Kirill Vyshynsky

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On May 15, 2018, the Ukraine Security Service (SBU) searched the Kiev office of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti and detained the office director, Kirill Vyshynsky.

Vyshynsky's colleagues at RIA Novosti-Ukraine said he was detained near his home in Kiev, according to a report by the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). SBU spokesperson Olena Hitlyanska wrote on her Facebook page that the journalist was detained, but gave no further details.

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko as saying that the media activities of the news agency and Vyshynsky are anti-Ukrainian and amount to "state treason." Lutsenko added that the Ukrainian investigation into those activities "has evidence of carrying out well-paid anti-Ukrainian attacks" by RIA Novosti-Ukraine. Lutsenko did not elaborate on the alleged evidence.

Vyshynsky denied the charges in a September 2018 interview with Russian-language news online outlet Strana. 

The SBU claimed in an official statement that in the spring of 2014, Vyshynsky traveled to Crimea, where he personally took part in "propaganda campaigns aimed at supporting annexation and joining the peninsula to the Russian Federation" while working for the state-run RT news outlet, formerly Russia Today. For his work "in favor of the aggressor country in May 2014," the SBU alleged, Vyshynsky was awarded a medal by a private decree of the president of Russia.

According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which condemned the SBU raid and Vyshynsky's detention, Vyshynsky is a Ukrainian citizen with a Russian passport.

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, called the SBU's actions against RIA Novosti-Ukraine and Vyshynsky "disgraceful and scandalous," if related to his work, RFE/RL reported.

On May 14, 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree that affects RIA Novosti-Ukraine and Russian state-funded news outlets and journalists by restricting or suspending their access to Ukrainian telecommunications networks, CPJ reported.

Vyshynsky is being held in a detention center in Kherson, according to media reports. Russian media reported on September 5, 2018, that the journalist suffered from heart problems and was taken to a prison hospital. The Ukrainian officials denied that the journalist had health problems, media reported.

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