Russian State-Run Media Arm in Kyiv Exposed
Ukraine's Security Service conducted multiple searches of RIA Novosti Ukraine
A part of the Russian propaganda network has been exposed in Kyiv.
After a series of searches, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) detained the head of the news agency, RIA Novosti Ukraine, charging him with essentially acting as an arm of the Russian state-sponsored propaganda channel RT. RT was formerly known as Russia Today.
According to law enforcement, it was run by the head of the RIA Novosti Ukraine, Kyrylo Vyshynsky. Propaganda leaflets and cash evidence were found during five searches, which lasted for seven hours. Among the discoveries was Vyshynsky’s Russian passport.
The SBU reportedly confirmed that Vyshynsky’s agency received about a 100 thousand euros a month from Russia, funneled through Serbia. Half of these funds went towards propaganda. According to the investigation, Vyshynsky had been engaged in subversive activities for a long time. In 2014, he worked in Crimea, attempting to justify Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula. Later, he provided informational support to the occupation authorities of the “People’s Republics” in Donbas.
For his work, Vyshynsky received a state award from the Russian Federation. The SBU found this medal during their searches.
The deputy head of the SBU said that an hour after the searches began, RT’s leadership, the Russian minister of foreign affairs and Putin’s press secretary all reacted negatively.
The Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on Freedom of Speech reacted as well to the incident.
The SBU states that they do indeed have enough evidence for taking this drastic decision of detaining an editor of a news organization. However, the members of the parliamentary Committee on Security and Defense are afraid that legal loopholes may prevent punishment. The parliament plans to introduce “communicative security” to counteract Russian propaganda.
Earlier, the investigators categorized the nature of the offense as “treason.” However, the SBU has now revealed that Vyshynsky is officially suspected of state treason, Whether or not Vyshynsky will be arraigned, released on bail or remanded, will be decided today by a Ukrainian court. Vyshynsky has already been tranfered to Kherson.
Kremlin has already responded to the incident and called the actions of the SBU “outrageous.” Russia also sent Ukraine a protest note.
‘In spite of our multiple demands to stop the systematic use of force against the reporters working for Russian information agencies, the Ukrainian side breaches its international commitments and the internal law, offending the freedom of speech, interfering with journalist activity and the public expression of views, and oppressing correspondents,’ the Russian embassy wrote on its website.
Also, Russia promised to reciprocate.
The searches were conducted by the SBU in conjunction with the prosecutor’s office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.