14/12/2018 13:20

Hybrid repressions the Ukrainian police is armed with

Dmyto Kaluzhnuy,  – Police officer Yevgeny Shevtsov and his wife Alyona Shevtsova (Degrik) launch a large-scale campaign of persecution of Ukrainian journalists, defending the secret of financing the DPR terrorists.

Reformed after the revolution and pinned with great hopes, the new police is now, on the eve of the presidential elections in Ukraine, returning to methods of intimidating opinion leaders. An alarming signal for the West is the avalanche of criminal cases, which has threatened the freedom of journalists and popular bloggers to speak out. This investigation is dedicated to a Ukrainian police officer and a businesswoman who deals with online payments, a married couple who have upgraded the repressive machine after they had found how to extract personal data of media workers and blackmail them. This detective story vividly illustrates the tendency of security officials to try to take control of the media even in a democratic setting.

This summer in Ukraine, a competition was held to fill high posts in the newly created State Bureau of Investigation, an analogue of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, odious individuals got on the list of candidates, and the contest was canceled. Obviously, the public played a large role in this decision: journalists and bloggers closely monitored the selection of candidates, and wrote a lot about the achievements and failures of each of them.

The subsequent prosecution of media and public relations figures coincided with the final decision to stop the competition. Suddenly, articles about the candidates started to disappear from news sites, and the cleansing in the media field began, including D-dos attacks. Without explaining the reasons, a well-known journalist of the 1 + 1 channel Alexander Dubinsky removed his posts that exposed one of the candidates convicted of legalizing dirty money. Further, the cleansing became so obviously focused around the articles about this candidate that it became clear that after losing the contest in the SBI, he went for broke.

Yevgeny Shevtsov is the Deputy Director-General, Head of Central Investigation Department of the National Police. Now there is practically no information about him in the public domain: no biography, no cases that he investigated earlier, etc. It is known that he is married to a business woman Alyona (nee Degrik), who owns a number of financial companies that deal with online payments.

We will revisit the hard-hitting materials that the couple is trying to hide, but first, there is continuation of the story about the attack on the media, which is not so harmless as it seemed at first glance.

On November 15, the security forces conducted a series of searches and arrested popular Kiev bloggers Vasyl Krutschak and Alexander Baraboshko, as well as the host of a popular program “Iceland”, political consultant Vladimir Petrov, and a number of his employees. The reason for the arrests was an evil joke on the social networks of another police officer, Yevgeny Shevtsov’s colleague. However, the cases were not filed because of the joke, but under Criminal Code articles — for violating privacy, interfering with the work of a law enforcement officer, and so on. Previously, all three had sharply criticized the candidates for the SBI contest.

In the same period, miracles began to occur on popular information resources: the Obozrevatel website, which is among the top ten most widely read media in Ukraine, came up with an article in which it actually invalidated the results of its previous exposure of Yevgeny Shevtsov and his wife Alyona, justified the source of their high income, and in the end, there was even praise: “… Shevtsov’s wife is one of the most successful businesswomen in Ukraine. The couple has not been involved in any scandal.”

At the same time, Obozrevatel, the 112 Channel website, and other well-known media deleted their own articles that contradict this statement.

Journalists refuse to comment on what is going on. In the meantime, their less compliant colleagues continue to be harassed.

Famous journalist Vladimir Koval, who began to talk about the pressure he experiences through usage of his personal data and intimidation of his relatives and friends, was sitting in a pizza restaurant on January 28, when police officers burst into the building. There is no need to add that he also criticized the work of law enforcement agencies and the competition in the SBI.

The police did not have a court decision, and the search was allegedly carried out “as an urgent action with the goal to rescue the people inside the restaurant.” As the journalist explains on his Facebook page, “this whole circus was needed only to steal my phone: an unknown person snatched it out and started running away, and when he disappeared in the doorway and I ran after him, he was backed up by prosecutors who came inside the restaurant and blocked the doors.” “Later, the phone turned out to be in the hands of the prosecutor Poznyak, who could not explain how this happened, joking that it was not he who took it,” the journalist wrote.

He also reveals the secret that surrounds the mechanisms of intimidation of media figures (after all, no one has formally brought any legal charges against them). “I found out that some public people who I could have public disagreements and conflicts with received offers to help “to confidentially settle accounts with me” with some posh phrases like “once and for all.” — the journalist writes in his blog. “Some of them even unblocked me to warn of this.”

And now, let’s revisit the married couple and the information, disclosed by authors who now have to be on their guard, no matter where they are.

Before the cleansing, many wrote about the unreasonably large incomes of the policeman’s family: Rolex watches, Range Rover and Mercedes GL cars, private houses near Kiev, and so on. One of the members of the SBI internal commission Alexander Lemenov called Shevtsov’s capital “fantastic”. There were also articles about the involvement of the policeman and his wife in laundering money obtained by illegal means. For example, the post that mysteriously disappeared from the page of journalist Aleksandr Dubinsky contained scanned copies of the 2017 court decision (the copies are still available) which state that the prosecutor’s office opened a criminal investigation: “It was established that citizen A. Shevtsova (Degrik), in collusion with (…) and Y. Shevtsov, created an illegal mechanism for legalizing income obtained by illegal means through the import of digital / electronic goods and services by banks, non-bank financial institutions, and other economic entities. ”

However, it was not this information that became the main focus of the media cleansing, but another, much more painful for the Ukrainian society. There is a court decision in the state registers, which includes the criminal proceedings of the Security Service of Ukraine №22017000000000064 as of February 20, 2017. According to the case files, Alyona Shevtsova’s company OOO Leo-Partners participated in the transfer of Webmoney title units to the territory of Ukraine that is temporarily controlled by illegal armed groups of DPR / LPR. “Later, the title units were converted into foreign currency and cashed in order to finance and provide material support for the activities of the mentioned terrorist organizations, as well as to withdraw funds abroad,” investigators say.

The existence of a criminal case on sponsoring terrorism against the Shevtsov family company may be the key to understanding why he and his wife started the dirtiest work of persecuting the journalists. However, it is yet to be found out who is behind this and who allows them such freedom of action. The answer to this question will be the subject of the next journalistic investigation. And we hope that the workers of the Ukrainian media and bloggers will help us, despite the harassment and intimidation by the security forces!

Western partners get their priorities straight in their cooperation with Ukraine. Among the first are freedom of speech, ease of doing business, and the fight against corruption. The amount of assistance in the fight against terrorism in the East depends largely on the extent of Ukraine’s responsibility in these matters. Therefore, the activities of the Shevtsov family cannot be ignored by the West because they tie all of the above into one knot. Conflict of interest inherent in the high office post of the husband and the financial frauds of his wife; signs of corruption such as “fantastic” incomes of the policeman; the absence of any sanctions against them after a grand scandal in the media; and most importantly, the almost overt persecution of journalists, not only criminal, but also personal, through blackmail and creation of problems. And all this takes place when there is an open criminal case on sponsoring terrorists by a family company of a high-ranking police officer, who was not put out of commission at the time of the investigation, and was nearly appointed to the new position in the SBI.

Will this knot become a new business card of the reformed Ukrainian police, or will the system find the strength to stop at least repression against freedom of speech, which is a sign of totalitarian regime that puts the clock back for the country?

Dmyto Kaluzhnuy, prukraine.com