Police refuse to initiate criminal case over incident at World Newspaper Congress
The police have refused to initiate a criminal investigation over the incident which arose between journalists and a security guard on 3 September during the opening of the 64th World Newspaper Congress taking place this year in Kyiv. The relevant statement was received by the Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda whose Chief Editor Olena Prytula was one of the journalists manhandled. The police assert that they have examined the application for a criminal investigation carefully but are rejecting it.
They also claim that “it was not possible to establish more detail about the circumstances of the case and the identity of the guard who carried out unlawful actions”.
On 21 September the Public Relations Department of the Kyiv Police informed that the police were carrying out a check of the incident and questioning journalists. The case was then sent to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office soon cancelled the decision not to initiate a criminal investigation taken by the Pechersky District Police Department and sent the case to the police for further investigation. This new refusal is the outcome.
As reported, on 3 September during the opening address by President Yanukovych to the World Newspaper Congress some 15 journalists staged an entirely peaceful protest. They stood up each holding a sign with words of protest over censorship in Ukraine. A guard came up and ripped the placards from a couple of them by force.
The following is the letter sent by Stop Censorship to the President of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers over the incident during which video footage clearly shows a guard trying to force a placard reading “Stop Censorship!” from Ms Gorchynska who managed to pass it to Olena Prytula, from whom the guard then wrenched it by force.
The letter below is that sent to Mr Matthew.
Dear Mr. Mathew,
We, Ukrainian journalists, united into the movement Stop Censorship!, are writing to you with the request to find and punish offenders, who aggressively treated journalists during the opening of World Newspaper Congress in Kyiv on September, 3, 2012.
Officially accredited to the WAN-IFRA Congress journalists recorded usage of physical force against them, to prevent them from raising posters saying about freedom of speech. In particular, Olena Prytula, an editor-in-chief of the Intrnet publication Ukrainska Pravda (www.pravda.com.ua), established by Georgiy Gongadze, Kateryna Gorchynska, a Deputy Editor-in-chief of Kyiv Post (www.kyivpost.ua), and Oleksandr Argat, a journalist of 5 Kanal Channel.
There is also video with a confession of a fellow from the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) as to the fact that she removed personal belongings (papers) from Tetiana Veremchuk, a journalist of the Internet publication Telekrytyka (www.telekritika.ua). More over, the fellows of DCP blocked the entrance to the WAN-IFRA Congress and rudely behaved with the members of Stop Censorship! Movement: Svitlana Zalishchuk, Victoriya Siumar, Oksana Romaniuk, and Oksana Pryhodko; unknown stole Mustafa Nayems personal belongings. During the whole period of WAN-IFRA Congress journalists have been followed and recorded on hand cameras by the fellows of DCP and during peaceful protest, journalists were surrounded from all sides.
References to videos:
1. A fellow of DCP grabs a poster from Kateryna Gorchynska and pushes Olena Prytula
2. A fellow of DCP grabs a poster from Aleksandr Argat
3. They remove a poster from Tetiana Veremchuk
On the same day without taking into consideration all video evidence, The State Protection Department made a statement that unknown individuals prevented journalists protest during the World Newspaper Forum.
Taking into account all these facts, we are writing to WAN-IFRA with the request to protect freedom of speech and demand Ukrainian authorities to take actions to find and punish the offenders. We also ask you to take this issue under your personal control.
We are thankful to WAN-IFRA for support of freedom of speech in Ukraine, because one of the goals of having the World Congress in Ukraine was to express solidarity with the local independent press that every day suffers from such a big pressure.
Journalist movement Stop Censorship!
September, 4, 2012, Kyiv
New information from Telekritika