Ukrainian investigative journalist says he found listening device in his apartment
Lviv investigative journalist Taras Zozulinsky said he discovered an electronic listening device in his apartment on Jan. 6, Kyiv Post reports. He thinks it was planted because of his investigation into whether high-ranking police officers in Lviv Oblast are involved in the illicit drug trade.
Police say they have launched criminal proceedings regarding intentional obstruction of journalistic activities, but complain that the newspaper is obstructing their work.
Oleksandr Rudiak, chief of police in Lviv Oblast, dismisses any allegations of wrongdoing against the police in the case brought by the Lviv-based Expres newspaper, which employs Zozulinsky.
Rudiak told the Kyiv Post that the police want to formally include the device as material evidence, but said the newspaper has refused to give it to them. “And no one except their editorial staff has seen the device yet,” Rudiak said. “There was not cooperation, but obstruction” of the investigation.
Zozulinsky said he did not trust the police, so the newspaper decided to give the device to a reliable and independent expert in Europe. The newspaper's website also ran a story, saying that the device has already been sent to Europe through “diplomatic channels.” The reporter said that one investigator demanded that he surrender the device and threatened to search the newspaper's office if he does not comply.
Zozulinsky said he found the device sewn to the label of a towel on a shelf and made a complaint to police the same day. Police interviewed him and searched the apartment at his request, but did not find any other bugs.
But he said those officers weren't looking hard and thinks that they aren't interested in solving the case. His lawyer, Petro Kravchuk, who was present during the search, supports his client's suspicion. “After such a search in the apartment by the police I cannot say that the place does not have devices for covert interception,” Kravchuk said.
Zozulinsky has given local police and authorities reason to dislike him. He has been uncovering alleged wrongdoing by authorities for five years, including his current reporting into an illicit drug trade. He is backed by his employers. On Jan. 8, Expres issued a statement saying that the newspaper does not trust law enforcement and stopped cooperating with the police.
Zozulinsky, in a telephone interview, told the Kyiv Post he believes that he is still under surveillance. He says he is more worried for his wife's safety than his own.
“I will continue doing my work as I do it legally and according to proper journalistic standards,” he said, promising the investigation in illicit drug trade in Lviv Oblast will come out soon exposing names of some senior officials and their wrongdoings.