4 brutal attacks on journalists in March
While detentions are taking place and Party of the Regions MPs claiming attempted murder over a snowball onslaught, those who attack journalists go unpunished and sometimes unimpeded by police officers
The Institute for Mass Information has pointed to a disturbing increase in the number of brutal assaults on journalists in the course of their work. “While deputies from the Party of the Regions are outraged by an attack with snowballs on some members of their political party after a session of the Verkhovna Rada and are even trying to claim that this was attempted murder, those who order and carry out brutal attacks on journalists go unpunished.
According to IMI’s monthly monitoring, March 2013 saw four brutal attacks on members of the press. There were 80 cases in all during 2012 of aggressive treatment of journalists (beatings; assaults; physical violence; and 18 cases where journalists were threatened). This was almost three times higher than the figures for 2011. Despite promises from the police and Prosecutor’s Office to look into the attacks on journalists last year, only about 5% of assailants face any sort of punishment. Impunity for attacks on journalists is one of the reasons for the rising number of such attacks.
5 March: three men savagely beat up Taras Chornoivan, Chief Editor of Tarasova Pravda near his own home. He ended up in hospital with severe injuries.
Chornoivan believes the attack to be linked with the last issue of the newspaper which had a satirical collage on the front and strong criticism of MP Oleksandr Dombrovsky.
6 March: a film crew from Novy Kanal was attacked in Ivano-Frankivsk while filming a feature for the programme “Revizor” in the Corida café, Olha Freimut, the presenter of the programme was injured by the owner of the café who began actively pushing her out of his kitchen. Another woman journalist, Hanna Zhyzha and some of the guys in the film crew were also set upon, and a video camera was damaged.
13 March: a film crew from the information agency Tavria News was set upon in Kherson. Cameraman Valery Myronyuk and journalist Oleksandr Tarasov were assaulted while filming the eviction of the Sorozhin family which has many children. Some young thugs turned up together with the owner of the disputed flat Serhiy Sotnykov, and used violent means to obstruct the filming. One of them seized Tarasov by the neck, pushed him down onto the stairs and began beating him. The police officers present did not intervene.
28 March: In Kyiv a journalist from the 2 + 2 Channel, Yevhen Aharkov was attacked by the husband of the Deputy Director of the Kyiv Higher College of Sewing and Hairdressing. The incident occurred near the college when the journalist was using his mobile to photograph huge icicles hanging from the building.
IMI stresses that an attack on any citizen is just as much of an offence as an attack on an MP and that a criminal investigation must be launched within the next few hours. It urges the law enforcement bodies and courts to not apply a selective approach in investigating this or that case linked with assaults on journalists in the course of their work.