Journalists that revealed a secret vacation of Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Maldives being harassed
The President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Thomas Kent, made a statement in defense of the journalists from the Skhemy (Schemes) investigative journalism program, denouncing the attempts to interfere in the job of the journalists by trying to “subvert their reputation or intimidate them, online or in any other way,” Radio Liberty reports.
After the publication of the investigative report called “Mr. Petro Incognito, a Secret Vacation of the President”, in which journalists from Skhemy revealed details about a secret trip made by President Petro Poroshenko to Maldives, the video went viral on the Internet, scoring some 600,000 views on YouTube, and stirring up heated discussion and a fury of criticism from Poroshenko’s supporters who accused the journalists of a lack of integrity and bias.
In addition, the journalists themselves reported numerous hacking attempts on their email accounts, social media accounts, and messengers, as well as an army of bots and spammers attacking their materials.
“Eight months ago I asked Poroshenko about freedom of speech in Ukraine and the persecution of those who criticize the ruling power. It has been a week since we published the investigative report, “Mr. Petro Incognito. A Secret Vacation of the President”, and over the past week, hackers tried to break into my email and messengers and fake letters with fake financial transactions were sent, as well as messages with a warning ‘You are being watched’… This was a week of extreme pressure where I felt all the weight of the propaganda machine. It was a week of manipulation and insult,” Skhemy journalist, Mykhailo Tkach, wrote on Facebook.
The journalist also wrote that a number of questions raised in the investigative report were left unanswered, in particular, the question as to who paid for the Presidential flight Kyiv-Malé-Kyiv on a Falcon 7X business jet, which departed on January 1, 2018 and returned on January 8, 2018, what was the cost of the flight, how was it paid for, and other similar questions.
As it was earlier reported, on January 18, the Skhemy program revealed that President Petro Poroshenko spent the January 1 - 8 Christmas holiday in Maldives. According to the report, Poroshenko flew to Maldives on a chartered jet with seven passengers. Most likely, they did not go through customs and left the country under fake identities. The low end of the estimated costs of the secret vacation of the Ukrainian President was at least USD $500,000 (14 million in Ukrainian currency, hryvnia).
In a response to an inquiry from Skhemy the Presidential Administration said it was “a short vacation” that was paid for by the President’s personal finances, and assured that it will be reflected in his tax declaration.
“For security reasons it had been decided that information about the trip would be revealed post factum,” the official statement read.
President himself did not comment on the situation and did not answer any questions posed to him by the Skhemy program.