The investigative journalism agency filed a lawsuit against Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on March 12, 2024, seeking to uphold transparency laws and defend its journalists’ right to access public information.

The legal action was initiated on behalf of reporter Ihor Yushchenko after the legislature refused his request, under freedom of information legislation, to provide certain state-held data for an investigative story he was pursuing.

On January 2, February 1, and February 8 of this year, Slidstvo.Info journalists sent inquiries to the Verkhovna Rada’s Secretariat requesting information about MPs’ business trips abroad since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The editorial board received the same answers twice, stating that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine did not have the requested information, which needed to be summarized and analyzed.

“…a document containing the information you requested is not created or held by the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, but can only be obtained by summarizing and analyzing the data. In accordance with subparagraph 3 of paragraph 2 of the Order of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine No. 393 of May 11, 2011, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is not an information manager for requests for information… that can be obtained by generalization, analytical processing of data or requires creation in another way,” the response to journalistic inquiries reads.

Відповідь Апарату Верховної Ради України на запит редакції

Response of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the editorial request

In response to the third request from journalists, the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada has abandoned its previous wording, citing the limited dissemination of information about the activities of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, its bodies, and members of parliament due to the martial law in effect. Specifically, the response letter states that foreign visits by members of parliament have gained significant importance.

“The result of negotiations and consultations with international partners is an increase in the volume of military and humanitarian aid important for the country, laying the groundwork for economic stabilization and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine,” the Verkhovna Rada said.

The Secretariat also pointed out that the dissemination of the requested information could harm national security interests, which would significantly outweigh the public interest.

“Restriction of such information is a proportionate measure to protect the national security interests of Ukraine as opposed to the public interest that may arise in the public. Significant harm from the dissemination of such information caused to the interests of national security will significantly outweigh the public interest in obtaining it,” the Verkhovna Rada Secretariat added.

The response of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the request of the outlet’s journalist

In July 2023, Slidstvo.Info journalists learned from their own sources that 48-year-old Yuriy Aristov, Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, MP of the Servant of the People party, was staying at the 5-star Waldorf Astoria Maldives hotel on the private island of Ithaafushi, Maldives.

Journalists had sent a request regarding how the lawmaker crossed the Ukrainian border and whether his trip to the Maldives was work-related. Despite the press secretary’s promise to provide a response to the request within a few hours, both the assistant and the MP himself ignored the attempts from Slidstvo.Info journalists to obtain answers to their questions.

After the publication of the Slidstvo.Info story, Yuriy Aristov submitted a statement on resigning from his powers as a member of parliament.

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