Statement from the Independent Media Trade Union
At midday on 12 July 2006, State Deputies from the “Party of the Regions” and their bodyguards applied force against the camera crew from TV Channel STB in order to obstruct the work of journalist Margarita SYTNYK and cameraman Volodymyr NOVOSAD. They hit the cameraman, seriously damaged his TV camera and removed a cassette containing footage. All of this was accompanied by a barrage of threats and sexist remarks aimed at the journalist.
The law enforcement officers standing near the Verkhovna Rada buildings did not react to the incident and failed to assist the journalists who called for their help.
This is not the first case when representatives of the said political faction have laid hands on journalists while the latter are carrying out their professional duties.
On 13 June 2006 activists from the “Party of the Regions” blocked a correspondent from the news agency UNIAN Dmytro Stakhovsky in Feodosia, obstructing his work.
On 3 June in Kharkiv a State Deputy from the “Party of the Regions”, Dmytro Shentsev hit a press photographer Andriy Avdoshin who works for “Associated Press»,, «ITAR-TASS» and «Photolenta».
In this connection the Media Trade Union is calling on the leaders of the “Party of the Regions” to investigate these violations of journalists rights, to provide compensation for the damage caused and to take appropriate actions, in particular, to have serious explanatory conversations with all deputies and make them observe current Ukrainian legislation.
The Media Trade Union would also inform the “Party of the Regions” and other parties that a mere apology is such cases would be insufficient since, pursuant to Article 171 of the Criminal Code, impeding the professional activities of journalists is a grave violation.
The Media Trade Union calls on all organizers of protest actions to exert control over their activists and to make it clear to them that while in the centre of events, journalists are carrying out their professional duties and are protected by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Otherwise, we reserve the right to call on our members and colleagues to boycott coverage of the activities of political factions whose activists and supporters impede the professional activities of journalists in Ukraine.
We would also draw the attention of the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine to the criminal inaction of their law enforcement officers in the given instance, and would remind them that responsibility for crimes against journalists when carrying out their professional duties is the same as that for some actions directed about officers of law enforcement agencies.
Serhiy Huz, Head of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine
Mykhaylina Skorik, head of the Kyiv independent media trade union
13 July 2006