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Organizer of a festival in Opishnya tells the police that reporters invaded her private space

14.09.2023, 13:17
Photo by Nadia Kucher
Photo by Nadia Kucher

The organizer of the festival "Borscht in a Clay Pot" which took place on August 12 in Opishnya (Poltava oblast), Olena Shcherban, filed statements with the police against journalist Vitaly Ulybin ("Poltava Wave") and Olha Stenko (, who had come to cover the event.

This was reported by the IMI representative in Poltava oblast.

Shcherban accused the journalists of ivading her private space. Olena Shcherban posted a video of herself filing the statements on Facebook.

"I am submitting a statement about a criminal offense by the employees of the TV channel "Suspilne", by Ulybin. They invaded my private space, violated a bunch of articles of the Constitution of Ukraine. In particular, about the inviolability of private life. They were filming videos, sending drones. Spreading false rumours," Olena Shcherban says in the video.

In a comment to the IMI representative, the police officers who were on duty near the borscht festival venue said that Olena Shcherban files statements with the police repeatedly. The police are recording the statements, study the described situation and identify the mentioned persons.

The journalists, in turn, gave the police their explanations regarding Shcherban's statement and claim that they had come to cover the public event "Borscht in a Clay Pot", which was organized and announced by Olena Shcherban.

In her comment to the IMI representative, journalist Olha Stenko said that she learned about the festival from an open source, from Olena Shcherban's social media. And she was surprised to find she was not allowed to the event.

"I learned about the date and place of the event from an open source, from the social media of the plot's owner, Olena Shcherban – I have the screenshots. I have perviously visited multiple ethnic food festivals which Ms. Olena called international. I know from my experience that these are mass events. At this address is the so-called "Lyalyna Svitlytsia" estate and the self-proclaimed "Cooked Borscht Museum", "Live Bread Museum", "Motanka Doll Museum", as well as a hotel. Information on them is publicly available online. Therefore, I was surprised that Olena Shcherban did not let me and others entering with me into the estate. Ms. Shcherban said that she was having a private wedding, that only invited guests were allowed to enter, and that and the newlyweds did not want journalists to be seen at the wedding," Olha Stenko said.

The journalist added that there was a banner over the fence which said that on August 12, 2023, the estate will host the ethnic food festival "Borscht in a Clay Pot" and that she had photo proof.

"People from different places were entering to attend the borscht festival – I have an audio recording of myself discussing this with the visitors. At the entrance, each person would pay 100 hryvnias and nobody would check their invitations. So, in my opinion, it was a mass commercial event taking place at the estate," said Olha Stenko.

The journalist noted that she had collected evidence that it was the announced borscht festival, and not a private wedding, that was taking place at the "Lyalyna Svitlitsa" estate.

"A woman invited me to come in and try their borscht. I accepted the invitation and entered the estate without hindrance. Inside, I saw commercial activity taking place: public catering, as well as liquor sale. I collected photo and audio evidence of a mass event taking place at the estate owned by the citizen Olena Shcherban, which featured unauthorized commercial activity," said Stenko.

The journalist considers Olena Shcherban's claims to be unfounded. "Moreover, I would like to note that the aforementioned person bullied me, as well as my husband Stenko Valentyn Heorhiyovych, a territorial defense volunteer, on social media," said Olha Stenko.

The "Poltava Wave" chief editor, Vitaliy Ulybin, said that he had come to Opishnya to report on the international borscht festival "Borscht in a Clay Pot".

According to him, Shcherban had invited everyone to the festival on her social media.

"We had come to report on an open public event. These events were covered in the story by the 'Poltava Wave'. Despite Olena Shcherban's claims that the 'Lyalina Svetlytsia' estate is private property, she has repeatedly and publicly announced that it was a commercial venue which hosts tours, master classes, workshops, weddings and other events," Ulybin said, adding that on September 7, 2023, Shcherban said on the program "My Super Family" on the TV channel TET that the estate is her business where she does commercial projects.

According to the journalist, when they got to the festival, they saw that it featured preparation and sale of many various dishes which could potentially pose a danger to the consumers, since there was no ambulance on duty at the venue and the sanitary conditions had not been checked.

He believes that the journalists in their reporting are recording violations that are of significant public importance.

"Therefore, the journalists who were performing their professional duties at the venue of a public event where an entrance fee was collected did not violate the law, and their activities cannot be restricted," Vitaliy Ulybin said.

The head of the Opishnya community, Mykola Riznyk, commented to the IMI representative, saying that Olena Shcherban received no permit to host the event – moreover, she has been banned by the district military administration to hold mass events.

Nadia Kucher, Kateryna Dyachuk

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