October record for violations against journalists
The Institute for Mass Information, which carries out constant monitoring of journalists’ rights, reports that October saw an unprecedented number of assaults and attempts to intimidate journalists.
On 13 October the editorial office of the Volyn newspaper “Viche” was shot at. The day before celebrations to mark the newspaper’s seventieth birthday, around 22.30 8 shots were fired at the paper’s windows and door.
According to one of the versions presently being investigated by the police, a former high-ranking official of a body of self-government was in this way seeking vengeance, having been offended by publications in recent issues of the weekly. Both the police and the SBU [Security Service] are investigating the incident, but nobody has yet been arrested.
Another shooting incident took place in Lviv where the offices of journalists of the Lviv newspaper “Express” were shot at. The newspaper only reported this on 22 October explaining that they had wanted to give the police an opportunity to carry out their duties. The statement on their official website says that “the time has come to call things by their real name: the local police have also failed this test. They are not capable of defending citizens, journalists.”
In Dnipropetrovsk Director of the television company Pryvat TV Dnipro (Channel 9) Kyril Danilov was shot at. According to the police, on Monday evening Danilov left the TV channel premises and got in a car being driven by a journalist from the channel. The car headed off 30 metres when a stranger appeared and at close range shot at the car around the passenger’s seat. According to preliminary information, the shots were fired by a man with a shock pistol. Another media outlet reports there having been 4 shots and says that it was sheer luck that Danilov was not killed. The investigation continues.
In Ivano-Frankivsk a building housing the publishing company “Nova zorya” [“New Dawn”] which publishes a newspaper with the same name was shot at. According to Senior Editor Mykhailo Zakharchyk, in summer issues the newspaper published high-profile material about the murder of rightwing nationalist Maxim Chaika in Odessa, and the newspaper also actively, and upholding its own position gave coverage to the visit of Patriarch Kiril to Ukraine.
A newspaper photographer from “Conflict and the Law” Ruslan Lyubchenko was assaulted and severely beaten in the centre of Kyiv, near a monument to Lenin and in a tent city organized by the communists.
People from the tent city went up to the journalist who was filming footage and began roughly trying to grab his video, and inflicting blows to the hear. After this Lyubchenko had shots directed at him from a gas pistol and before the police arrived, the assailants put handcuffs on the journalist. When the police arrived, they detained not the assailant, but their victim. Technical equipment was taken away, and the memory card with the photos from the event have yet to be destroyed.
These are just some of the crimes against journalists and publications recorded in October. These and other incidents paint a fairly worrying picture of the situation in October 2009 in the area of freedom of expression.