January 12, 2024

12.01.2024 – SEEMO Condemns Violent Threats Against Ukrainian Journalist Oleh Baturyn Following Investigative Report

Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn (Олег Батурин), affiliated with the Center for Journalistic Investigations – Центр журналістських розслідувань (https://investigator.org.ua/ua/), is grappling with a disturbing episode of violent threats following his investigative report published on 31 December 2023. The report exposed the Russian connections of a representative of Kherson’s (Херсон) regional council in Ukraine, who allegedly recently registered his business in Russia and acquired a Russian passport. While the story lacked a byline, Baturyn shared it on Facebook, and shortly thereafter, he found himself targeted by a barrage of menacing messages, including rape threats and homophobic comments. These threats, originating from approximately five different sources on various social media platforms, prompted Baturyn to report the issue to the police on 4 January 2024. You can see the mentioned report here: https://investigator.org.ua/ua/news-2/pivden/262723/; You can also see the Oleh Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/oleh.baturin/posts/pfbid0RgV3rtq1XYNVC4ga9WittR5UKQDUGuMghw4MRRPK1vsC2Gx8VFzux3aNfvXj8Gn3l

The journalist contends that these threats are directly linked to his publication about this individual, as the perpetrators explicitly express support for this individual and advocate violence against Baturyn in response to the report. This troubling development raises significant concerns about the state of media freedom, particularly in the context of the ongoing conflict in the Kherson region.

Despite reporting the threats to the police, Baturyn remains apprehensive about his safety.

Further complicating the situation, Baturyn disclosed the alleged existence of a fake Telegram account bearing his name, photograph, and phone number, accompanied by a message soliciting sexual encounters. Concerned about potential misinformation dissemination, especially to individuals affiliated with the Russian occupation administration, Baturyn expressed heightened fears for his life and well-being.

In a bid to address the escalating situation, the police assured Baturyn of an investigator’s imminent contact on 6 January 2024, but as of 8 January 2024, he had not received direct communication from the investigator.

This alarming turn of events underscores the challenges journalists are facing in Ukraine, particularly those reporting on sensitive topics during times of conflict. Notably, this is not the first instance of threats against Baturyn. In 2019, he reported similar incidents to the police, which, unfortunately, were not registered. The situation calls for urgent attention and action to safeguard journalistic freedom and the safety of reporters operating in increasingly perilous environments.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) vehemently condemns the disturbing episode of violent threats and harassment targeting Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturyn following his investigative report on 31 December 2023. The threats, which include rape and homophobic comments, represent a blatant attack on press freedom and the safety of journalists in the Kherson region. We express deep concern about the alleged connections between the threats and Baturyn’s report, highlighting the urgent need for authorities to thoroughly investigate and address this matter. SEEMO calls on the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of Oleh Baturyn, promptly investigate the threats, and uphold the principles of media freedom. This incident underscores the precarious conditions journalists face and emphasizes the imperative to safeguard their well-being and freedom to report on sensitive issues without fear of reprisals.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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