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Police closes case on death threats to BookInfo journalist, prosecutors re-open it

21.12.2022, 11:36
Photo: Aaron Wojack for The New York Times
Photo: Aaron Wojack for The New York Times

Investigators from Chernivtsi police closed the case on threats of murder and home destruction received by journalist, BookInfo head Serhiy Zaraisky. The Chernivtsi Main Department of the National Police reported this in response to an information request by the regional IMI representative.

In the request, the IMI representative asked the police for information on the results of the investigation and if the person who had threatened the journalist has been identified.

In their response, the National Police reported that they had identified the person who sent threats to the journalist, but on September 30, 2022, the case had been closed on the basis of Clause 2, Part 1 of Article 284 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine – the act constituting no criminal offense.

"We have notified the victim of the results of the pre-trial investigation by mailing him a copy of the decision on closing the criminal proceedings. At the moment, the materials of the closed criminal case are being studied at the Chernivtsi Regional Prosecutor's Office," the response to the information request states.

In his comment to the IMI representative, BookInfo editor, journalist Serhiy Zaraisky said that he was not aware of the results of the pre-trial investigation, and that he had only received the latter about the case being closed on December 14 (after IMI's request for information – author's note).

"I knew absolutely nothing about the case being closed. The police only talked to me when I filed my statement and testified to the investigator about someone threatening to murder me and destroy the editorial office or my home. There was no further contact. I did not know anything about the progress of the pre-trial investigation. Actually, I thought that the investigation was ongoing and they would call me or send me a letter when necessary. But this is not what happened," the journalist said.

"It turns out that the case had been closed on September 30, and I only received the letter on December 14. Now the law enforcers are telling me that since the threats were not recorded, they cannot establish if the suspect is guilty. This is their reason for closing the case. As I have now learned, the man who had threatened me told the police that he only talked to me in a raised voice, and did not make any threats. But that is not true. That is, it turns out that if the conversation was not recorded, then there were no threats whatsoever! In reality, the person did threaten to kill me, burn down the editorial office and my house. My wife, who also testified to the police, was a witness to this phone conversation. It turns out that I should have known in advance that I would be threatened and should have been recording every phone call from an unknown number?! And if someone threatens me and I do record it, they are going to tell me that it was all a provocation, that I provoked it and recorded it on purpose," Zaraisky said.

According to the journalist, he received the threats 15 minutes after his editorial about the corruption in the former leadership of the Chernivtsi Regional Military Administration was published on the BookInfo website. "This is all recorded in the criminal case. I appealed to the Prosecutor's Jffice to contest such a decision on the part of the investigation. I hope for a further, impartial and responsible investigation into the case", said Serhiy Zaraisky.

In response to IMI's request, the Chernivtsi Regional Prosecutor's Office said that the police's decision to close the criminal proceedings has been canceled and the pre-trial investigation has been resumed.

"Having studied the materials of the case, the regional Prosecutor's Office has established that the decision to close it was illegal and unfounded. Taking the above into account, on 13.12.2022, the Regional Prosecutor's Office cancels the decision of the Chernivtsi RPD (Chernivtsi oblas MDNP) investigator Popadyuk B.V. on the closing of the case, and resumes the pre-trial investigation," the Prosecutor's Office said in their response.

As IMI reported, in May 2022, journalist and BookInfo editor Serhiy Zaraisky said that an unknown person had threatened to kill him and destroy his home following his article titled "NABU should take a close look at Osachuk, Head of the Chernivtsi Regional State Administration, for forging the papers of military units and covering up smuggling schemes at the border."

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