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Ukrainian Journalists Recognized For Uncovering Fake News And Corruption

Ukraine -- Schemes reporter Valeriya Yegoshyna questions employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) about their luxury cars.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Ukrainian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, is celebrating the talent of two of its journalists who have been recognized in separate contests for uncovering fake news and corruption in their country.

Freelancer Yevgeniya Tyukhtenko is the winner of the “Catch The Fake!” contest in the category of “Finding Fake Images In Mass Media” in a competition organized by the Institute Of Mass Information, and reporter Valeriya Yegoshyna has made the shortlist for the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award.

The article that won Tyukhtenko the Catch The Fake! contest exposed the false story accompanying a photo shared widely on social media as well as by some Russian media channels. The photo, titled "Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) fighter leaves his girlfriend for Moscow,” shows a Ukrainian serviceman hugging a woman next to a train that was allegedly departing for Moscow.

Under further inspection, however, social media users were quick to find the original photo, in which the destination in the train’s window reads “Uzhgorod,” not “Moscow.” Tyukhtenko tracked down the soldier in the original version, who was outraged by the misuse and misrepresentation of his photo.

Recognition for Tyukhtenko’s investigative work “did not happen by chance,” said RFE/RL Ukrainian Service Director Maryana Drach. Tyukhtenko actively contributes to the Ukrainian Service’s project Deza, which has been monitoring disinformation since 2014. Her winning story sparked many reactions among readers who “not only learned the truth, but also wondered why others so actively share fake news,” added Drach.

The contest was held with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and winners were announced October 23.

Ukraine: REF/RL Ukrainian Service journalist Yevgeniya Tyukhtenko accepts "Catch The Fake" award.
Ukraine: REF/RL Ukrainian Service journalist Yevgeniya Tyukhtenko accepts "Catch The Fake" award.

The investigative work that put Yegoshyna on the shortlist for the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award revealed potential corruption among officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), whose official salaries and property declarations do not match their luxury living standards.

The video report, which focuses on the luxury cars in a parking lot for employees of the SBU’s Economic Department, also won her the 2018 National Investigative Journalism Award at the Mezhyhirya Festival in June.

“Valeriya has the ability to go after often difficult stories which have many underground layers,” said Drach.

In partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA), the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award selected the stories of twelve journalists aged 30 and under from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than $20,000, based on their originality and impact. Yegoshyna and two other finalists are vying for the award, which will be announced November 26 at a gala dinner in London.

With a monthly average of over 4 million visits to its website, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service sets a standard in the Ukrainian media market for independence, professionalism, and innovation.