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22.10.2010

For the Prosecutor Dementiy Bily was assaulted but isn’t a journalist

   

The Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a criminal investigation over the assault on Dementiy Bily, Editor of the newspaper “Vilny Vybir” [“Free Choice”] and Head of the Kherson Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, yet is refusing to consider him a journalist.

Dementiy’s lawyer, who is supported by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union’s Strategic Litigations Fund, reports that some progress is evident.  A criminal investigation has been launched over light bodily injuries inflicted on Dementiy Bily. As reported at the time, on 14 September Dementiy, armed with journalist ID, was not allowed by security guards into the hall where the Mayor was giving his report. Thanks to the intervention of the Head of the Kherson Regional Administration, he was finally admitted, however seeing that other journalists, opposition deputies and other members of the public were not being admitted although there were free seats, he used a microphone from the centre of the hall to call on the Mayor to rectify the situation.  He was shoved out of the hall by two men and in the foyer one inflicted blows to his face.

It transpires, however, that the Prosecutor is refusing to launch the investigation under Article 171 of the Criminal Code (obstructing journalists in the course of their legitimate professional activities). At present the person who inflicted the blows is appealing against the decision to initiate a criminal investigation.  If he succeeds, this will be yet another case where an assault on a journalist goes unpunished.

UHHRU issued a statement calling on the Prosecutor General and the Minister of Internal Affairs to ensure a swift, independent and efficient investigation of this assault

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