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"Kolo" journalist reports being cyberbullied over an article about the City Council secretary

29.11.2022, 15:19

Editor-in-chief of the Poltava online publication "Kolo", Tetyana Cyrulnyk, faced cyberbullying following her news story about the Poltava City Council secretary, Andriy Karpov. She informed the IMI representative in Poltava oblast about this.

An October 26 news report titled "The price for 8 years of Vata Show: Poltava City Council secretary Andriy Karpov is raising money for an operation," has a reference to the official's Telegram channel, where he wrote about his treatment and the fundraising campaign. Karpov posted this article on his social media, having taken screenshots from the "Kolo" website. The official accused the journalist of distorting the truth, claiming that she had written a news article with the headline "Karpov is raising money for penis enlargement/reduction surgery."

After that, Karpov's supporters started humiliating and insulting the journalist in the comments under his Facebook post. Tetyana Cyrulnyk said that at first, she had no plans of contacting the police. On her Facebook page, she published an address to Petro Poroshenko, the leader of the "European Solidarity" party, which the City Council secretary belongs to, considering this an effective way to influence Andriy Karpov. She asked Poroshenko to defend her from Karpov, adding that journalists only started to cover his activities after he was elected as a Poltava City Council deputy from the ES party, and then as secretary of the Poltava City Council.

In a conversation with the IMI representative, the journalist said that lawyers advised her to write a statement with the cyber police or file a lawsuit. In the end, she wrote a statement to the police.

"I really don't want to take this situation to court: as the story of Poltava journalist Darina Synytska shows, a case for threats and cyberbullying can go on for years, so it takes a lot of time and money, and the result will be 'blurry.' And to feel uncertain for such a long time is a considerable psychological trauma. But it will have to be done, because if the official is not stopped now, he will become more and more insolent in the future. So, after my official video address to Poroshenko on November 4 backfired (Andriy Karpov wrote another post about me, where he put all the blame on me), on November 7, I filed a complaint with the police," she said.

Moreover, on November 10, Cyrulnyk appealed to the Commission for Journalistic Ethics and the Mediacheck initiative to assess her articles about Andriy Karpov, and is waiting for their conclusions. She also plans to file a complaint about the official's behavior with the City Council.

The IMI representative tried to get a comment from Andriy Karpov, but the official did not answer her phone calls. The regional representative cannot text him on Facebook, because Andriy Karpov has blocked her. Also, as of now, texting Karpov on Telegram is no longer an option, either – the official probably has the IMI representative's number blocked on this platform as well.

Roman Holovenko, the head of legal projects at IMI, notes that amendments should be made to the legislation to protect journalists from cyberbullying. "Hypothetically, you can try to consider this as influence on the journalist under part 2 of Art. 171 of the Criminal Code, but if offensive comments were written only under Andriy Karpov's post, then how do you prove that the commentators were aware that the journalist would read them," said the lawyer.

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