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Ukrainian Appeals Court Overturns Decision To Release RFE/RL Journalists' Personal Data

Skhemy is an investigative journalism project that is jointly run by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershy. (illustrative photo)
Skhemy is an investigative journalism project that is jointly run by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershy. (illustrative photo)

KYIV -- A Ukrainian appeals court has overturned a lower court's ruling to allow investigators temporary access to editorial communication and other data of journalists working for a joint project of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershy television in a case that raised concerns about press freedom in the country.

Judge Olha Yurdyha of the Kyiv Appellate Court ruled on November 12 that the decision by Kyiv's Pechera District Court to allow temporary access to the information must be withdrawn and the investigators' request to obtain such access must be reviewed again by the same court.

Vira Krat, a lawyer representing the Skhemy (Schemes) joint venture, said she was pleased with the ruling.

"I hail the court's decision, because the [the Pechera District Court's] decision is canceled now, and there is no threat of searches of RFE/RL's offices. Our next step is to win the new hearing in the court of the first instance," Krat told RFE/RL.

The Pechera court on October 17 ruled to allow investigators of the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) to ascertain the work schedules and itineraries of the editorial staff, camera operators, and drivers, their salary information, and internal communications, including information regarding the correction-making and editing process as well as how decisions are made on what content is shown on their investigative programs.

The ruling was related to a DBR criminal investigation of whether former President Petro Poroshenko used "deliberately forged documents" and illegally crossed international borders when he and an unspecified number of people vacationed in the Maldives on January 1-8, 2018, which was the subject of a Skhemy investigation.

The journalism group aired its investigation on January 18, 2018, and in the program it hypothesized that Poroshenko may have used forged documents when traveling.

At a February 28, 2018, news conference, Poroshenko said he crossed the border using his name, "with my own passport that was properly registered with the border guards."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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