Ukrainian Investigative Outlet Targeted with SLAPP Over Reporting
Manipulation of Ukrainian Electronic Judge Distribution System Raises Questions of Fair Trial as Court Proceedings Begin
October 10, 2023 - The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) strongly condemns the SLAPP lawsuit filed against our Ukrainian member center Slidstvo.info by an alleged proxy in a suspected money laundering case that Slidstvo.Info, OCCRP, and others wrote about in May.
Following the publication of the investigation, Ukrainian citizen Serhiy Semeniuk filed a lawsuit for “the protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation” against the editorial team of Slidstvo.Info and journalist Yanina Korniienko.
At the same time, Semeniuk’s legal team attempted to manipulate the electronic judge distribution system, which automatically assigns a judge who will preside over the case. In order to achieve this, his lawyer repeatedly submitted and withdrew the lawsuit until the system allocated the desired judge. Court proceedings in the case began in September.
The May investigation uncovered that cleaning firms linked to Russian businessman Eduard Apsit have been providing cleaning services for many years to Ukrainian strategic facilities, such as those that deal with railways and airports, through businesses operated by Semeniuk. At the time of publication, Apsit was also in the orbit of Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“The connections revealed in this incredible story can only be uncovered by investigative reporting — which must be protected at all costs for the public interest,” said OCCRP Publisher Drew Sullivan. “This is the 64th SLAPP suit filed against our network to try to intimidate us and silence our reporting. We stand by this rock-solid investigation and will support Slidstvo in the fight against this bogus lawsuit.”
For more information, please contact Head of Communications Lauren Jackman at firstname.lastname@example.org.