European Federation of Journalists

Poland: Persistent obstruction of Ukrainian journalists’ work 


Since the beginning of 2024, Ukrainian journalists investigating Poland’s economic ties with Russia and Belarus have faced deliberate obstruction of their activities by Polish law enforcement officers. From vehicle searches to confiscation of equipment, leading to arrests and deportations, the work of the Ukrainian journalists from online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda and have been seriously unhindered.  The International and the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) urge the Polish authorities to conduct an independent and thorough investigation into these serious attacks on journalists and to reconsider their deportation from the territory.

On 27 February, journalist Mykhailo Tkach, working from news portal Ukrainska Pravda along with his cameraman Yaroslav Bondarenko, were among the first journalists to be detained while reporting on the transit of goods between Poland, Russia, and Belarus. That day, ten agents began searching the journalist’s car, seizing phones, confidential documents and damaging memory cards from the cameras.It was clear that the Polish special services representatives were scared. They started asking me who else knew, whether the Ukrainian authorities and the Ukrainian government knew. They asked us who our sources were, how we had found out about it and how long we had been working on it”, said Tkach, who was held for at least four hours before being released after the intervention of the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland. Throughout their detention, the journalists were not permitted to contact anyone. The Polish police denied having detained the journalists.

“The fact that Polish law enforcement officers ignore the status of journalists and detain and search media workers is infuriating,” declared the president of the IFJ-EFJ affiliated National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), Sergiy Tomilenko. 

On 7 March, a similar incident occurred with the editor of the news agency Yury Konkevych and his cameraman Oleksandr Pilyuk who were detained by six police officers in Braniewo city for investigating cargo transportation. The car and their working and personal equipment have been confiscated as well. According to the journalists, the officers even deleted some recorded evidence and refused the journalistsʼ request to contact the consul, editorial staff or relatives. The hostility escalated further when Yuriy Konkevych and Oleksandr Pilyuk were banned from entering Schengen zone countries for five years. They returned to Ukraine at night on 9 March. The editorial office of has started the process of appealing the deportation, in addition to seeking the return of their confiscated equipment.   

The EFJ and IFJ are alarmed by such persistent obstruction of the work of Ukrainian journalists in Poland that poses serious threats to the safety of journalists and the press freedom itself. Additionally, the federations call upon Polish authorities to take immediate steps to protect the journalists, including the cancellation of the deportation of Yury Konkevych and Oleksandr Pilyuk.