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02.01.2004

Reaction to the beating of journalist Oleksandr Levit was traditional

   

Everybody reacted to the beating of Oleksandr Levit, an Odessa correspondent of the newspaper “Fakty”, traditionally: Union of journalists – with an appeal, journalists – with indignation, militia – with promises to find and punish the attackers, prosecutor’s office – with silence.

I want to remind that Oleksandr was cruelly beaten in the Odessa downtown. This was not a robbery or hooliganism – the attackers warned the journalist that they would murder him, if he would not stop to write.

Oleksandr Levit is a reporter. His duty is to inform society about various events. This profession is very dangerous nowadays, and Levit was not the first journalist, who learned that from his own experience. Other journalists had been beaten before: Yuri Fedotkin, Vitaliy Chechik, Igor Rozov, Volodymir Bekhter (he died in a hospital), Stanislav Shandor and Oleksandr Mizin. Some criminals shot at Sergiy Lebedev and Boris Derevianko. The deaths of Yuliy Mazur and Yuri Ivanov were also doubtful. Are not such facts too frequent?

None of these crimes were investigated. The murder of Boris Derevianko is the most glaring example of hushing up the case. The brave Odessa militia almost at once found a usual bandit from the Pridnestrovskiy region. The investigation was falsified so crudely that the case nearly fell to pieces in court. However, the accused was condemned, although even the prosecutor expressed the doubt about his guilt.

The militia also found the scapegoat in O. Levit’s case. Yet, the unexpected thing happened: the accused stated during the interrogation in presence of his victim that militiamen had forced him to admit the guilt.

By the way, I know well about the efficiency of such investigations. I had been also attacked, and militiamen turned to me for the last time in April 1998, although the guilty are not found until now. And I am sure that the investigation of O. Levit’s case will be fruitless too.

The state of the media space of Odessa is pitiable. During last years almost all printed and electronic mass media of the city degenerated into the worst examples of propaganda of successes and prominent qualities of the mayor and governor. What one can say about common journalists, if even the Odessa Guild of correspondents for several years on end awards the governor with some prize as a better friend of the press, and the local branch of the Union of journalists of Ukraine calls him a pattern of journalistic creative activities!

By the data of the Odessa city militia directorate, 9 attacks on journalists were committed this year “with the purpose of robbery”. The main version of the attack on O. Levit considered by law-enforcing organs is hooliganism…

I have another version: the journalists are attacked and murdered by order. This is a peculiar national method of cultivating the loyalty in journalists.

Leonid Kapeliushny

("Svoboda", No. 47, 2-8 December 2003)

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