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Bihus.Info surveillance: police opens four cases

22.01.2024, 14:51

The National Police is investigating four cases related to surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists. This was announced by the head of the National Police, Ivan Vyhivsky, at a briefing in Kyiv on January 22, Ukrinform reports.

"There is the SBU case. The second case is not even one, but four Bihus.Info representatives contacted us and we registered four cases under Article 182 – violation of privacy. They were effectively filed over the weekend, Friday–Saturday. Certain investigative steps are planned. Bihus.Info has reported that the SBU has already carried out certain investigative actions. We will coordinate our actions and move along," said Vyhivsky.

He also said that four perpetrators in the case of precluding the work of investigative journalist Yuriy Nikolov have been identified, investigative steps are currently being carried out, the suspects' phones are being examined.

As the IMI reported, on January 16, the head of the Bihus.Info project, Denys Bihus, recorded a statement in response to a provocative video shared on YouTube by the website "Narodna Pravda", wherein his employees negotiate the purchase of drugs and use them, and reported unlawful surveillance and wiretapping. He also announced staff changes.

The phones of the Bihus.Info team were wiretapped for several months, according to Denys Bihus's second video address. He says that the leaked phone conversation recordings point to this. These conversations happened some time apart.

The director of the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Romaniuk, demands that the authorities address systematic pressure on journalists. She said this while commenting on the pressure on journalist Yuriy Nikolov, whose apartment suffered a break-in attempt by unknown men, and the Bihus.Info team.

On January 17, the Media Movement called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to resolutely condemn the pressure campaign on independent journalists and investigators and ensure that the crimes against the media are properly investigated.

On January 17, the Security Service of Ukraine opened a case over unlawful wiretapping and video surveillance of Bihus.Info employees. On the same day, SBU officers searched at the suburban complex where the Bihus.Info team members were illegally recorded on video. The law enforcers confiscated the hard drives with CCTV footage.

On January 18, 2024, it was reported that the Kyiv Oblast National Police HQ had opened a pre-trial investigation into the violation of privacy following a statement by Bihus.Info journalist Maria Zemlyanska.

The team performed their own investigation, and Denys Bihus reported that at least 30 people were involved in the surveillance operation targeting the team. The surveillance cameras were installed in the rooms where the project's employees, mostly women, stayed. Other guests at the hotel were also under unauthorized surveillance.

As for Yuriy Nikolov's case, the police have identified five people who tried to break into the apartment of investigative journalist Yury Nikolov on January 15, 2024. On January 20, their apartments were searched and the police carried out a series of investigative actions there, seizing computer equipment and mobile phones used by the suspects to film their "visit" to the journalist.

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