The Expensive Cars of Ukrainian Agents

SCOOP coordinator Henrik Kaufholz gave handed the prize to Valeriya Yegoshyna.

At the MezhyhiryaFest in Kyiv 9.-10. of June the SCOOP coordinator Henrik Kaufholz handed the Proxy Award and 1.000 EUR for the best investigation in Ukraine to Valeriya Yegoshyna.  Of almost 100 nominations a Ukrainian jury gave the award for investigation of the expensive cars owned (or maybe only driven) by the agents of the secret service, SBU.

It was published by Radio Liberty and can be seen here with English subtitles.

The Ukrainian Proxy award is funded by Danish Journalists for the fifth time. This year the 1.000 Euro were provided by the journalists of Denmark’s leading national daily, Politiken.

Valeriya Yegoshyna has 7 years of experience in several media in Odessa. In the winter of 2016 Valeriya joined the team of the investigative TV program “Schemes. Corruption in details” as an intern (as a member of Journalism Exchange Program organized by Media Development Foundation) and quickly became a full member of the team of 6 investigative journalists. The project has been on air since 2014, supported by American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and  broadcasted on a regular basis by the Ukrainian First TV channel (Ukrainian public broadcaster).

Valeriya Yegoshyna has been awarded several prizes for her investigative journalism.

In 2017, Valeriya received a Vasyl Sergienko Award at the competition of journalistic investigations in the category “The Best Investigation in the Internet Media” for her Special Project “Vanishing heritage”, a digital project and documentary about abandoned historical houses, whose influential owners got them  through intransparent schemes. Also, she was shortlisted in the category “Best TV Investigation” for her work “Office for the Protection of Own Interests”.

She is a known face in Denmark, since she was one the heroes in a Danish TV-documentary, ‘Ukraines korruptionsjægere’ (Ukraine’s Corruption Hunters) produced by Matilde Kimer in December of 2017. Can be seen here

Several times during recent years, her stories were announced as best investigative work through all RFE/RL services (in 23 countries).  Some of  Valeriya’s investigations led to several official criminal cases.

About the Festival

After Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and his closest allies fled the country millions of dollars in assets were left behind to be investigated by journalists and state law enforcement agencies. Ukrainian investigative journalists poured through millions of documents to find proof those assets were acquired through corrupt means and kept revealing further properties and accounts. However, the state’s progress has been slow at best. Only a small portion of the stolen money was returned to the Ukrainian state budget. This year’s MezhyhiryaFest looked into why the recovery process of state assets is moving so slowly and how the international experience of asset recovery and management can help improve and accelerate the process.

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Highway to easy money

When the authorities have decided where to build a new road, the land tends to recently have changed its ownership and must be bought out for a high price. The new owner is not seldom a person or a company with “special knowledge”, making sure to be the owner the state is forced to buy out.

The journalist Alena Dudar in Kaliningrad has found at least 56 plots, often purchased by people with insider knowledge, between early 2008 and October 2016. The new owners made easy money. The state made losses.

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Paradise for Roller Skiers, Hell for Tax Payers

It was meant to shorten the way between Russia and Finland and make trade and travel easier. But the 830 million ruble road (approximately 12 million €) is mostly famous for one thing: to be an excellent summer time training ground for Russian cross country skiers in Karelia.

As there is almost no traffic on this expensive 28 kilometer two layer asphalt road, it is both safe and silent for roller skiers. Gleb Yarovoy at the media outlet 7X7 tells the story about why such a nice road leads to an almost dead end.

The article was published on January 25, 2018, in 7×7 in Petrozavodsk.

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FGJ and FUJ Leaving SCOOP Russia

We are sorry to inform you, that the Danish and Swedish Association for Investigative Journalism, FUJ and FGJ, are leaving SCOOP Russia because of an increasing degree of mistrust and disagreement between the partners. There is in our opinion a lack of respect for the core values and goals of SCOOP, and we cannot not lend FGJ’s and FUJ’s names to that.

