New York, July 20, 2020 — Ukrainian authorities should ensure journalist Katerina Sergatskova’s safety and investigate the threats against her, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On July 11, Roman Skrypin, a local journalist, posted on Facebook–where he has more than 130,000 followers–a photo of Sergatskova, chief editor of independent news site Zaborona, along with her son, her son’s name, and a picture purporting to be her home.
CPJ viewed screenshots of the posts, most of which were later deleted. Before they were deleted, commenters wrote Sergatskova’s address, threats of death and violence against her, and accusations that she supported Russia, Sergatskova told CPJ via messaging app. The photo of Sergatskova and her son was not deleted.
On July 13, Sergatskova fled her home in Kyiv, the capital, and went into hiding, saying she feared for her life and the lives of her husband and two children, according to the journalist and news reports.
Sergatskova told CPJ today that her lawyer filed a complaint with the police of the Shevchensky district in Kyiv, but said police refused to open an investigation. Her lawyer then filed a complaint with the central branch of the Ministry of Interior in Kyiv, she said.
“Ukrainian authorities should conduct a swift and fair investigation into the threats against journalist Katerina Sergatskova and her family, and hold the perpetrators accountable,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Sergatskova and her family’s safety should be ensured, and she should be able to continue her work as a journalist without fear for her life or the lives of her loved ones. Authorities must not ignore this journalist’s pleas for help.”
In his July 11 Facebook post, Skrypin wrote that Sergatskova should “go away” and “raise your son in Volgograd” in Russia. In other posts, which CPJ reviewed, Skrypin wrote about Sergatskova, who is originally from Russia, receiving her Ukrainian citizenship, and alleged that she was a Russian spy.
When CPJ contacted Skrypin via Facebook messenger, he said that he found the photos of Sergatskova from a publicly available source. He said he regarded CPJ’s request for comment as harassment and a violation of privacy.
Sergatskova received her Ukrainian citizenship in 2015, she told CPJ. She has worked in Ukraine for over 10 years, including for independent newspaper Ukrainska Pravda and independent broadcaster Hromadske, and reported from a conflict zone in Ukraine’s east, she said.
CPJ emailed Ukraine’s National Police in Kyiv for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.