Non-governmental and human rights organizations of Ukraine demand thorough investigation of the surveillance of Mykola Vyhovsky

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The public figure Mykola Vyhovsky discovered 2 surveillance devices and bugs in his car in October.

Mykola Vyhovsky is a co-founder of the Euromaidan Civil Sector, the Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition, former coordinator of the Chesno Movement, a participant of the Who Ordered the Murder of Kateryna Handziuk initiative, a co-organizer and host of demonstrations in support of Serhiy Sternenko and against police brutality, and a co-organizer of the March for Kyiv, which had stopping chaotic development in the city as one of its key demands.

On 12 October 2021, Mykola Vyhovsky found an unidentified rectangular object covered with thermal film and attached to the bottom of his car with a magnet for the first time. When Mykola took it apart, he found that it was a GPS tracker, a device to monitor movement. The activist sent the device to professionals for expert examination, and he promises to publish their conclusions soon to the extent that it is acceptable and does not hinder the investigation.

After this, Mykola Vyhovsky left his car at a garage to find out whether any other surveillance devices had been installed in it, and to diagnose any intentionally caused damage which could make the car malfunction and cause an accident. The electrician at the garage found a device attached behind the car radio which fed off the car battery. Later it turned out that the device is a bug to listen to conversations. The activist is also examining this device with the experts.

On 8 November, Mykola Vyhovsky reported the crime to the Security Service of Ukraine. His attorneys see the actions described above as a violation of the sanctity of private life and illegal use of special technical equipment for obtaining information. Mykola Vyhovsky explained the submission of a report to this law enforcement agency in particular by saying that he believes that persecution of activists is a direct threat to national security, and the Security Service is the agency that should respond to such crimes. Because responsibility for the criminal violations in question by unidentified individuals is provided in Articles 182 and 359 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, attacks on Ukrainian human rights advocates and civil activists remain a systemic practice, and the criminals usually go unpunished. In some cases, the victims speak about the ineffectiveness or open sabotage of the investigations of these crimes. According to a monitoring report by the ZMINA Human Rights Centre, 88 cases of persecution for civil activism have been recorded in the first 9 months of 2021, and their number is constantly growing. According to this monitoring, activists who oppose corruption or illegal construction are one of the most vulnerable groups.

We call on the law enforcement agencies to ensure a proper investigation of this case, to identify the individuals involved in it and to bring them to responsibility.

ZMINA Human Rights Centre

Centre for Civil Liberties

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