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I don’t care who paid for journalists to be spied on, investigators will find out

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that he does not care who paid for the illegal surveillance of Bihus.Info journalists, since the head of the relevant Security Service of Ukraine department has been fired and investigators will be able to discover the truth.

Source: President Zelenskyy during a press conference following the Ukraine.Year 2024 conference

Details: Zelenskyy was asked whether he knew who paid law enforcers  to spy on the journalists and whether he would replace the head of Ukraine’s Security Service if he knew about the illegal operation.

Quote from Zelenskyy: “The head of the relevant Security Service of Ukraine department, the Protection of Statehood Department, [Roman Semenchenko], has been fired, whether or not this person knew about what was going on; I don’t want to get involved in that, that’s something law enforcement officials are looking into. [Vasyl] Maliuk, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, said that he will disband the entire department. That’s his business.

I don’t care who’s behind it [the crime] – this person has been fired. Now the investigators will figure out who did it and whether someone paid for it.”

Background:

  • On 16 January 2024, a video was leaked to the Internet showing Bihus.Info investigation project employees allegedly using narcotic substances. Project manager Denys Bihus recorded a video message assuring the public that everyone who cooperated with Bihus.Info would undergo drug tests. All Bihus.Info journalists reported being followed and bugged, and launched their own investigation.

  • On 5 January, Bihus.Info journalists claimed to have identified those who had installed hidden cameras in hotel rooms to conduct surveillance of the editorial board. They were members of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).

  • The SSU said on 5 February that the leadership had made some “decisions” concerning the personnel of the Department for the Protection of National Statehood after the investigation by the Bihus.Info project about illegal surveillance of its journalists. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dismissed Roman Semenchenko, the head of the Department for the Protection of National Statehood of the Security Service of Ukraine.

  • On 6 February, Vasyl Maliuk, Head of the SSU, issued an official statement on the surveillance of the Bihus.Info journalists by employees of the Department for the Protection of National Statehood of the SSU. He said the head of the department had been dismissed.

  • On 6 February, members of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) voted to summon Maliuk to Parliament to hear his report on the Bihus.Info bugging.

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