Investigative journalism has often been deadly for the careers of corrupt politicians in Ukraine, with stories leading to resignations and even imprisonment. Now, under the conditions of martial law (including the closure of public data services) and limited opportunities for society to control the actions of the authorities, Ukrainian journalists became the main watchdogs over the government. This week they found out they were being watched, too.
Bihus.info, an investigative team exposing corruption among Ukrainian officials, came under attack. A questionable media outlet named People’s Truth released a video showing some Bihus employees (camera operators and social media managers) allegedly ordering and taking drugs at a New Year’s party. The description accompanying the video read: ‘After this, can we trust the investigations… if they were done under the influence?’. Denys Bihus, the company’s founder, immediately announced that all employees who used drugs at the event were fired and planned drug tests for the rest of the team. He also alleged that they had been under surveillance for about a year.
Nevertheless, wiretapping and surveillance is illegal and the video aimed to discredit Bihus. The video was taken on a camera hidden inside the building where the party took place, as well as on cameras from the street and tapped phone calls. People’s Truth seems far from legitimate; its YouTube channel has only published four videos in the past five years, the latest being the Bihus expose. The editor-in-chief’s ‘photo’ appears to be AI-generated, as well as ‘her’ bio. The National Police has already registered a statement from Bihus.info regarding the obstruction of journalistic activities and interference in personal life. The team also plans to submit a statement to the Security Service of Ukraine.
They were not the only ones who suffered this week: there was an attempted break-in at Yuriy Nikolov’s apartment.