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24.3 24.65
26.7 27.25
Politics 2019-09-22T19:33:59+03:00
Ukrainian news
Sergiy Ivanov, journalist: Policing the Internet. How National Police Introduce Internet Censorship

Sergiy Ivanov, journalist: Policing the Internet. How National Police Introduce Internet Censorship

The easiest way for the current regime to become the former one is to start a war with the media; and it doesn't matter how good the regime or bad the media is, or vice versa, and whether this is a long-term or a short-term issue. The media communicates between the government and the public and stimulates the tone and responsibility of the government, and no social networks or other high-quality surrogates of a direct action can change this order of things.

Poroshenko's collapse began with the baiting of journalists. Neither the bot farms, nor the pocket TV channels, nor the billions in advertising budgets helped. This is a very vivid, enlightening and, most importantly, resent example from which the successors of Poroshenko's administration should draw a conclusion. However, based on the recent statement made by Andriy Bogdan, the Head of the Office of the President, that the government may communicate with the public without the assistance of journalists, they never actually got to that. And there is no wonder that the slighting and scornful mode of communication of the Office of the President with the media is transmitted down across vertical and takes the form of blunt savagery, where the officials always monkey the top. Today we'll talk about one such case.

The National Police started blocking disagreeable media resources. On July 23, 2019, Sergiy Vovk, a notorious judge of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv, based on the petition filed by the National Police, ruled to require all Ukrainian Internet providers and satellite phone network operators to block 18 web resources, among which there were a number of well-known sites in Ukraine – the Enigma, the Informator, as well as the blogging platform of the Correspondent.net. Justifying his decision, Mr. Vovk noted that the resources were used for extortion, so they were subject to arrest. But if we look at the supporting material that led to this conclusion, we will see that it all relates to the family of one official who initiated this attack. This involves Evgen Shevtsov, the Deputy Chief of the Investigative Directorate of the National Police, and Olena Degryk, his wife.

For the first time, Yevgen Shevtsov became the focus of the media last year. The police officer participated in the competition to fill the position of the Head of the First Department of Pre-trial Investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation, but he failed. The competition was covered by almost all domestic media, several of which drew attention to Shevtsov's wife, Olena Degryk. The journalists found that, as is often happen in nomenclatorial families, the lion's share of the income comes from the wife. She holds titles on the apartments, a country house and other assets. Olena's business that includes a number of e-commerce companies also raises many questions. Structures of Shevtsov's wife under the brand Leogaming provide services for accepting and processing payments for several online casinos, the best known of which is Pari-Match, a betting shop.

Formerly affiliated to Degryk structures have already appeared in a criminal record as regards money laundering and money transfer to the temporarily occupied territories. It is about, for example, transactions with the bookmakers, where their operations are officially prohibited in Ukraine, which does not prevent them from accepting bets, buying currency and wiring the money abroad, including to offshore accounts and in Russia. In fact, this is money laundering and tax evasion. Mrs. Degric-Shevtsova is one of the figures named in the Panama Papers as she is a beneficiary of three offshore companies in India and the Virgin Islands – High Plains International Ltd, Laurus International Limited, and Proventus International Limited, but all these cases did not affect Elena in any way as her husband's high position and influence are a good umbrella for small and not very life-changing problems.

A separate direction of the shadow business of Shevtsov's wife is payments made by users of computer games when real money is converted into a virtual currency, which is used as a mechanism of money laundering. The scheme is as follows – a person deposits cash into the general game account through the ATM or cash desk. This money is then wired to a general transit account and then to the account of any top international bank that works with offshore companies. After that, the amounts necessary for money laundering are converted into gambling money that is not subject to regulation by any financial regulator around the world. Money involved in gambling gets distributed, acquires necessary attributes assigned to it by the system following its algorithms (winning, purchasing digital goods and in-game items, internal transactions) and then a reverse conversion takes place. It is almost impossible to track this flow of funds.

Olena does not hide who exactly is the criminal genius in the Shevtsov-Degryk family. In an interview with Viva she boasted that her husband is not only aware of her problems, but also develops options for solving them.

'He is a tremendous analytical thinker, a man not only able to concentrate quickly on a problem, but to immediately compartmentalize it and find out what result is really important to me and which one can be painlessly ignored, as well as to simplify the problem to a minimum. It also surprises me that my husband acts like a real chess master. He can easily and gracefully foresee all the consequences of each possible 'chess' move. Second, unlike me, he makes very accurate decisions that are as good as possible,' MrsDegryk says.

