Ambassadors of the Group of Seven (G7) countries met with prominent Ukrainian journalists amid concerns about decreasing press freedom in Ukraine, the G7 Ambassadors' Support Group in Ukraine reported on Jan. 29.
The Ukrainian media community has complained about systematic pressure after a series of discrediting campaigns against independent journalists, often supported by anonymous pro-government Telegram channels. Ukrainian and international media organizations called on Kyiv to establish those responsible and bring them to justice.
The latest two attacks against journalists involved a threatening home visit to Yurii Nikolov, who revealed procurement wrongdoing in the Defense Ministry under its previous leadership, and covert surveillance of the Bihus.Info investigative outlet's editorial team.
"Media freedom is the fundamental pillar of a successful democracy," the group wrote on X (formerly Twitter) following the meeting.
The journalists who attended the meeting include the Kyiv Independent's editor-in-chief Olga Rudenko, Bihus.Info's head Denys Bihus, Nikolov, who is a co-founder of the Nashi Hroshi investigative media project, Andrii Boborykin, the executive director of Ukraine's biggest news media outlet Ukrainska Pravda, as well as chief editors of European Pravda, New Voice and Detector Media outlets — Serhii Sydorenko, Vitalii Sych and Nataliia Lyhachova.
Among the attendees also were Mykola Chernotytskyi, board chairman of Suspilne public broadcaster, Oleksandr Martynenko, head of Interfax-Ukraine news outlet, Maryna Synhaivska, deputy head of Ukrinform, a state-run media outlet, political analyst Vitalii Portnykov, and Oksana Romaniuk, chief of the Institute of Mass Information.
"We appreciate this effort of G7 ambassadors to learn more about the challenges and threats facing Ukraine's journalists, especially since those threats have intensified lately," said Rudenko.
"It was one of the most open conversations about the state of the freedom of media in Ukraine in the recent time."
Earlier in January, Nikolov, whose investigations into inflated prices for food supplies and low-quality winter jackets for the military prompted the ousting of previous Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, said that at least two men approached his apartment on Jan. 14, aggressively banging on his door and verbally attacking him.
Soon after Nikolov made his case public, another scandal arose around the Bihus.Info outlet. An obscure website posing as a news organization, Narodna Pravda, published camera recordings and private calls of Bihus.Info staff members, capturing them purchasing and using drugs during a private New Year's party.
The investigative outlet subsequently said that unknown men installed hidden cameras in the complex where the party took place and that Bihus.Info's editorial office had been wiretapped for about a year.
President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the attacks, saying that "any pressure on journalists is unacceptable." Law enforcement launched investigations into the two cases as obstructing journalistic work.