Criminal case opened over assault on Reporters without Borders Representative


The Prosecutor of the Podilsk District of Kyiv on Monday 5 March initiated a criminal investigation over the attack on Oksana Romanyuk, representative of Reporters without Borders in Ukraine. The investigation is under Article 125 § 1 of the Criminal Code (inflicting light injuries), not Article 171 (obstructing a journalist carrying out his or her professional duties).

The police had earlier refused to initiate a criminal investigation.

As reported, during the night between 6 and 7 February Oksana Romanyuk, Ukrainian Representative of Reporters without Borders, was struck in the face while using her mobile phone to film building work near her apartment block.

Several residents of her apartment block and Ms Romanyuk had come out in protest over tree-felling being carried out at night on the children’s playground and sport area.  The building workers surrounded them, pushing them and then one hit her in the face with his fist.

“I was filming them on my mobile so as to post the information in the media and social networks. I told them I was a journalist, but didn’t have my ID with me. The builders used every means of obstructing me, blocking the camera, trying to pull the mobile out of my hands and finally hit me in the face”.

The local residents who joined the protesters, with the help of the police, finally managed to stop the building workers.

Ms Romanyuk made a statement to the police. She says that they wrote out a protocol and then released the assailant.  She also reports that the builders told the protesters to give up their protest since they had a permit from the planning department of the Kyiv City State Administration.

Roman Holovenko from the Institute for Mass Information said at the time of the attack that the assailant’s actions could be seen as obstructing a journalist carrying out her professional activities since he was warned that she was a journalist. This would fall under Article 171 of the Criminal Code (which the police are notoriously loath to apply – translator).

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