Vandals of journalist Yurii Nikolov's apartment received $1,000 payout

Maksym Tsutskiridze. Photo: National Police of Ukraine
Maksym Tsutskiridze. Photo: National Police of Ukraine

Police have stated that the criminals responsible for vandalising journalist Yurii Nikolov's apartment had received $1,000 from the person who requested the attack.

Source: Maksym Tsutskiridze, First Deputy Head of the National Police, Head of the Main Investigative Department of the National Police of Ukraine, in an interview with Censor.net

Quote: "Everyone [involved] got $1,000, according to early reports."

Details: Tsutskiridze said that the attackers accepted their task through a Telegram channel, and were required to submit video evidence of the crime taking place as one of the conditions for receiving their "bounty".

He noted that many similar criminal job postings are now made on Telegram channels, such as the 12 recent incidents of arson attacks on Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways) relay cabinets.

Regarding the suspected vandals of the journalist's apartment, Tsutskiridze explained that they were not detained because they are not suspected of a serious crime; the act they committed falls under Article 171.3 which does not allow pretrial detention.

Meanwhile, Tsutskiridze stated that due to public outcry and the possible destruction of material evidence, urgent searches were conducted for individuals implicated in the incident and pieces of evidence were taken into police custody, including phones and computer equipment, on which the crime itself was recorded.

During the interrogations, the organiser, who hired other participants in this attack through one of the Telegram channels, was identified.

Answering clarifying questions, Tsutskiridze noted that at this stage in the investigation, there is no confirmation that law enforcement agencies, including Ukraine's Security Service, were involved.

Quote: "Now we need to establish who [the Telegram organiser reported to] and who the 'customer' ordering this operation was.

And I would like to ask the media not to 'push' law enforcement officers, because the main thing here is to avoid making a mistake. We are continuing to investigate this incident and journalists will eventually be able to assess our work [when it is complete]."

Background: 

  • Yurii Nikolov, an investigative journalist, claimed that on 14 January, unknown people broke into his house in an attempt to intimidate him. Anonymous Telegram channels posted a video of men knocking on his apartment door and threatening him.

  • Kyiv police said they had begun investigating reports of threats against the journalist.

  • On 21 January, Kyiv's law enforcement agencies stated that they identified the individuals who broke into the home of investigative journalist Yurii Nikolov in order to impede his professional duties. They turned out to be from Kyiv, Zhytomyr, and Cherkasy oblasts. Police conducted searches of their homes and seized material evidence, including computer equipment and mobile phones.

  • According to Ukrainska Pravda, five people (including the organiser) were involved in the crime.

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