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Energy Ministry limits access to information on international aid for the restoration of Mykolaiv oblast power networks

03.11.2023, 13:10

The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy has limited access to information on international aid for the restoration of energy infrastructure facilities in Mykolaiv oblast, which were damaged by Russian shelling.

This was reported by "NikVesti".

The outlet's journalist, Yulia Boychenko, was working on an article assessing the readiness of the Mykolaiv oblast power system for possible future Russian shelling and new blackouts. She contacted the Energy Ministry, asking for data on the donors and the aid (the money, the equipment, etc.) given to Mykolaiv Oblast to provide the region with electricity since the start of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.

The journalist also asked what percent of power grids in the oblast has been damaged by Russian shelling.

However, the response to the inquiry, signed by Deputy Minister Svitlana Hrynchuk, refused to provide the correspondent with the information she had requested, referring to the martial law: "...the Ministry of Energy has temporarily, for the duration of the martial law, stopped granting requests for public information concerning fuel and power infrastructure facilities, as well as strategic and operational plans on ensuring energy security, to protect the national security of our country."

"Nikvesti" editors contacted Roman Holovenko, a lawyer at the Institute of Mass Information, for a comment. He said that a significant part of the requested information may indeed be classified, but "this should be decided by an energy expert." However, he added, the Ministry of Energy's response is still problematic in terms of legality.

"This is not an acceptable refusal. It ought to have included a three-fold test for each question in the request: two of those had to explain specifically why sharing this information could be helpful to the enemy. Their intention to keep such information classified until the end of martial law is also inconsistent with the Freedom of Information Act, as it requires that the situation at the time of the request be considered. That is, hypothetically, in the future, it may be that martial law is still in place, but the Russian Federation no longer has the means to destroy our infrastructure in the rear. Moreover, it is not even listed which subcategory of classidied information this data belongs to," said Roman Holovenko.

He also added that even the resolutions of the National Commission (which regulates the energy and utilities sphere) which the Ministry of Energy cites in their refusal do not cover information inquiries, but only publishing information on websites at the initiative of administrators.

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