Open letter from Kherson journalists


When some journalists tried to establish how a private shop could have been destroyed in broad daylight in the historical center of Kherson without the police taking any measures, those involved in the devastation twisted journalists’ arms, strangled them, took away photo camera and dictaphone…

More than two weeks have passed after the attack of the “unknown persons” on the journalists of the newspaper “Vgoru”. So, what happened in these two weeks, during which the journalists persistently sought for protection of law-enforcers? Practically nothing. Only the shop was finally destroyed by the same persons (now already “known”). Even the presence of the officers of special squad “Berkut” sent there by Oleg Gaponov, a deputy head of the Kherson regional department of the Ministry of Interior, allegedly for guard of the building, did not stop the wreckers. (So, for what such deputy head is needed? And such “Berkut”?)

We have wrote that after the appearance of publications about the crime committed against the independent Kherson journalists the commission, into which the journalists of “Vgoru” were included, was created on the initiative of Mykhaylo Yaselskiy, the head of the Kherson regional militia department.

Yet, there are no results of the work of the commission, we cannot obtain the materials, to which the officers of the Suvorovskiy district militia station referred justifying the actions of the persons hired by the Dnepropetrovsk firm “Germes-plus”. However, we have learned from other sources that the shop building was ruined illegally. Sittings are either not held at all or are held without presence of journalists (they do not invite us).

On Thursday, 21 July 2005, suffered journalists of the newspaper “Vgoru” N. Kozarenko and M. Solovyev were invited for a talk by senior investigating officer of the Suvorovskiy district prosecutor’s office A. Zhakomin. It was obvious that the topic of the talk was absolutely uninteresting to him. On the next day the investigating officer took the decision not to institute the criminal case because of the absence of corpus delicti. The officer did not enclose the resolution about the refusal to institute the criminal case with the letter about this decision, so we could not learn, violation of which article of the Criminal Code he had considered.

The most surprising moment in this story is the lightning speed of conducting the investigation: on 12 July 2005 the complaint was handed to the Suvorovskiy militia station, on 20 July the case was passed to the prosecutor’s office of the Suvorovskiy district, and on 22 July all actions prescribed by law were completed and the “truth” was “disclosed”.

Taking into account that senior investigating officer A. Zhakomin refers in his letter to item 2 of Article 6 of the Criminal Code (absence of corpus delicti in an action), one can make a conclusion that the action has taken place. Thus, the investigating officer recognized that the journalists were attacked and the shop was destroyed. He also could not be ignorant of the fact that the shop was not owned by the destroyers, and that they ruined it contrary to the will of its owner. Yet, the Suvorovskiy prosecutor’s office does not regard all that as a crime… Well, whether the attack on journalists and their robbery are not crimes too? We have no choice, but to appeal to court against the resolution of prosecutor A. Zhakomin.

The human rights protecting community of Ukraine actively reacted to the events in Kherson: many organizations and people sent the letters to the President, Ministry of Interior, the USS head and General Prosecutor with the demand to bring the guilty to responsibility. The community reminded that during past years the attacks, beatings and intimidation of journalists in the Kherson region became systematic. For instance, in autumn of 2004, during the election campaign, some “unknown persons” attacked photographer of the newspaper “Grivna” Evhen Safonov, took away his photographic camera and spoiled the film. It was simply to learn, who did it: Evhen noted the register number of the attackers’ car, and the editorial board passed this number to the prosecutor’s office. In the same period “strangers” took away a digital photo camera from Dmitry Orlov, a journalist from Nova Kakhovka. Later this camera, although broken, was returned to him by a representative of the Nova Kakhovka militia department. So, one can conclude that the militiamen know the robbers well. Neither the publications in mass media nor the appeals of victims caused at least minimal reaction of militia and prosecutor’s office of the Kherson region.

After inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko, on 2 February 2005, correspondent of the newspaper “Chestnoe slovo” Petr Lukyanenko was beaten in broad daylight near the building of the Appeal court. This incident was described by all independent Kherson mass media, editors sent the collective letter to the militia head with the demand to investigate this crime and to punish the guilty (by the way, that time they were quite “known persons”). There is a video record, on which the beating is fixed, and there are eyewitnesses. And again we met with absolute passivity of law-enforcers.

Recently the editors of independent Kherson mass media again directed the open letter to all top officers of law-enforcing organs, in which they demanded to find the persons, who robbed, threatened, and beat us and our colleagues, and to bring the guilty to responsibility.

We also demand from the respected officers to answer our questions:

-  Who, among representatives of militia and prosecutor’s office, is guilty of ignoring of all previous cases of violation of journalists’ rights?

-  Would the Kherson law-enforcers be punished for non-interference in the robbery of journalists?

12 July 2005

The open letter is signed by editors of the newspapers «Vgoru», «Grivna», «Novy format», «VIK»,

TRC «ТЕТ-Kherson»

Natalya Kozarenko, a member of the initiative group for protection of the right for the access to information

of the project of Kherson journalists’ association “Pivden”

«Journalists of the Kherson region for free access to information».
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