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Zelensky says ‘any pressure on journalists unacceptable’ after reported surveillance of Ukrainian investigative outlet

by Kateryna Denisova January 18, 2024 12:19 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. .16, 2024. (Hannes P Albert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address on Jan. 17 briefly commented on the leak of personal videos and calls of staff members of the investigative outlet Bihus.Info, saying that “any pressure on journalists is unacceptable.”

Bihus.Info reported on Jan. 16 that its employees had been under surveillance for months after a video appeared online showing some staff members of the outlet using drugs during a New Year's private party.

The video, published by a dubious online news outlet Narodna Pravda, included footage from a well-placed, hidden camera inside a building where the party took place, as well as video recordings taken from the street and tapped phone calls, where the staff members discuss purchasing drugs.

An investigation into Narodna Pravda found that the supposed news organization is likely fake, the Svidomi news outlet reported on Jan. 17.

Zelensky said he had held a meeting with law enforcement officials with the participation of Ukraine Security Service chief Vasyl Maliuk. Earlier the same day, the SBU said it had begun investigating the incident with Bihus.Info and opened criminal proceedings.

The news about the surveillance of Bihus.Info came a day after Yurii Nikolov, a prominent journalist known for investigating defense procurement corruption scandals, said he had received a threatening visit to his home by unknown men.

Mediarukh, a community that brings together journalists of leading Ukrainian media, urged Zelensky to condemn the pressure on journalists and to take control of the investigation.

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