Three reporters with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Ukrainian Service investigative program, Schemes: Corruption in Detail, were awarded the top prize in Ukraine’s National Investigative Journalism Competition for their report "The American Dream of Victor Medvedchuk" (in English). The report, by Schemes journalists Maksym Savchuk, Liubomyra Remazhevska, and Oleksandr Chornovalov, was recognized as Ukraine’s best investigation of the year during a ceremony at the annual Mezhyhyria Fest International Journalism Festival on September 4, 2021.
"The American Dream of Victor Medvedchuk" revealed that the family of Ukraine’s leading pro-Russian politician, Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, has been selling refined oil products to the United States, despite sanctions placed against Medvedchuk by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2014 for his alleged role in Russia’s armed annexation of Crimea. Schemes journalists established that some of the output of the Novoshakhtinsk Petroleum Products Plant, owned by Medvedchuk's wife Oksana Marchenko at the time of the investigation, was being sold to one of the principal subsidiaries of ExxonMobil – one of the largest oil corporations in the world – via a Swiss-registered trader. The report resonated with audiences, and currently has more than 1.35 million views on Youtube.
Mezhyhyria Fest has, since 2014, gathered Ukrainian and international journalists, anti-corruption/transparency activists, policymakers and media experts at the former estate of deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, for an annual investigative journalism conference. This year’s conference was organized by the Media Development Fund and the investigative reporting project Slidstvo.Info.
Schemes: Corruption in Detail is a journalistic investigation program that exposes high-level corruption in Ukraine. Created in the wake of the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Schemes is a joint project of RFE/RL and UA: First TV channel. In total, Schemes journalists authored five of the 12 investigations short-listed for this year’s National Investigative Journalism Competition; Schemes reporters previously won top prizes in the competition in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
A few days earlier on August 28, Schemes journalist Heorhiy Shabayev was named one of Ukraine’s "30 Under 30" young journalists who “create the future of Ukrainian media.” A joint project of the Georgy Gongadze Prize and the online magazine The Ukrainians, the list was compiled by a jury of prominent Ukrainian journalists and media experts.
-- Michaela Roberts