A well-known Ukrainian reporter said Friday she had received a death threat after publishing an investigation into a gas company controlled by a relative of a former minister.
Kristina Berdynskykh, a reporter with pro-Western Ukraine’s independent weekly Novoye Vremya, received an anonymous text message which said she risked repeating the fate of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, who was found beheaded in 2000, if she did not halt her investigations.
In an article last month, the 32-year-old journalist accused Ukraine’s former energy minister Yuriy Boiko, who now leads a powerful pro-Russian opposition party, of corruption.
She pointed out that Boiko’s son-in-law Sergiy Gorovyi became the head of Kyivgas, the main gas supplier in the capital, during his stint as energy minister and remained at the helm ever since despite the company’s multiple violations.
“Kristina, one more piece of shit in your magazines about Kyivgas and a memorial to you will stand next to that of Gongadze,” said the text message, which she displayed on Facebook.
Gongadze became a symbol of freedom of expression in Ukraine after he was kidnapped and found beheaded in 2000.
Berdynskykh said this was the first death threat she had received in eight years of journalism.
She told AFP that police were looking into the issue.
The interior ministry confirmed they were handling the matter.
“We are in contact with her,” ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko told AFP. “We are taking care of this issue.”
Berdynskykh said she had received a lot of messages of support on Facebook as well as calls from “European Union representatives, police, lawyers, and journalists.”
In the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranked Ukraine 129 out of 180 countries.