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Chief editor of Teropil's "Politerno" reports surveillance and pressure by the police

05.02.2024, 10:03

Editor-in-chief of the Ternopil online investigative outlet "Politerno", Andriy Shchesniak, reported being surveilled and covert police actions.

According to the regional IMI representative, the outlet reported this on their website.

The editor believes that the surveillance has to do with his earlier articles (from November 2023) about the oblast police chief, Serhiy Zyubanenko: "The talented police PR man. How the Zyubanenko's 'glass' dream got bogged down in corruption and became a long-term project" and "Corrupt collaborator from 'Voda Kryma'. Why did Zyubanenko hide information about his father-in-law."

Shchesniak also says that while he was away from the city, his mother received a draft notice issued in his name. He filed a statement with the Ternopil Joint City Territorial Center for Staffing and Social Support on January 26 regarding his right to invoke Art. 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine (freedom of religion), as he is a "long-standing member of the Evangelical Church". According to him, this is the second notice he received; the first one was handed to him on January 17, but he did not go to the TSC due to health problems.

"She was told that they were granting me a deferment from military service in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution. But, as I said, instead of a deferment, they handed her a summons to the TCSSS for the next day, although she told the visitors that I was away," Shchesniak wrote.

He also stated, citing his own sources, that both the surveillance and the TSC's unlawful actions were the result of his reporting.

"The online outlet's sources say that I am under surveillance on Serhiy Zyubanenko's orders, with involvement from the 'search team', bugging my cell phone and tracking its GPS location. Which is why the police and TSC employees 'suddenly' appeared on Mykulynetska St., where I had a meeting and where I was served with a draft notice for the first time on January 17. Which is why I was being 'tracked' even on the evening of January 25," wrote Andriy Shchesnyak. The journalist notes that at that time he was staying at his friend's home, which only his family knew about.

According to Shchesnyak, he has sent a request for a surveillance check to the head of the SBU, Vasyl Malyuk. He also sent statements regarding covert investigative actions to the SBU, the Ternopil Oblast Prosecutor's Office, and the National Police.

Roman Holovenko, a lawyer at the Institute of Mass Information, noted that since the journalist claims that law enforcement officers have committed a crime against him, it is the jurisdiction of the State Bureau of Investigation, although the journalist did not mention contacting it.

Indeed, Andriy Shchesniak has not contacted the SBI. As he explained in a conversation with the regional IMI representative, he "sees no point."

"I filed [the statement] to the police purely to see their reaction. And to the SBU and the prosecutor's office to see certain action," Shchesniak commented.

The IMI representative wrote to the press service of the Ternopil Oblast National Police to get a comment from the head of the department, but they refrained.

Meanwhile, the oblast Prosecutor's Office reported to the IMI representative that a case based on Politerno's reports has been opened on January 31 under Part 3 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The pre-trial investigation will be carried out by the SBI, and the oblast Prosecutor's Office will be managing the process.

As the IMI reported, in May 2023, unknown persons created a "Politerno" clone with fake news about a the "uncovering of a bot farm" allegedly working to undermine the Mayor, with the headline "Hostile bot farm spreading fake news about Nadal uncovered in Ternopil oblast". In October 2020, the website was "down" for several days due to DDoS attacks. There had been a similar incident in early December 2019, when the website "crashed" for over a day.

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