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Person of interest in a journalist investigation files a police statement against "Syla Pravdy"

29.06.2023, 11:55
Photo: Syla Pravdy
Photo: Syla Pravdy

Anastasia Venislavska, co-owner of the Lutsk company "Speckomuntech" and the daughter of the former deputy prosecutor of Volyn and Odesa oblasts, Vadym Venislavsky, filed a complaint with the police against the journalist investigation center "Syla Pravdy", claiming that she had faced pressure from the journalists.

According to the media outlet, the journalists contacted the woman twice to ask her questions as part of a journalist investigation into "Speckomuntech" and her boyfriend's participation in a tender among local utility companies.

The investigation suggests that the company of ex-prosecutor Vadym Venislavsky's family probably colluded for the tender offered by the utility company "Lutskspeckomuntrans" in order to sell a used garbage truck to them. The boyfriend of the former law enforcer's daughter attended the bidding as a technical participant.

To learn about the bidding process in more detail and find out whether the co-owner and her boyfriend, Dmytro Bulyuk, knew about the joint participation in the utility company's procurement activities, "Syla Pravdy" journalists first contacted Anastasia Venislavska by phone and later met her and her boyfriend near their apartment. During these attempted conversations, the couple refused to give any comments, writes "Syla Pravdy".

"After Anastasia Venislavska gave her final refusal to comment, on May 23, I got a call from the police. The officer said that the woman had filed a statement against our editorial team. Since I had been contacting her from my number, I was the one who called her and asked for an explanation. It was only at the police department, from Anastasia Venislavska's statement, that I found out that she had faced psychological pressure, and that the editor-in-chief, Yuriy Horbach, had grabbed her by the sleeve. What's more, she claimed all this was happening because Speckomuntech refused to fund the editorial team of 'Syla Pravdy' and now we want to get the money by force," said journalist Khrystyna Krot, who took part in the investigation.

"Syla Pravdy" executive, Yuriy Horbach, has said that the editorial team did not pressured the persons of interest in their investigation and that he considers Venislavska's statement to the police "absolutely baseless."

"Our editorial team did not exert any psychological pressure on the persons involved in the investigation, let alone attacked them (which, by the way, is backed by video evidence). According to our code of ethics and standards of journalism, we are obliged to maintain a balanced approach, contact all sides of a situation and give them a chance to speak out and explain their behavior. That is why we turned to the director of Speckomuntech, its current co-owner, Anastasia Venislavska, to her boyfriend, a participant in the tender, and tried to contact the former co-owner of the company, ex-prosecutor Vadym Venislavsky, through his wife, because we suspect that he still has a sway in the company," said Yuriy Horbach.

He added that as Vadym Venislavsky's wife, Natalia Venislavska, was speaking to the journalist, she alleged that the editorial team was seeking to extort money from the company – a point which later appeared in her daughter's statement to the police.

"Our editorial team has never addressed either Speckomuntech LLC or any other companies with requests or demands for any kind of funding. We are an independent regional media outlet, we work with Ukrainian and international organizations and do media projects. Every year, we prepare reports on our work, and if possible, we also talk about it publicly. Therefore, the extortion allegations are nothing more than an attempt to discredit the editorial team which discovered the violations in the tender," Horbach added.

In the comment to the IMI representative in Volyn oblast, Yuriy Horbach said that the statement was about a criminal offense, the journalist has been questioned, but no case has been opened.

"Khrystyna went to the police office provided oral and written explanations. The police has not contacted her since. It was a statement about a criminal offense, but they haven't opened a case," he said.

According to IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko, if the money extortion allegations are proven to be false, they can be qualified under Article 383 (Intended misreport of a criminal offense).

"Intended misreport of a criminal offense to a court, prosecutor, investigator, or inquiring body shall be punishable by correctional labor for a term up to two years, or arrest for a term up to six months, or restraint of liberty for a term up to three years, or imprisonment for a term up to two years," says the lawyer, citing the Criminal Code.

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