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Zaporizhzhia officials refuse to provide journalists with deeds on road repairs due to "national security risk"

31.08.2023, 12:48

The Municipal Administration Department of the Zaporizhia City Council refused to provide Zaporizhzhia Center of Investigation journalists with the deeds on the completed road repair work in Zaporizhzhia, which was carried out from early July to late August 2023. The reason for the refusal was that such information could harm national security.

Serhiy Sydorov, the head of the Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center, reported this to the IMI representative in the Zaporizhzhia oblast.

According to him, the officials delayed satisfying the request until the martial law imposed with regards to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is lifted.

The journalists requested the information on August 21 and received a response on August 28. In their response, the officials wrote the following:

"Given that the copies of the requested documents contain information regarding the repair of objects (namely highways) which belong to the linear complex of engineering structures designed for continuous, safe and convenient movement of vehicles and are adjacent to the city's infrastructure objects, including the critical infrastructure, the disclosure of such information may be detrimental to national security, territorial integrity or public order, etc."

However, Serhiy Sydorov points out that the department has posted photos of the road repairs on its Facebook page. He believes that some information is being hidden.

"A third of the city has seen exactly where the roads are being repaired. The Department, as the commissioner of the works, posted photos of the contractors working on its Facebook page almost every day, and the repair locations can be identified by these photos. Therefore, it is not very reasonable to say now that some terrible secrets are hidden in the records of the completed repair works and that they must be hidden from the Russians," said the head of the Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center.

The Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center journalists reported on Facebook that the local authorities refused their request:

"The authorities did not want to provide us with the deeds on road repair works in Zaporizhzhia because there is a war going on. Apparently, they think that the Russians will not spare an 'Iskander' or a 'Calibre' for every repaired area. And we simply cannot understand how it is possible to replace UAH 7 million worth of asphalt in two districts in a month and a half."

Roman Holovenko, a lawyer at the Institute of Mass Information, noted that the officials' refusal to provide information is unlawful.

"If we take the reply as a whole, it is an unlawful refusal, because the journalists were referred to 'Prozoro': they say, all the open information is there. This contradicts part 2 of Art. 22 of the law on access to public information. The administrator should provide copies of the documents with the information that he considers to be classified edited out (Part 8, Article 7 of the same law)," said Roman Holovenko.

As Serhiy Sydorov reported, the editors have already prepared a complaint against the officials to the Human Rights Commissioner.

According to the Zaporizhzhia Center of Investigation, the Municipal Management Department was recently established in Zaporizhzhia and is headed by Vitaly Lysenko. The department reports to Deputy Mayor Stepan Makhsma, a former secretary of the Mariupol City Council. He was appointed to the position of deputy in Zaporizhzhia under the "Metinvest" quota.

Natalya Vyhovska, Kateryna Dyachuk

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