YanukovychLeaks Wins The Bobs “Best of Online Activism” Award

Published: 07 May 2014


dw-the-bobsBy Ana Baric

YanukovychLeaks has received the “Best of Online Activism” (The Bobs) award from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, in the “Reporters Without Borders” category.

The 10th annual award recognizes online activism and “efforts made to protect freedom of expression not just for the media, but also for individuals around the world.”

YanukovychLeaks is an online database that digitizes records recovered from former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s sprawling Mezhygirya estate outside of Kyiv, including many that were fished from a lake by volunteer divers.

Hours after Yanukovych fled the country on February 22, reporters flocked to the compound, and began recovering tens of thousands of papers thrown into the lake, working together to dry, sort, and organize the documents.

With the help of a team of more than 50 reporters and volunteers from the region, information detailing Yanukovych’s extravagant spending, financial investments, and press enemies was uploaded onto a site created by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) technical staff. A new, upgraded version of that site is about to be launched.

Among those first on the scene at Mezhygirya estate was OCCRP regional editor and Kyiv Post staff writer Vlad Lavrov.

When the site first went up, he told OCCRP, “Now we are occupying the site of Yanukovych’s corruption and investigating his wrong-doing…That’s amazing.”

Months later, the project continues to provide information about the Yanukovych regime. The Bobs jury member Renata Avila praised the site for giving the public complete and open access to the information. She said,  "You can use the files to support different opinions…but citizens can see all the information for themselves and decide for themselves how important it is, and what it means."

Lavrov said he hopes the award will “serve as an inspiration to the journalists who day by day have to work in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions and who are about to lose hope that one day their work will lead to any changes in their countries.”

He dedicated the award to all the volunteers “who greatly assisted us in rescuing the documents, and made sure we had everything we needed, without ever asking to be credited.”