Donetsk Police beat up Journalist Artem Furmanyuk
During the early hours of Saturday morning, 18 September, police officers beat up the journalist and three of his friends. Artem Furmanyuk has recently begun writing for Radio Svoboda in the “Point of View” section. As a result of the assault, his eye is damaged, he has broken ribs, numerous hematoma on the body. The journalist says that the police officers kicked him, having put handcuffs on him. This, incidentally, is the second attack on a media representative in Donetsk over the last week.
Artem Furmanyuk, Editor of the website “Protest”, had been celebrating his third wedding anniversary. A dispute with a group of neighbours in the courtyard led to the police being called. Without trying to find out who was responsible, who not, the officers clapped handcuffs on those disturbing the peace, Artem explains.
“They came up and immediately began putting handcuffs on, saying that they were going to take us to the Kalininsky District Police Station. They put handcuffs on Yevhen and my brother Anton, but Roman and I didn’t let them. We asked why and on what grounds they wanted to detain us”.
“I was beaten by three men”
The police got them on the ground and began kicking them and hitting them with batons. Furmanyuk said that he was a journalist, which, he recounts, only made them beat him harder.
“I was beaten by three men. I saw two of them but my brother says there were three, and there probably were. In the end I screamed in an incredible voice because I had no strength left.”
Roman Samoilov, who had tear gas sprayed in his eyes confirms Furmanyuk’s account.
“It all happened so quickly, without warning. Nobody showed us any documents, any ID. They put handcuffs on immediately and Artem and I obviously were outraged over that. Then I got sprayed from a canister with gas, and could only hear shouting and foul language. They began beating us”.
After the beating the police officers took the “offenders” to the police station. Then Artem Furmanyuk, separately from the others, was right in the corridor of the station beaten for a second time. He stresses that he was beaten in handcuffs and therefore he couldn’t either defend himself or avoid the blows. The conversation in the police office was videoed. Now, in his view, this video makes it possible to refute the accusations against him.
A denial of the allegations has already been issued by a spokesman for the Donetsk Regional Police Department, Ihor Dyomin. “It was a two-way fight. In the police station there’s a video and we’ve just looked at it. He’s already got bruises and he also says that some girl hit him over the head with a bottle. The only thing is that we’ll check who exactly detained them since at the beginning there was a mass fight.”
Furmanyuk says that his main injuries: the broken ribs, the hematoma and eye injury were inflicted by the police officers and not the neighbours. All injuries have been recorded by doctors, he adds.
The second beating of a journalist in a week
The Donetsk public are outrageous by what has happened. This is already the second attack on a journalist over the last week in Donetsk. During the evening of 12 September there was an attack on the Head of the Union of Professional Journalists, Hennady Berezovsky.
Journalists assert that beatings of journalists as well as “ordinary” citizens by police officers have become a common thing for Donetsk.
“We relaxed over five years and somehow forgot that the State machine cannot be on the side of the journalist since for it a journalist is the enemy covering public issues and doing it in a professional way. It’s basically clear that journalists are a threat to the regime. I won’t be surprised if they start coming down individually on those who cover more or less high-profile cases”, publicist Stanislav Fedorchuk says.
Just before the beating of Artem Furmanyuk, on 17 September, Radio Svoboda published his article: “The Donetsk Mafia doesn’t exist anymore. De jure..” However its author is not inclined to link the incident with his profession, though does note that most of his best works are connected specifically with uncovering the activities of the police.