A top official at Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency was fired following revelations that investigative journalists in the country had been surveilled, according to media reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy approved the firing, a source said.
The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, which identified three relevant cases, called for investigations.
In one case, the investigative outlet Bihus.info reported on Monday it had been under surveillance by the SBU, the Security Service of Ukraine. The intelligence agency later confirmed the monitoring but said it had acted as part of an investigation into drug trafficking.
In another case, Odesa-based journalist Iryna Hryb reported in January that she found a device in her car that could be used to listen to her phone calls or discussions with passengers and track her movement.
In the third case, masked individuals tried to force their way into the Kyiv apartment of investigative reporter Yuriy Nikolov on January 14. He was threatened with forcible enlistment to fight in the Ukrainian army, according to RSF.
Speaking about the surveillance of Bihus.info, SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk condemned these actions and announced internal measures against the “people involved.”
A source with the SBU told Agence France-Presse this week that “the head of the SBU state protection department, Roman Semenchenko, was fired as a result of the surveillance of Bihus Info staff.”
Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said these cases are connected because all three involved journalists covering corruption linked to the Ukrainian elite.
“Journalists must be able to work in Ukraine without being spied on, followed or threatened,” Cavelier said in a statement. “The Ukrainian media landscape draws its strength from these journalists, who continue their investigative reporting despite the war.” Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.