Name: Natalie Sedletska
Education: Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Profession: Author, editor and host of “Schemes: Corruption in Details” program on First National TV channel
Did you know? She posed as a corrupt Russian official’s mistress during an investigation.
Natalie Sedletska is one of Ukraine’s most prominent investigative journalists. She started her career on TVi channel, where she hosted her own show, which covered corruption in public procurement. In 2013, Sedletska joined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague on a Vaclav Havel journalism fellowship.
She frequently traveled back to Kyiv during the EuroMaidan Revolution. After ex-President Viktor Yanukovych fled power on Feb. 22, 2014, she teamed up with other journalists who retrieved documents from the Kyiv Sea near the luxurious Mezhyhirya estate of Yanukovych. The papers were published as part of Yanukovych Leaks and revealed extensive financial corruption by the ex-president and his close circle.
She works for the U.S.-funded RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service as a producer and host of the weekly TV program “Schemes,” aired on Ukraine’s First National Channel since July 2014 and focused on corruption. She is also a member of Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which leads international investigations.
At the moment, she has six investigative journalists and 15 people overall working on the program. In the latest episode, Sedletska and her team found a multimillion-dollar villa of President Petro Poroshenko in Malaga, Spain, which hadn’t been included in his e-declaration.
But she expects the climate of impunity to prevail. “Today top officials don’t care about all the disclosure. As a journalist you can show how a minister abuses his power for his family’s wealth, but the media buzz will calm down, and the person will keep governing the country,” she says.
This doesn’t make the work of an investigative journalist any less important in today’s Ukraine. “Our society is not stagnant any more. It’s moving and it’s ready to fight. Stakes are high, and in ‘Schemes,’ we feel a lot of responsibility for every story, word, and action.”
In 2015, Sedletska took part in British Channel 4’s documentary “From Russia with Cash,” which investigated how money laundering of foreigners fueled London’s property boom. She and Russian anti-corruption campaigner Roman Borisovich went undercover, posing as a corrupt Russian minister called “Boris” and his mistress “Nastya.”
“I suppose we played our roles well because all five real estate agents who we talked to agreed to make a deal, although we directly informed them about our fraudulent gains from the health budget,” says Sedletska.
The documentary drew attention to money laundering on the British property market and led to prosecutions supported by then-United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron. When she’s not working, which is rare, she travels and attends electronic music festivals.