Vasyl Maliuk, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) suspended head of the cybersecurity department (DKIB) Illya Vityuk from his duties while the SBU investigates a report of possible corruption published by the Slidstvo-Info investigative news site last week, Interfax-Ukraine reports.

Kyiv Post reached out to Vityuk for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

The SBU press service said that, based on Maliuk’s decision, Vityuk will be relocated to serve in a combat unit of the DKIB directly at the front line, together with the Centralized Security Forces “A.”

“He is currently assigned to this unit and today left for the area of combat missions,” the Security Service press service said Tuesday, April 9.

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“The Security Service expresses its respect to the media and journalists for their effective joint work on the information front against Russian aggression,” it added.

On April 4, the Slidstvo.info investigative journalist, Yevhen Shkurat published an unflattering story about Vityuk.

In his report, Shkurat alleged that Vityuk and his wife, Yuliya Vityuk, could not have afforded the couple’s estimated $1.5 million apartment on their income – and thus may have benefited from some form of corruption.

The Vityuks did not comment on the story.

On April 1, on the eve of the publication of the Slidstvo investigation, Shkurat was approached in a Kyiv shopping mall by military draft center officials who intended to serve him with a military call-up notice.

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Ukrainian intelligence said the couple, recruited by Russian intelligence, were photographing sensitive objects under the guise of a wedding photoshoot in the port city.

After watching CCTV footage, the journalist’s colleagues reported that the officers had been instructed by a person spotted at the same location, who turned out to be an SBU operative, to specifically approach Shkurat.

The Slidstvo news outlet also reported that they’d been warned against publishing the story.

That said, a link between the incident at the shopping mall and Vityuk has not been confirmed.  

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Following the news, the Ukrainian media association, Mediarukh, issued a statement demanding that criminal proceedings be initiated for those involved.

“Illegal surveillance of a journalist by representatives of the special services and the use of the military as a tool to stop journalistic investigations is an unacceptable and threatening precedent,” Mediaruk stated.

Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrsky responded to the report on Sunday, saying he would instruct his staff to investigate.

 “It is also important to emphasize that the professional activities of journalists are respected by the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and protected by Ukrainian legislation. The Armed Forces of Ukraine condemn any cases of violations by military officials,” Syrsky stated.

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