Ukraine: RSF calls for an independent and thorough investigation into the case of an investigative journalist threatened with mobilisation

The Ukrainian justice system has opened an investigation into obstruction of journalists following revelations that the army tried to mobilise Yevhen Shulhat to prevent the publication of one of his articles. In the face of this unacceptable attempt at intimidation, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling for exemplary legal proceedings to ensure that this type of obstruction does not happen again.



Update on 10/04/24 : Following the disclosures of the investigative media on this affair, the head of the cybersecurity department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ilya Vityuk, suspected of being involved, was suspended from his duties on 9 April for the duration of the investigation. The head of the military police station in the Solomyanka district of Kyiv, who was responsible for mobilising the journalist, has been demoted to a lower position.

The judicial authorities opened the investigation on 8 April into the alleged attempt to intimidate Yevhen Shulhat, a reporter for the Ukrainian investigative media outlet They are treating it as a suspected case of “obstruction of journalistic work” and “abuse of authority by an official.”

The investigation is focusing on what took place when two soldiers stopped Shulhat as he was visiting a shopping centre in northern Kyiv on 1 April, and tried to give him a summons to report to a military police station, the first step in enlistment into the Ukrainian army.

In a video of the encounter filmed by Shulhat, the two soldiers began by calling him by his first name, implying that they already knew who he was. After questioning them about a connection with his journalistic work, Shulhat refused to take the summons they tried to give him.

The encounter took place three days before published an investigation by Shulhat into real estate property owned by Ilya Vityuk, head of the cyber-security department at the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The enlistment attempt may have been orchestrated directly by the SBU, said in an article published on 6 April. In the shopping centre surveillance video footage obtained by, the two soldiers are led to Shulhat by a man in civilian dress, who could be a SBU officer.

“This case is a serious attempt at intimidation, aimed at dissuading journalists from publishing investigations, on the threat of being mobilised. The Ukrainian investigative media play an essential role in the country, both in terms of war crimes and the fight against corruption. Although the opening of an investigation by the Ukrainian judiciary is a first step, RSF calls for it to be carried out independently, thoroughly and transparently, in order to identify those responsible and ensure that this type of threat does not happen again.

Jeanne Cavelier
Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk

This case has elicited many reactions from within military, political and media circles. In a joint statement published on 7 April, several Ukrainian organisations and media outlets called on the president, the defence ministry and the SBU to initiate criminal proceedings against the instigators of this targeted enlistment. 

Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, also called for an investigation, and Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the head of the Ukrainian parliamentary committee on freedom of expression, said he was following the matter closely. 

RSF already denounced attempts to threaten investigative media and reporters last January. They are still the subject of judicial investigations. 

Ukraine is ranked 79th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index. While its media landscape has seen an improvement in transparency and pluralism in recent years, it continues to be weakened by Russia’s attacks and abuses against Ukrainian journalists and by harassment on the part of the Ukrainian authorities.

61/ 180
Score : 65
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