VELIKY NOVGOROD, May 21. /TASS/. The case of Kirill Vyshinsky, the Chief Editor of the RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency charged with high treason, creates a dangerous precedent that may set the wheel of repression in motion in Ukraine, Russian Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told TASS.
"We believe that this precedent is highly dangerous for Ukrainian journalism because it may only be the beginning," said Volin on the sidelines of the Fort Ross Dialogue conference. "No one can guarantee that tomorrow some Ukrainian journalists will not be accused of high treason after they write something against the Ukrainian authorities or mention issues Ukraine has been facing. Witch hunt is a very dangerous occupation… It also devours those who initiate it because the wheel of repression does not stop once it gets moving," he added.
Volin also called for evaluating the Vyshinsky case on all international platforms, as well as in Russia and Ukraine.
"When a person fulfilling his duties as a journalist is charged with committing high treason and participating in an information war against Ukraine, it destroys all the standards concerning relations between the government and journalists and creates a very dangerous precedent that brings us back not to the 20th century but to the beginning of the 19th if not the 18th century," the Russian deputy minister noted.
On May 15, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) carried out a large-scale operation against RIA Novosti Ukraine staff members, accusing them of high treason. The news agency’s Chief Editor Kirill Vyshinsky was detained outside his home early on Tuesday. Soon after that, searches were conducted in the news agency’s Kiev office and press center, as well as in some journalists’ apartments. At the same time, the SBU issued a statement claiming that "a network of media structures, which Moscow used for carrying out a hybrid war" against Kiev had been exposed.
The Russian embassy in Kiev demanded that the Ukrainian authorities take all the necessary measures to stop violence against media workers, immediately release the detained journalist, launch an impartial investigation into the incident and punish those abusing power. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that Moscow had sent two notes of protest to Kiev over Vyshinsky’s case.
The journalist was taken to the city of Kherson, where the city court arrested him for 60 days. The high treason charge against him is particularly based on a number of the journalist’s articles dedicated to the 2014 events in Crimea. Vyshinsky rejected the charge and his defense filed an appeal against his arrest.