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Fourth Estate won case against SBU colonel at Supreme Court

24.01.2022, 16:30
Photo credit: Anna Nazaruk, from VK portal
Photo credit: Anna Nazaruk, from VK portal

The Supreme Court dismissed appeal filed by the SBU Colonel Oleg Nazaruk against “Fourth Estate” investigative journalism agency. Since almost two years, Nazaruk tried to refute the information about him made public in the investigation into land schemes. Instead, the colonel lost the courts of all instances.

The Supreme Court issued such a decision on January 18.

"The Supreme Court found that the challenged decisions of the courts of first and appellate instance were adopted in compliance with substantive law and procedural law, and the arguments of the cassation appeal did not refute their conclusions, their legality was not affected," the ruling said.

The court also emphasizes that the public figures, as it was the case of Oleh Nazaruk, who at the time of the investigation was the Ukrzaliznytsia's main anti-corruption figure, agreed to "expose" themselves to public and political discussion. So they "inevitably are subject to meticulous coverage of wtah they said and done and they must be aware of this." 

In addition, the court invoked the principles of freedom of speech and expression, the principles of journalism.  

The interests of journalists in the courts were represented by Vera Krat, a media lawyer at the Institute for Regional Press Development.

It will be recalled Oleg Nazaruk’s claims concerned the material of the "Fourth Estate" "Land rogues of Rivne region: how business does grab tens of hectares thanks to officials."

The journalistic investigation found that Oleg Nazaruk would have been connected with a "business milieu", which had appropriated almost one and a half hundred hectares of land in Rivne region.

In addition, the investigation included a video blog by journalist Hanna Kalaur for "Bihus.info", in which she told about who Oleg Nazaruk was, what he did when he worked in public office, as well asabout "disrupted" case of Nazaruk, who was blamed with organizing "amber clique" and corruption. .

According to Nazaruk, the publication and journalist Hanna Kalaur, who was preparing a video blog for "Bihus.info", provided some untruthful information about him. He demanded that she refute it and pay monetary compensation in amount of 65,000 hryvnias (around $2 291) for moral damages and lawyer's fees.

As IMI reported, on December 29, 2020, Rivne City Court Judge Natalia Kuchyna dissmissed the claim of Oleg Nazaruk against journalists of the Fourth Estate.

The agency said that the lawyer did not provide any evidence of pressure, so the judge denied the request.

In February 2021, Oleg Nazaruk filed an appeal and changed his lawyer. However, in June the panel of judges sided with journalists. 

In August 2021, the Civil Court of Cassation opened cassation proceedings and demanded a case. The last hearing took place on January 18, at which the court put an end to this story.

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