We have made this decision with heavy hearts, because a lot of good results have been reached in the project. 108 journalists have received training in investigative journalism and published an even higher number of good investigations.
The SCOOP trademark is the peer-to-peer cooperation between journalists, in this case from Sweden/Denmark and Russia. This cooperation will not be there in the future, and any continuing project cannot bear the SCOOP name.
This website is for the whole SCOOP project, not SCOOP Russia only, and will remain for the time being.

Hospitals Pay Too Much for Food

“There was not a day where we were not given cabbage! There was a joke that the head physician had a contract with a cabbage tycoon! And you start to believe it.”

Hospitals in St. Petersburg, like all public institutions, buy their products for patient food in a system of public procurement. The system of public procurement is designed to choose the best quality product at a minimum cost based on the competition between suppliers. But in the bids for hospital food, curious things are happening.

Alena Dudar has investigated the price for hospital food. Her investigation was published in MR7.ru on February 27, 2018.

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Who can Afford to Die in Kaliningrad?

The last cost in life should be zero for a Russian citizen, according to Russian law. It isn’t. In real life, the relatives of a deceased in Kaliningrad have to pay huge amounts of money to help their beloved to a decent place to rest.

The funeral business in the Russian enclave close to the Baltic Sea, is worth several millions rubles. Oksana Maitakova has investigated who is making money on funerals and cemeteries and how the business is organised. Her investigation is published on the portal New Kaliningrad.

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In the Morning: Elections, In the Evening: Contracts

The regional elections in Karelia 2016 ended in a victory for the Edinaya Rossiya party («United Russia»), and in the year after the party also won the governor post.

As always in politics there was money behind these results. In his investigation ‘In the Morning – Elections, In the Evening – Contracts’, the journalist Sergei Khorosavin took a closer look at the potential sponsors of the successful party – first and foremost to the millionaire Nikolai Makarov and his companys bidding for public contracts.

The investigation was first published by 7×7 on January 29, 2018.

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A Mess of Major Repairs

In 2012, the Russian regional funds were created to raise funds for the repairs of multi-apartment buildings. “No extra money is required,” was the promise to the deputies about the implementation of changes in the legislation.

A team of investigative journalists from Veliky Novgorod has studied the numerous violations done by the Fund for Major Renovation in the Northwest region of Russia. In particular, a company close to the former management of the fund received contracts for millions of rubles.
The three reporters, Elena Vaganova, Valentina Stepanova, Ekaterina Pereplavchenko believe that the facts they published in the investigation “Capital mess” should attract the attention of law enforcement agencies.

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A Company Full of Empty Promises

The building site in Petrozavodsk, where the company Okhta has started construction of blocks of flats is polluted. That’s a fact according to independent experts.

Okthas manager saw it the same way a few years ago and promised to removed the dirty soil. Since then no trucks have been driving polluted material off the site. Instead there is a discussion between authorities, which have approved some of the building plans, about the correct way of taking samples, and the first buildings are now standing, where once the workers of Onega Tractor Plant built heavy machinery. The reporter Julia Kucherenko tells a story of broken promises.

The investigation was first published in the newssite 7×7 in Petrozavodsk on November 16, 2017.

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The Rise and Fall of the Shuya Salmon

The Shuya stock of Onega salmon used to be on Russias ‘red list’ and thus protected. But the famous fish was removed from the list 2004, and at first it was a success. In 2010, the total catch was – official figures – 100 tons. But since then it turned into a bad story.

There is almost no wild Shuya salmon left, and local authorities have not been able to reintroduce protection. Evgeniy Belyanchikov tells the story of the rise and fall of the Shuya stock of Onega salmon. His articles was published in Gubernija Daily as a three-part series on November 8, 9 and 10 2017.

Read the Russian originals – Part 1Part 2Part 3

Read the English abstract