On May 15, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) raided Kiev offices of Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti and TV channel RT.
The SBU detained Kirill Vyshynsky, who heads the Ukrainian bureau of RIA Novosti, and some other journalists, whom are now being questioned by security forces.
SBU spokesperson Elena Gitlyanskaya said in a Facebook post that these actions are part of an investigation into “a network of media structures used by Moscow to wage a hybrid war” against Ukraine.
The SBU suspects Vyshinsky of treason.
“We thought that he was a citizen of Ukraine. But a Russian passport was found during searches, in other words, this individual has a dual citizenship. Apart from legal proceedings, the issue of stripping him of Ukrainian citizenship will be addressed,” SBU Deputy Head Viktor Kononenko told media during a briefing. “At the moment, the violation of law is preliminary classified as the Part 1 of the Article 111 [of the Criminal Code of Ukraine], it is treason.”
Russia slammed the actions of Ukrainian authorities.
“If it is the case that the actions of Ukrainian law enforcement bodies are somehow connected with the professional work of these media organisations, that would be outrageous and scandalous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the issue.
He said that “any action against Russian media is unacceptable” recalling that the Ukrainian government has repeatedly “put pressure on freedom of speech” in the country.
Peskov also warned that Russia “will vigorously defend the interests of Russian media to the fullest extent.”
“This is not the first time when the Kiev regime tramples on fundamental rights and freedoms by persecuting journalists,” Dmitry Kisselev, the director of the public media conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya, the parent company of the raided media agencies, said.
RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said that the raids and arrests may be linked to the opening of the Crimean Bridge.
“Kiev decided to take revenge on us for the Crimean bridge,” she said on her Twitter feed.