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17.12.2010

Prosecutor General finds nothing wrong with Prime Minister’s Guards’ treatment of journalists

   

The Prosecutor General’s Office has found no elements of crime in the behaviour of Prime Minister Azarov’s guards who broke a TV Channel 5 video camera and disrupted the work of the film crew on 27 November 2010.

As reported, during the visit on Saturday, 27 November, by the President and Prime Minister to the tent camp set up by people protesting against the newly passed Tax Code, Channel 5 journalist Azad Safarov and photographer Olena Sorokina tried to enter the tent where the Prime Minister was speaking with protesters.  Members of the Department of State Security categorically prohibited them from entering, without providing any identification or giving any grounds for this ban. Moreover, as Azarov began leaving the tent, Azad Safarov and Olena Sorokina were roughly shoved away from the tent, and the guards tried to stop Olena filming, this leading to the video camera being damaged.

The letter from the Deputy Prosecutor General to the Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Mykola Tomenko, is reported by one of the two journalists involved, Azad Safarov.

The letter asserts that “the military servicemen of the Department of State Security acted in accordance with the Law on State Protection of State Bodies and Public Officials.”

It says that in view of this on 10 December the Central Department of Military Prosecutors issued a resolution refusing to initiate a criminal investigation.

Channel 5 only received a copy of the letter from Mr Tomenko and has not had any information from the Prosecutor General’s Office, nor letter refusing to initiate a criminal investigation.

The Prosecutor General’s official website gives no information about the decision to not initiate an investigation.

The Parliamentary Enquiry Commission into Issues regarding Censorship also decided to approach the Prosecutor General and the Department of State Security asking for a legal assessment of the guards’ behaviour and if violations were identified, for appropriate response.

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