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Oksana Romanyuk: Case of Skhemy’s car reinforces usage of pressure and intimidation of investigative journalists

18.08.2020, 14:12
Photo credit: Natalya Sedletska
Photo credit: Natalya Sedletska

The incident involving arson of Skhemy’s car has reinforced usage of pressure, threats and intimidation of independent investigative journalists in Ukraine, as IMI Executive Director Oksana Romanyuk said interviewed by Radio Liberty.

“The last arson incident is very alarming. Because it seems like it reinforces the usage of pressure, threats, and intimidation of independent investigative journalists in Ukraine. We recorded several such cases, they involved “Skhemy” program and "Slidstvo.Info" project and a number of independent journalists more. And I do not see any significant progress on these investigations, not even that Ukrainian courts sentencing aggressors and assaulters. And I have a very big question for the Ukrainian guarantor of the Constitution, who must clearly express his position on interfering with the work of journalists. Since their protection has been guaranteed by the Constitution and Ukrainian law and international law, ”the expert said.

Oksana Romaniuk added that the general trend of usage of pressure on journalists persisted after the shift of power in 2019, and in some categories, such as physical attacks targeting mass media representatives, it has even worsened.

We expected some post-election improvement (since 2019 was the year of elections), but this did not happen. Yes, we witnessed threats to journalists Kateryna Serhatskova Lyubov Velychko and Iryna Fedoriv. There is also a big question about the fact that the Skhemy’s car was set on fire after threats (from the former official of Viktor Yanukovych's administration) Andriy Portnov, who wrote about "disciplinary measures", - Oksana Romanyuk said. – The law enforcement agencies should definitely check this very strange coincidence. In addition, the current government has been claiming from the beginning that they did not pay any attention to the press, as their priority was communication through social networks. And we don't know whether the authorities will change its stance, whether the mechanisms of protection of journalists from impunity will work and all these attacks will be investigated. "

As IMI reported, on August 17th, in Brovary (Kyiv region) some unknown people set fire to the car of the journalistic investigation program “Skhemy” (Schemes), which belongs to the driver of the program Borys Mazur, 

Kyiv Region Police have launched criminal proceedings over the fire in the Schem driver's car. The incident is qualified as intentional destruction of property. 

On August 8, Mykhailo Tkach, journalist with the Skhemy (Schemes: Corruption in Detail s) program , said he noticed signs of a listening device being installed at his home.

The police opened a criminal case for violation of privacy of the journalist with the program "Schemes: corruption in detail" Mykhailo Tkach under Part 1 of Art. 182 (“Violation of privacy”) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine and under Part 1 of Art. 359 ("Illegal acquisition or sale of special technical means of covert receipt of information, as well as their illegal use").

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