While fighting the fire at ammunition stock in Ichnia, Chernihiv region, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry appears to be fighting media, namely 112 Ukraine TV channel. The public officers of the Ministry are complaining that 112 Ukraine TV channel is reportedly refusing to air the official data of the ministry regarding explosions in Ichnia ammo depots in Chernihiv region. Stepan Poltorak, the Minister himself complained about 112 Ukraine's actions, addressing the Prime Minister of Ukraine during the latest government session.
In order to understand the entire absurdness of the situation, let’s restore the sequence of events.
3:30 a.m. – the fire started at the ammunition depot in Ichnia.
5:49 a.m.– Defense Ministry reports the fire on its Facebook page. No other statements on the state-run radio or TV channels were made.
6:00 a.m. – 112 Ukraine TV channel begins the morning-time broadcast with the information on the fire at the 6th Arsenal, where the actual incident occurred. We were the first who reported the accident on air. The new piece cited the official information, including the one published by the Ministry on their Facebook page; quite notably, 11 minutes passed between the post-activation and the beginning of the news release.
Later, the Ministry would state that 112 Ukraine TV channel has not used the information they provided. This totally contradicts the real state of affairs.
8:16 a.m. – as the Live show began, the TV channel airs Bohdan Senyk, the Head of the public relations office of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, who told us the details of the situation in Ichnia.
9:45 a.m. – The State Emergency Service's website publishes recent information on the situation at the 6th depot as of 09:30 a.m. Among other things, the rescue service said: 'Approximately 88 thousand tons of ammunition stay in the warehouses'.
10:04 a.m. – 112.ua agency publishes the information provided by the Emergency Service. The information was reported literally. Also, the numbers fell on the titles of '112 Ukraine' TV channel.
10:07 a.m. – Three minutes later, the Defense Ministry posts a message on Facebook, stating they 'exposed a fake'. 'The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine officially announces that the reports published by news agencies, Internet publications and certain TV channels (112 Ukraine) regarding the number of ammunition stored on the territory of the 6th Arsenal in Chernihiv region are not true,' the Ministry statement said. This OFFICIAL information was cited by many mass media; however, the Ministry only mentioned 112 Ukraine TV channel.
Another piece of absurdness lies with the circumstance that the source of information is a state institution, but the Ministry of Defense did not refute the Emergency Service, merely accusing the media of giving a false information.
And still, it was not over. At a briefing at 10:30 a.m., the Defense Ministry spokesman said that the information on the tonnage of ammunition in the depot is 'classified', but 'I'll tell you that the media that provided this information were mistaken by 1,5-2 times'. Secrecy level 88!
That very day, Presidential Advisor Yuriy Biryukov, and today the Defense Minister Poltorak himself 'declassified' the information on the amount of the ammunition in the depot. Whether the communication between the officials is too poor, or this country suffers problems with keeping the classified information in secret. Yet the journalists are somehow guilty!
Today, the Defense Ministry's claims concerning the tonnage are no longer heard; neither are the apologies to journalists. Officials decided to dig into our channel from the other side. At the Cabinet meeting on October 10, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak complained to Volodymyr Groysman that Bohdan Senyk allegedly could not 'breakthrough' on air of our channel yesterday morning (October 9, - 112 International), despite the fact that on October 9, Senyk was present on the live standup three minutes after the start of the Live program on 112 Ukraine TV channel! Later, during conversations with our editors and the TV presenter, Bohdan Senyk could not explain who he was trying to call to get on the air. At the same time, when answering questions of our journalists, Senyk constantly mentioned 'the other channel and other journalists'.
'I’ve been calling to one of your editors, then to another for half an hour. The reason is, you are discussing the issue without the official representatives in your studio. We've had the information since 5:30 am. We were at the site since 4 a.m., later we tried to reach you, and it was about this hour and a half,' Senyk stated.
It should be noted that 112 Ukraine starts broadcasting at 6 a.m., and Live begins at around 8:10 a.m. It remains a mystery whom and where Mr. Senyk called from 4 to 6 a.m.
At today’s session of the Government, PM Volodymyr Groysman spoke about fake news and how it overloads the situation and spreads panic. Yet, for some reason, the Defense Ministry did not deny the fake photos of the armoury in Ichnia spread by Serhiy Pashynsky, the Head of the Parliament’s Committee on the National Security and Defence, and by Igor Mosiychuk, the lawmaker from the Radical Party. The pictures targeted at discrediting army ranks. However, the information from the official state body, cited by media working on air caused anger among army men.
Once again we reiterate that 112 Ukraine was the first TV channel to report on the incident in Ichnia and then, during the day, it checked the situation multiple times, providing the viewers with the latest news. We have done the job, which the Defence Ministry had to do (but it did not) – to warn the citizens about the danger. However, instead of gratitude, we received an accusation from the officials, who instead of doing their work on protection of the Motherland properly, accuse the media of some imaginary sins.
We hope that the sequence of attacks at our TV channel is just an unfortunate coincidence, and not a targeted campaign of the Defense Ministry. We will continue informing the audience about the events in Ukraine and the world first, using only official and reliable information. Again, unlike many lawmakers and other officials who are ready to write and tell people anything to create the fuss.