On 14 January 2024, unknown men came to the home of Nashi Hroshi journalist Yuri Nikolov in Kyiv, demanding he open the door and “speak with them”, all while taping pieces of paper with the word “traitor” and other insults on his door, as well as threatening to use violence. The men, who claimed to be soldiers returning from the frontline, accused the journalist of being a “traitor” for refusing to fight in the war.

In a post on Facebook, Nikolov said he was not at home at the time of the event, and that the only people who heard the men were his elderly mother, who currently lives with him due to her medical condition, as well as his neighbors.

The only publicly available video of the incident was posted immediately after the event on the Russian-language Telegram channel Kartochniy Ofis (“Office of Cards”), which some public figures in Ukraine have linked to the office of President Zelensky. Leading online media outlet Ukrainska Pravda connected the posting of the video to a recent interview to the outlet given by Nikolov, in which he called Zelensky an “evader (of military service)”, arguing that Zelensky was “evading his obligation to lead a country at war”. Some journalists in the country have speculated that the apparent intimidation attempt may have been a response to the interview, though it is not clear who is responsible.

On January 15, Ukraine’s police force said it would verify the facts of the case. On January 21, police reported that it had detained five individuals accused of having directly participated in the intimidation attempt, adding that police officials had “conducted investigative actions” with them. On the following day, however, Nikolov reported that police had in fact released the suspects immediately after their detention without formulating accusations. Ukraine’s police force were not known to have denied this claim.

On January 28, a local media outlet from the city of Zhytomyr called Zhytomyr.City published a video showing two men with blurred faces, who claimed that an official of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) identified only as Oleksiy had contacted them and ordered the intimidation attempt, helping organize its logistics. Nikolov re-published the Zhytomyr.City video on his Facebook page without clearly stating whether he believed that this version of the facts was true. The SBU later issued a statement in which it said it was not involved in the intimidation attempt “in any way”.

In Ukraine, Nikolov is known as the author of the first major journalistic investigation into government corruption carried out after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. In January 2023, he reported on mass irregularities in the purchase of food products for the Ukrainian army. The investigation was widely covered in Ukraine and became known as “eggs for 17 hryvnias”, which was the reported price paid by the Ministry of Defence for a batch of goods, well above market prices at the time in Ukraine.

1 case
Europe: Ukraine
Verbal, online or physical attack: Verbal attack or intimidation by public (non online)