UKRAINE, KHARKIV, Apr 15 — Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center’s activists report that on April 13, Dmytro Bulakh, the head of the organization’s executive board, accidentally found a video surveillance system installed opposite his front door. 

Activists say that the police confiscated the system and that they hope those behind the installation of the surveillance will be found. They added, “After a search conducted by SBU and DBR in Dmytro Bulakh’s [home], one can assume who installed [the system.]” 

Bulakh has served in the National Guard of Ukraine since spring of 2023. Formerly a local politician, he’s a head of the Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center, an organization that aims to expose corruption in Kharkiv and Kharkiv region, particularly government officials’ ties with Russia and public procurement abuses. 

On April 11, Bulakh wrote a Facebook post about DBR [State Investigation Bureau] and SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] showing up at his home with a court order and demanding to present “documents connected to his military service.” He reported authorities searched his flat and confiscated his phone. 

Oleksandr Bilka, the State Investigation Bureau’s spokesman for the Poltava territorial department, told Gwara Media that the bureau’s workers “are conducting a pre-trial investigation into alleged abuse of authority during the enlistment of military personnel.”  

Bilka said that “one of the persons involved” into the investigation is a representative of an anti-corruption organization, adding: “Criminal proceedings are absolutely not related to NGO-specific activities. Things that are related to the organization’s activity weren’t confiscated during the search.” 

The press service of one of the National Guard brigades confirmed to GM that Dmytro Bulakh serves there, saying there are no criminal or administrative violations [related] to him. “On the contrary, [we] only have good and positive reviews of this serviceman,” they said. 

Bulakh hasn’t been served a notice of suspicion, though authorities haven’t yet revealed his status within this criminal investigation. The Security Service of Ukraine didn’t comment on the case to GM as of April 15, 2024. 

Anti-Corruption Center’s co-founder, Yevhen Lysychkin, told GM, that Bulakh was surveilled in the past, both before and after mobilization. 

Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, called the criminal proceedings “fake” and said, “DBR and SBU’s actions that [aim] to pressure and discredit investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists are shameful and harmful for Ukraine.” 

Civil society representatives, including activists, NGOs, and other organizations and people, issued a statement to authorities to “stop persecution of anti-corruption activists and journalists.” 

Among related cases, activists mention Vitaliy Shabunin, head of the Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Action Center’s executive board. He volunteered to join the military in 2022 and found out DBR opened two criminal investigations against him over alleged military service evasion and document forgery on April 9. 

Activists also recall, a team of investigative journalists who published an investigation revealing that the Security Service of Ukraine illegally surveilled them for over a year after a video of some of the outlet’s workers using illegal recreational drugs on the corporate party appeared online. 

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