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Khmelnytskyi outlet to sue the Verkhovna Rada Apparatus over access denial

26.03.2024, 14:11

On March 20, Khmelnytskyi media ZHAR.INFO filed a lawsuit against the Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on behalf of their journalist Alyona Bereza for refusing to provide public data on the overseas business trips by the deputies representing the Khmelnytskyi oblast, the outlet reports on their website.

As the editors note, Bereza sent several requests to the VRU Apparatus: on November 28, 2023; January 10 and February 7, 2024.

The Apparatus altogether ignored the first request, which the journalist sent by e-mail only. The next two requests, which were submitted both by e-mail and through her own cabinet on the official VRU website, were processed but the requested information was denied, the Apparatus claiming that they could not create a document containing the requested information.

"A document that would contain the information you requested can not be created in the Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and is not in its possession, but can only be obtained by summarizing and analytically processing data. According to subparagraph 3 of paragraph 2 of the May 11, 2011 Decree No. 393 of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, 'The Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is not the manager of information if the requested information... must be obtained by summarizing, analytical data processing or needs to be created in another way,'" reads the response by the Apparatus.

Disagreeing with this argument, the editors decided to file a lawsuit with the Khmelnytskyi District Administrative Court. In their lawsuit, the media outlet asks that the reply by the VRU Apparatus be declared unlawful and the Apparatus is ordered to provide the requested information as well as the above-mentioned decree by the VRU Chairman.

"The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine considers the data on the deputies' reports to not be public information, as it requires additional analysis; however, we do not think so, so we ask the court to defend our rights and restore them," explains Yevheniy Vorobyov, a lawyer at the NGO "Human Rights Platform", who is assisting the editors in this case.

The Khmelnytskyi District Administrative Court opened the proceedings on March 21 and will consider the case according to the rules of simplified legal proceedings. The court will also demand from the VRU Apparatus the files regarding their review of the February 7, 2024 request.

On March 12, 2024 the investigative journalism agency Slidstvo.Info filed a lawsuit against the Apparatus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for refusing to provide the public information about the overseas business trips that the deputies went on after the full-scale invasion.

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