KIEV, May 18. /TASS/. The RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency is unable to resume its work as the Ukrainian Security Service officials seized office computers during recent searches, one of the staff members told TASS on Friday.
"We still don’t have computers seized by SBU officials, so we can’t work," she said, adding that the situation was the same in the agency’s department operating its website.
She also confirmed that staff members, who were at the office during searches, had been called for questioning on Friday. "But my lawyer requested my questioning be delayed till Monday since a lot of people are going to be questioned today," she noted, adding that the request had been granted.
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 SBU called over 40 witnesses for questioning in Vyshinsky’s case. The chief editor was taken to the city of Kherson, where the city court arrested him for 60 days without bail. The charge against him is particularly based on a number of the journalist’s articles dedicated to the 2014 events in Crimea.