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Former Volyn attorney's family sues "Syla Pravdy"

24.11.2023, 15:02

Former Volyn attorney Vadym Venislavsky and his daughter Anastasia Venislavska have filed a lawsuit against the Center for Journalistic Investigations "Syla Pravdy" for protection of honor, dignity and business reputation, reports the media outlet.

The plaintiffs believe that the journalists "doused them with filth" and published false information in their reports about the participation of their company "Spetskomuntech" in state procurement. They filed the lawsuit with the Lutsk City District Court in late October. On October 27, the court opened proceedings in this case.

The persons featured in an investigation by "Syla Pravdy" claim that the released information about the company "Spetskomuntech", co-founded by Anastasia Venislavska, are misleading and the backlash from readers has caused them moral damage.

Namely, they refer to the following articles: "Lutsk company owned by a former attorney's relative and his 'son-in-law' win a tender to sell a garbage truck to public utilities'" and "Lutsk public utilities buy a white pickup truck from an ex-attorney's 'son-in-law' for $20,000 to drive to the garbage dump".

Moreover, according to the complainants, their business reputation has been damaged by the videos that were recorded for these investigations and uploaded to the organization's YouTube channel.

"The plaintiffs are indignant, as they say that the defendant 'doused them personally and their families with filth' frivolously and without providing any evidence, violated their personal non-property rights by taking photos and videos without their consent or knowledge, sharing their personal photos which had not been publicly available without their consent or knowledge, spreading unreliable information about them, which became known to their relatives and acquaintances, thus insulting their honor, dignity and causing damage to their business reputation...", the lawsuit states.

"Syla Pravdy" director Yuriy Horbach considers this behavior as an attempt to interfere with the journalists' professional work avoid reputational losses.

"The information gathering methods which our team used while working on the journalistic investigations are justified in terms of public significance. After all, alleged concerted anti-competition actions by the tender participants directly influence the results of tenders, thus rendering the very idea of the "Prozorro" system null and void and leading to excessive spending of budget funds that could have been saved up. This is even more important during a war, when every hryvnia saved can be spent to meet the needs of the army," said Yuriy Horbach.

According to him, there was no interference in the Venislavskys' private life. "After all, what they call such an intervention was the team attempting to get a comment from the parties regarding the information they've learned, as journalistic ethics demand," the journalist added.

The plaintiffs also complain about "Syla Pravdy" reporting on Anastasia Venislavska alleging to the police that the journalists put "psychological pressure" on her and harassed her while attempting to get a comment. She claims that by publishing this information, the editors violated her rights as a victim.

Vadym and Anastasia Venislavskys ask the court to declare the information in the listed reports by "Syla Pravdy" unreliable, to oblige the editorial team to delete the articles from the website and social media pages within three days of the judgement entering into force, to write a rebuttal and to collect court costs from the editors.

Oksana Maksymeniuk, a media lawyer at the Institute for Regional Press Development, considers the lawsuit frivolous and baseless.

"The plaintiffs ask to refute evaluation judgments, which are not subject to refutation by law. Moreover, the demand for the complete removal of articles in which the plaintiffs only want some statements refuted as they consider them to be unreliable and insulting to their honor, dignity and business reputation, is censorship, which is expressly prohibited by the laws and the Constitution of Ukraine," Maksymeniuk said.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for November 29, 2023 at the Lutsk City and District Court.

As the IMI reported, earlier Anastasia Venislavska, the daughter of the former deputy attorney of Volyn and Odesa oblasts (Vadym Venislavsky) and the co-owner of the Lutsk company "Speckomuntech", filed a complaint with the police against the journalist investigation center "Syla Pravdy", claiming that she had faced pressure from the journalists. The journalists first called the woman by phone to ask her questions as part of a journalist investigation, and then met her and her boyfriend near their house. The coule refused to comment anything both times.

In August, the Lutsk police interrogated the "Syla Pravdy" journalists as part of the case opened following the statement by Anastasia Venislavska, a person featured in a journalistic investigation, reported "Syla Pravdy".

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