Another attack on journalists investigating Interior Ministry corruption
For the second time in the space of a few weeks, investigative journalists probing corruption within the Interior Ministry have come under attack. The film crew was from the same programme whose findings recently led to top Traffic Police official Oleksandr Yershov losing his job.
The film crew from the programme ‘Schemy: Corruption in Detail’ run by the First National TV Channel and Radio Svoboda was attacked in Kominternivske, near Odesa.
Journalist Maria Tymoshchuk and cameraman Maxim Lenko were on a work-related task near the office of Lemodo, a firm which recently won an Interior Ministry tender to provide vehicle number plates worth 70 million UAH. The company is registered in the Odesa oblast, and up till this successful tender had never been engaged in such activities.
According to Tymoshchuk, they arrived at what proved to be the extremely modest Lemodo office. The one room was closed, and they photographed the sign on the door, and spoke with people in other offices. Somebody ran up to them shouting that they mustn’t film there, that they didn’t have permission, and smashed their video camera.
The journalists have filed a complaint with the police over obstruction of their legitimate journalist work (Article 171 of the Criminal Code).
This is the third time over recent weeks that Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has received extremely negative publicity.
On May 14, Avakov’s deputy Serhiy Chebotar was forced to resign after investigative journalists from the TV ZIK programme ‘Nashi hroshi’ [‘Our Money]] were set upon by the security guards when they tried to photograph a large house which, despite Chebotar’s denials, did prove to be owned by the Deputy Minister’s wife.
This attack follows scandalous details about the sumptuous lifestyle of the former acting head of the traffic police, only appointed by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov at the beginning of April. The story, also reported by the Skhemy programme, together with pictures of the cars all members of his family drive and the countless business class holidays his daughters had been on in the last 6 months resulted in Yershov’s dismissal. It also highlighted clear shenanigans with the expensive cars and motorbike which Yershov and members of his family drove holding Interior Ministry number plates with these registered as being entirely different car models.
This is likely to have been the reason for the new journalist probe, making the attack particularly disturbing.