Threats to journalists
On 12 October candidate to Presidents post Viktor Yanukovich met with Kharkov youth in the palace of sport “Lokomotiv”. About 20 students, adherents of Yushchenko, wanted to join the meeting. They gathered near the fountain at the Kharkov Central railway station. The group of journalists of the news ATN (7th TV channel) were there too. Law-enforcers tried to persuade the students to refuse from their intent. Suddenly some sturdily-build men appeared near the fountain, encircled the students and forced the journalists out. Journalist of ATN Marina Nikolaeva told later: “They physically pressed me and our cameraman. They covered the camera with hands, waited until the cameraman switched off his equipment and threatened him that if the material would be published, they would kill him. Besides, they promised to put out my eyes because I saw that”. By the words of ATN head Oleg Yukht, this was the first time during 13 years of his work in mass media, when journalists were threatened so openly, especially in presence of representatives of law-enforcing organs.
The students were arrested by militia. Journalist Andrey Voytsehovski, the press secretary of the Kharkov headquarters of V. Yushchenko, tried to make a video record of this arrest, but two men in civilian clothes came to him, took away his camera and threw it to the fountain.
Leaders of six large Kharkov mass media, among them: the editorial board of media-group “Objektiv”, agency of TV news (ATN) and editorial board of Kharkov news, signed the appeal, which read that the pre-election struggle had become dangerous for the lives of journalists, who elucidated the political events. “We, journalists of Kharkov mass media, consider this incident as an outrageous violation of law and declare that we are not going to endure such pranks without regard for rank. We reckon that the pressure of mass media on the side of any political forces is inadmissible, as well as pressure on the side of law-enforcing organs. We will consider the attempts of such kind as provocations regarding mass media and meddling into our professional activities”, reads the appeal. “We turn to the heads of force structures and organs of state power with the demand to guarantee, in Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast, the fulfillment of Laws of Ukraine “On information” and “On TV and radio broadcasting”. Otherwise we reckon that we would have right for adequate measures, up to calling the population to the acts of civil disobedience”.