WASHINGTON -- Two RFE/RL Ukrainian Service journalists, reporter Katerina Kaplyuk and cameraman Borys Trotsenko, were attacked today by two officials of the village council of Chabany, located just south of the capital, Kyiv in Kyiv Region. Trotsenko was diagnosed with a concussion and his camcorder was damaged in the attack.
The journalists were attacked in the offices of the village council, as they attempted to interview a village official for an investigation by the Ukrainian Service’s anti-corruption program “Schemes” into the allocation for private use of state lands controlled by Ukraine’s National Academy of Agrarian Sciences.
Police responded to the scene and took statements from the RFE/RL journalists. The head of Ukraine’s National Police for the Kyiv region later announced that an investigation has been opened into the attack, under Article 171 of Ukraine’s criminal code, on the Obstruction of the Legal Professional Activities of Journalists.
“Schemes” reporters have been the targets of numerous efforts to obstruct their work. The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern for the safety of journalists working for “Schemes” after they reported being followed and surveilled in mid-February, allegedly by vehicles registered to a security company owned by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov. Police are also investigating this case under Article 171.
In September 2018, “Schemes” host Natalia Sedletska had to secure a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision to keep the Ukrainian government from accessing months of data collected on her cellphone as part of an investigation into the alleged disclosure of state secrets to journalists in 2017 by Artem Sytnyk, director of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine.
In November 2017, “Schemes” journalists were attacked while on assignment by masked men apparently working for prominent Ukrainian politician and businessman Victor Medvedchuk, and two months earlier, “Schemes” reporters (including Trotsenko) were assaulted by members of Ukraine’s presidential security team while looking into potential misuse of government assets at an event attended by high-ranking Ukrainian officials.
RFE/RL’s investigative program Schemes: Corruption in Details is an award-winning weekly program devoted to exposing high-level political corruption and abuse of public office in Ukraine. A joint production of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and Ukrainian Public Television (UA:Pershiy), it also airs on the private Ukrainian Channel 24, independent channel Hromadske TV, and on Facebook and YouTube.
RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, with a monthly average of over 4 million visits to its website, sets a standard in the Ukrainian media market for independence, professionalism, and innovation. Its comprehensive coverage includes the award-winning reporting of its Donbas Realities and Crimea Realities websites.