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Ukraine's prominent investigative journalist Nikolov says he faced threatening home visit

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 15, 2024 7:52 PM 3 min read
Ukrainian journalist Yurii Nikolov (Facebook)
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Yurii Nikolov, one of Ukraine's prominent investigative journalists who revealed procurement wrongdoing in the Defense Ministry under its previous leadership, said on Jan. 15 that he received a visit from unidentified people threatening him.

Nikolov, a co-founder and an editor of the Nashi Hroshi investigative media project, is known for articles exposing corruption in Ukraine's public procurement.

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.

At least two unidentified men approached Nikolov's apartment late on Jan. 14, aggressively banging on his door and verbally attacking him, the journalist said on Facebook.

Nikolov added that only his elderly mother was at home at the moment of the visit. According to the journalist, just fifteen minutes later, a post with footage from the scene appeared on the anonymous Telegram channel Kartochnyy Ofis, allegedly linked to the Presidential Office.

The video shows a man knocking on a door pasted with papers with the words "traitor, (military service) evader," and other verbal attacks, demanding that somebody open the door. The voice of another man, also knocking on the door and shouting aggressively, is heard in the video.

The Telegram post says they were "soldiers who went back from the front line and decided to give a military summons" to Nikolov, but the journalist told the Kyiv Independent that the men did not leave a summons or any official document.

"In no case were they representatives of the state since they left behind only pieces of paper on which it was written with a felt-tip pen that I was scum and a Kremlin bit*h," Nikolov said in a comment to the Kyiv Independent.

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Another anonymous Telegram channel, Joker, published a post linking the incident at Nikolov's apartment with him calling President Volodymyr Zelensky "an evader" in a YouTube show by Ukrainska Pravda media outlet two weeks earlier.

Nikolov said on the show that Zelensky "was evading his duty to lead a country at war."

When asked earlier by the Ukrainian outlet Detector Media if he thinks the threatening home visit was connected to his statement on Zelensky, Nikolov said he does not rule out this possibility.

"My colleagues told me immediately after that broadcast - wait for an answer."

Speaking with the Kyiv Independent, Nikolov said that he was filing a police report regarding the incident.

Ukraine's Anticorruption Action Center provided him with a lawyer, and Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the head of the Ukrainian parliament's Committee on Freedom of Speech, also offered his support, Nikolov added.

"I received an offer of help from many structures in Ukraine. Support is at a good level… As of now, everything is developing well, the police are working absolutely constructively on this issue."

Kyiv police later reported that they had started investigating "a publication regarding threats to one of the media representatives."

Yurchyshyn said on Facebook that the incident near Nikolov's apartment "clearly amounts to obstructing the activity of a journalist."

This is not the first time an investigative journalist in Ukraine was threatened or assaulted during Russia's full-scale war.

Mykhailo Tkach, the head of the investigative journalism unit of the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, said on Nov. 18 last year that he had been assaulted by a security guard while shooting a video near a restaurant late on the previous day, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

Tkach said that former high-ranking employees of the Prosecutor General's Office had been seen at the restaurant.

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