More condemnation of police inaction as journalists attacked
Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists have both issued strong statements following the assault on Olha Snytsarchuk and Vlad Sodel on Saturday which the police watched without intervening.
Freedom House writes that it “is alarmed by the violent attack on journalists covering an opposition demonstration in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 18, and calls of the authorities to conduct a full investigation and bring the attackers to justice. Any further delay in investigating the attackers, at least some of whom are apparently known to the authorities, is an abandonment of the authorities’ responsibility to ensure the safe and unhindered work of journalists and contributes to impunity of those who attack them.
Olga Snytsarchuk from the TV station 5 Canal and Vlad Sodel, a photographer from the newspaper Kommersant, were beaten while filming a demonstration by activists from the opposition party Svoboda. The demonstration was attacked by unknown men in track suits wielding bottles and teargas. The two journalists, who were observing and reporting on the attack, were then targeted themselves, apparently in retaliation for their coverage. Reports indicate that the numerous police officers in the area stood by as the journalists were attacked and pleading for assistance, allowing the attackers to flee and intervening only after the journalists had been seriously injured.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the beating and the inaction of police, and it calls on authorities to hold both assailants and officers fully accountable under the law.
"It’s outrageous that such a beating could take place in front of Ukraine’s main law enforcement building, while officers sworn to uphold the law stood by, " CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Authorities need to demonstrate that the law applies to everyone by investigating this deplorable episode, apprehending the attackers and holding the officers responsible for their negligence."
Assailants punched and kicked Vladislav Sodel, a photographer with the Moscow-based dailyKommersant, and his wife, Olga Snitsarchuk, a reporter with Kiev’s Channel Five television. Sodel said they repeatedly called out for help from nearby police but their pleas were ignored, Ukrainska Pravda reported. Snitsarchuk was treated at a local hospital for a torn lip and multiple bruises, while Sodel was treated for bruises on his arms, press reports said.
The assailants had clashed with opposition protesters before attacking Snitsarchuk and Sodel, the independent news website Ukrainska Pravda reported. Images and video taken at the scene show more than a half dozen police officers were nearby. The journalists said they took images images of the assailants.