men approached the apartment of another prominent journalist, Yurii Nikolov. The men were aggressively banging on his door, demanding the journalist to open the door and talk to them, calling Nikolov a "traitor" and accusing him of evading military service.

Nikolov is known for his earlier investigations revealing corruption in Ukraine's public procurement.

Recent campaigns against journalists raise concerns about press freedom in Ukraine
Investigative journalists in Ukraine came under two attacks in just the past week, one involving a threatening home visit and another using covert surveillance. The two incidents are the latest in a series of discrediting campaigns against independent Ukrainian media, often supported by anonymous p…
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