More dangerous to fight or not fight lawlessness?
Deutsche Welle has spoken to the Road Control journalist Oleh Bogdanov who was brutally beaten up outside his home and in front of his wife and child last week. As reported, the journalist, who writes for a civic watchdog monitoring infringements by the traffic police, was beaten up by two athletic thugs on Sunday 21 July.
He received serious injuries to the skull, a broken nose and jaw, as well as concussion and will be spending at least a month in hospital.
This is by no means the first time that Road Control journalists have come under attack, and Oleh’s colleagues are convinced that the attack was in connection with his work. Road Control uncovers infringements committed by traffic police officers, films them and puts them on the Internet.
Oleh Bogdanov is almost unable to speak at present, following the attack. He is however adamant that he will not be stopped, and that you have to begin with yourself and demonstrate that you shouldn’t be afraid.
The attack was widely publicized leading to the Committee on Journalists’ Rights under the President stating that they would “be taking the case under their control”. Oleh’s wife, Nadia expressed the hope that due to the publicity the attack would be properly investigated and the culprits punished.
The couple have a nine-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. Oleh became involved in Road Control after they bought a car and began having encounters with the traffic police. Nadia says that whereas earlier she was against her husband’s activities, seeing them as too dangerous, she now believes that he should not give up.
Another activist in Donetsk, Pavlo Kolesnyk (who originally reported the attack on Oleh) says that such attempts at intimidation are not rare. He believes however that fear is not always the best mechanism of self-protection. He has also suffered physical violence in the course of his civic activities and like Oleh Bogdanov says that he will not give up. Only such active measures can hope to put an end to police lawlessness.
He also stresses that people should not be under any illusions – violence is encountered much more often by those who do not show resistance.
“The more often they beat us, the more actively we need to show resistance”.
Oleksandr Bukalov, head of Donetsk Memorial says that it is extremely difficult to get people punished for such attacks especially where police or members of powerful private structures are involved. There is usually pressure on witnesses, the facts get twisted, and bizarre stories get thought up in order to ensure that those responsible do not answer for their actions.
From a report at Deutsche Welle