Ukrainian investigative journalists’ followed and monitored

The safety of journalists working at Ukraine’s Schemes and Bihus.Info investigative journalism outlets was compromised. The Committee to Protect Journalists raised their concern after journalists reported being followed and surveilled last week, and called on authorities to swiftly investigate the matter.

A report by Schemes – an investigative journalism TV program within the US, detailed how reporter Mykhailo Tkach and his cameraman were followed in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. Using a state vehicle registration database, the report identified the vehicles used in the surveillance as belonging to a security company owned by Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian billionaire and former member of parliament. Schemes said that the surveillance likely stemmed from their reporting on the close ties between Akhmetov and the national leadership.

Editor-in-chief of the Kiev-based independent investigative news outlet Bihus.Info, Denis Bihus, said on Facebook that he and members of his reporting team noticed several unidentified people monitoring their activity from outside their Kiev office starting on February 20. Schemes also interviewed Ukrainian media lawyers who said interference in journalistic activities is a criminal offense under Ukrainian law. Schemes Editor-in-Chief Natalie Sedletska told CPJ that she and her team were making the surveillance public in the hope that it would reduce the pressure on the journalists.