What moves does Mr. Shevtsov foresee? It is unlikely that the interview is about day to day matters, so it can be assumed that he is the brain center in the business empire of his wife and designs schemes for Leogaming. By the way, the material about Mr. Shevtsov's interests in 'cashing out' is now under preparation for publication and you will soon learn about them.

The resonance in the media that suspected Mr. Shevtsov of illegal business played an important role in his failure to run for office in the National Bureau of Investigation despite he was selected by a competition committee. Moreover, some of the criminal proceedings against the Shevtsov family commenced earlier were referred for investigation to the National Bureau of Investigation in 2019, to where the police officer was really anxious to get. This is evidenced by court rulings available in the proceedings carried out by the National Bureau of Investigation.

The failure to pass over the competition and the prospect of being left without a post have angered Mr. Shevtsov and he has declared war on the media which published material about his family business. Mr. Shevtsov considered the publication of his family wealth – real estate, cars, and business – as an invasion of privacy and to fight against this invasion he decided to use the powers of the Investigative Unit of the National Police instead of personnel pools.

The main target of revenge from Mr. Shevtsov was Denys Ivanov, a son of the President of the Academy of Ukrainian Press Valeriy Ivanov (the author of the article is not a relative of these persons and the name coincidence is accidental). Searches and account arrests have begun. Subsequently, Mr. Ivanov's lawyers reported of death threats received by his wife and children, after which his family travelled abroad. But his parents stayed in Ukraine and they are actually being held hostage by the investigation. The National Council for Journalism Ethics and the National Union of Journalists filed before the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and the Chief of the National Police Sergiy Knyazev complaints of the facts of pressure on the Professor of the Kiev Institute of Journalism Valery Ivanov. No response followed. Meanwhile, the persecution of Denis Ivanov's father continues – the publication of fake news, disruption by the titushkas of scientific events with his participation, and administrative pressure. It seems that they're looking down on Shevtsov's confrontation with the media with interest – whether or not he will be able to 'catch up' with his offenders taking advantage of his status. Not only his business but also his place within the police food chain depends on the success of revenge, because losers are in low esteem there.

Mr. Shevtsov's victory will mean that the complex technology of act of retribution against the journalists is established, tested and works. This also shows that under Shevtsov's direction the enforcement agencies have brought up a 'big brother' for the media with almost unlimited powers. Now, under the pretext of criminal prosecution of mythical crime groups the law enforcement agencies via the courts will be able to block access to any site through censorship. The enforcement agencies also started to use the dirtiest Internet technologies in the best traditions of Russian propagandists – black PR and fakes. There had been a recent project on the network whose authors do not hide their goal – it is a black PR aimed at Mr. Shevtsov's opponents. This 'newsgroup' threatens not only Mr. Ivanov, but also all media that had the courage to publish data on Mr. Shevtsov. 'If the editors-in-chief of the aforementioned media do not want to publish objective material on the Mr. Ivanov's family and criminal cases, Ukrainian society will receive another confirmation of the biased attitude of the said media to certain people. There will be no point in trusting and reading your media,' the group page says. Doesn't that mean that the police really plan to leak the dirt and put some pressure on the media editors to influence their audience? Probably it does. A recent example: on August 8, Mr. Platov, an investigator of the Chief Investigation Department of the National Police called for papers from the Academy of Ukrainian Press in a criminal investigation. Just in a couple of hours the scans of documents with threats were made public on the Internet. That means that someone deliberately and very promptly disclosed the secrecy of the investigation, which is a crime. It's obvious who was interested in this leak, but the National Bureau of Investigation to where the Academy applied, for some reason, is in no hurry to commence proceedings and to clarify Mr. Shevtsov's family involvement in this crime.

***

Today, we face the threat of using by the law enforcement officers of technology that can destroy any media. Now, after the publication of an investigation involving an official, a 'victim' may not prove his case in a civil court, but simply file a complaint with the police stating that he or she is allegedly being tried to blackmail. The proceedings are commenced, and the media is arrested as an evidence. It's much easier and faster. And this is a very dangerous precedent as freedom of speech is about the only indisputable asset of Ukrainian society, with the loss of which we will stagnate for good and all.


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