In a case of chickens coming home to roost or at least getting back to their roots, former Canada-based Vice editor, Yaroslav Pastukhov, has been accused of tapping employees to engage in international drug smuggling.
Three current or former Vice reporters have told the National Post the former music editor, who worked in the Toronto-based division for Noisey and was known as Slava Pastuk, had attempted to recruit them during a time they were working with or for the magazine, “offering each of them $10,000 to carry illicit cargo hidden in the lining of suitcases from Las Vegas to Australia. They say they did not accept the offer.”
At the same time, Pastukhov’s roommate, electronic music artist Jordan Gardner, is now sitting in an Australian jail, awaiting sentencing after being busted in a Sydney airport along with four others, who were discovered carrying cocaine valued at U.S. $5.1 million in the lining of their luggage.
After an internal investigation, Pastukhov was let go by by Vice in January 2016, however, he remains a free man, and according to the article there have been no criminal charges filed against him nor are there any ongoing police investigations into his alleged activities.
With its grimier days behind it, investments from Walt Disney World and a possible IPO on the horizon, Vice pushed back on reporting that implied a look-the-other-way work environment fostered Pastukhov’s alleged activities.
In a statement sent to the Post, Vice head of communications Chris Ball wrote, “Vice Canada takes allegations such as these very seriously as the safety of our employees is our first and foremost concern. In fact, our employee handbook quite clearly states that ‘the use, possession, sale, transfer, offering or furnishing of illegal drugs or illegal use of other controlled substances while on duty or on Vice premises is prohibited.’
In a follow-up note he added, “any allegations that Vice Canada somehow fosters a culture of illicit substance use in the office is plainly false….Our employee handbook contains a zero tolerance policy for such activity.”
The media company was founded in 1994 as Voice of Montreal, a Montreal music and underground culture magazine. Headed up by Suroosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith, the name of the publication was changed to Vice in 1996 and moved its headquarters to New York in 2001. In 2003, the trio published “The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll,” which recalled their more youthful, often drug-fueled, hard partying days.
According to the story, a few months after Pastukhov was terminated, he tweeted: “friendly reminder that journalists are just professional snitches.”
Another friendly reminder, as broke as you may be and as easy-breezy as someone may make out a smuggling job to be, whether international or national, always say N-O. None of these jobs are ever as innocent as they’re portrayed.
Image via nationalpost.com.