Location Ukraine Ukraine

Ukrainian journalists foiled operation of special services

On September 18, the Ukrainian opposition website “Strana” made a loud statement. The editorial office reported that Ukrainian special services tried to recruit Vyacheslav Seleznyov, a photojournalist of “Strana”. He is known for having found and photographed in the video the villa of Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Spain. After the trip to Spain, the photojournalist faced to problems. He was followed by an external surveillance, his phone was auditioned.

Two weeks ago Seleznyov was detained after buying marijuana for personal use. Then two agents of the Security Service interfered with the case, removed the police from the investigation of the offense and began recruiting a journalist. The SBU official bluntly stated that they want to close “Strana”, so they need an informant. By direct threats of physical violence and psychological pressure, the SBU officer intended to force the journalist to provide detailed information about the activities of the editorial board. In the case of refusal to cooperate, the agent promised big troubles (up to beating, prison and problems with a mother).

Seleznyov reported his editorial staff that SBU tried him to recruit. The editorial board decided to expose the SBU agent. Since the agent introduced himself as Alexander and wears a short beard with sideburns, the journalists called their actions “Operation Pushkin”. “Strana” has followed, written down and documented the SBU officer for 10 days. The journalists recorded a large number of threats against Seleznyov, managed to photograph Pushkin and set the number of his official car.

Then, “Strana” has published a detailed story of the Seleznyov’s recruitment by a agent of the Security Service and addressed to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, as well as to the head of SBU Vasil Hrytsak with three demands: to identify their attitude to the actions of the SBU employees, to initiate a criminal investigation into the threats to the journalist, to apologize for “Strana” editorial staff.

The chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Sergei Tomilenko, said that “Strana” put extremely heavy charges against the special services, which are supported by a large number of specific materials. Therefore, “SBU is obliged to provide a professional detailed report on the reproaches.”

According to Ukrainian lawyers, SBU violated at least three articles of the criminal code: the persecution of a journalist in connection with his lawful professional activity (art. 171 of the Criminal Code) and the threat or violence against a journalist (Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code), as well as the excess of authority or official position by a law enforcement officer (Article 365 of the Criminal Code). Finally, it turns out that the SBU acts as a personal security service of the President of Ukraine.

The day after the publication of the materials, the SBU officer was identified. His name is Alexandr Khaindrava. The official reaction of the Ukrainian authorities has not followed yet.

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