Employees of the State Security Department, headed by Valery Heletei, assaulted journalists of the Schemes investigative project, according to video footage in Radio Liberty’s Schemes television program aired on Sept. 21.
Heletei and his subordinates denied there had been an assault, but their claim is contradicted by the video footage. The assault resulted in a cameraman suffering from concussion and other injuries.
State Security Department employees repeatedly tried to prevent the journalists from filming state officials, despite the journalists being in a public area. The attack took place during the wedding of Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko’s son in the wealthy Koncha Zaspa district south of Kyiv. President Petro Poroshenko and many other top officials attended the wedding. Schemes journalists argued that the use of the State Security Department for officials’ private purposes was an abuse of power.
Heletei, who was defense minister in 2014, has also faced accusations of negligence that resulted in the killing of hundreds of Ukrainian troops by the Russian army during the battle of Ilovaisk in August 2014. No top Ukrainian officials have faced charges as a result of the disastrous defeat at Ilovaisk.