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Bihus.Info investigative journalism project: video of employees’ drug use leaked online – video

Tuesday, 16 January 2024, 15:48
Bihus.Info investigative journalism project: video of employees’ drug use leaked online – video
Screenshot: Denys Bihus

Denys Bihus, the director of investigative journalism project Bihus.Info, has released a message after a video purporting to show staff members using drugs was posted online. In his video message, Bihus apologised and promised that all his associates would undergo drug tests. Bihus.Info says that its staff members had been bugged and followed for a minimum of several months.

Source: Denys Bihus in a statement on the project’s YouTube channel; Maksym Opanasenko, editor at Bihus.Info, in a comment to hromadske

Details: On 16 January, a video appeared on the Narodna Pravda website captioned "The dark side of Bihus.Info: they snorted meth, took MDMA, smoked weed, then went off to investigate".

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The video includes clips from project workers' tapped phone conversations and hidden-camera footage from an "office party" held in a house outside Kyiv on New Year's Eve.

Denys Bihus, director of the project, released a statement that same day to "set the record straight".

He clarified that the employees featured in the eye-opening video are camera operators rather than journalists, and that they have all been fired.

Quote: "The bugging and surveillance were of course illegal, and the aims of those who made the recording are clear. But that’s no excuse for what we saw on the video – namely the use of prohibited substances by several of our colleagues," the investigative journalist said.

Bihus said that regrettably, some team members had gone against the guiding principles and values of the Bihus.Info project. As a result, difficult personnel changes will have to be made, and the project is now looking for new camera operators.

Quote: "We would also note that in addition to the unpleasant truth, there is also manipulation  in the title of the video. It alleges drug use by journalists. That is not true, and you can see that from the video itself.

Everyone who works with Bihus.Info will be taking drug tests today. We will let our viewers know the results on our Telegram channel.

We sincerely apologise to our audience."

Update: Bihus.Info editor Maksym Opanasenko told hromadske that the project’s staff members had been monitored and bugged for a minimum of several months. The project’s team is now investigating who could have been behind this.

"We can see that the bugging and surveillance went on for a long time – several months at least. As of now, we have no evidence and are unable to say who is behind this – whether it was someone subordinate to the President's Office or someone else," he said.

Opanasenko mentioned that Bihus.Info staff members have a lot of experience of this type of work and have connections to many officials and law enforcement personnel. Furthermore, Opanasenko emphasised, recent investigations by the project had involved particularly sensational material on law enforcement officers.

"We cannot rule out that this was an attempt to exert pressure through such harassment,"  the editor concluded.

Bihus.Info is reported to be considering reaching out to law enforcement agencies with regard to the surveillance of its employees, in addition to working on their own to find out who is behind this.

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